Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris (Gollancz)

 Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (where someone lives in the basement and runs the store during the night). There’s a diner (although those folk who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident: Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

If you stop at the one traffic light in town, then everything looks normal. But if you stay a while, you might learn the truth…

Charlaine Harris is the author of the popular Sookie Stackhouse novels that led to the True Blood movies and although I haven’t read any of her novels before I have seen the odd episode of the series and whilst I never had the time to catch up on HBO’s vampire drama, it had potential. Midnight Crossroad kickstarts the first in the Midnight, Texas series that sees the author return to the Southern Gothic genre as she explores a boarded up town of Midnight, in Texas, and tells the story of its few full time inhabitants. These inhabitants are not exactly normal people, as new resident Manfred Bernardo is about to find out.

Urban fantasy is one of my favourite genres and Midnight Crossroad for the most part was a fun right even if nothing special. I got the True Blood feel a lot not just because they share the same author, and whilst the book suffers from a weak opening containing plenty of exposition it eventually picks up the pace and serves as a promising start to the series. There’s a lot of potential for improvement as the series progresses but for now Midnight Crossroad is a solid enough read that should keep fans of the genre and the author in particular coming back for more as there’s a fair bit to like here.

Midnight Crossroad does suffer from going overboard on the descriptions at times and often we learn much more than we needed to particularly about the town itself. There’s not enough stuff happening at the start to pull the audience in and it’ll no doubt be interesting to see what NBC do with the upcoming Midnight, Texas TV series that is based on the books. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of things were changed in the adaption process.

Midnight Crossroad has some interesting ideas and the fact that everyone in the town of Midnight has secrets is an interesting one in particular. One of the main strengths of the book is its fascinating characters that all come from a variety of backgrounds and their development feels real and solid. They benefit from a flawed portrayal and as the pages progress you’ll want to see where their journey ends up.

But the downside about this book is that it requires a lot of time to properly become invested in it and I was almost considering putting the book down at one point and just moving on. But I’m glad I didn’t because Midnight Crossroad turns the tables around pretty well by the end of the story and once everything clicks and you get used to the writing you’ll enjoy it and be left wanting more. Maybe if the pacing issues had been improved and there had been less of a tell not show approach, I would have enjoyed it a bit more, but unfortunately the end result is a mixed bag and comes cautiously recommended.



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