(No spoilers.) I honestly don't believe Charlaine Harris wrote this book. I suspect she either supervised a ghost writer who needed a firmer editing hand, or she did write it and it's just an early draft that she either didn't care to improve or couldn't because of other commitments. The plot is ridiculous, contrived, crammed full of details in places and outright boring in others. The supernatural abilities of characters are inconsistent with our previous experience of them, with no explanation for why they can not do something they have done before or they can suddenly do something that was impossible. There are characters who step in for meaningless cameos, as if there was some casting obligation, but no actual plot point to give them. And for the first time in thirteen books and as many stories as I've read, except for a tag on one short story, the author has departed from her first person narrator perspective.
Some reviewers are rating the book low because they think she ended up with the wrong man. That's not my issue. This is the last book in the series. I expected the quality of story telling that kept me reading all these years and made me fall in love with these characters. This book did not have that quality. It's disappointing, and its a sad end to the Sookie series.
First thing to know is though the release date is 11/14, the actual book was written in 1991. Everyone smokes, people are going to be on the Carson show, they record things on cassettes and VCRs. I'm of an age it doesn't matter that much.
The second thing is the book is nineteen hours long, and it's not for plot twists - it's a need for editing. The entire first installment (9 hours) is back story, consisting mostly of Hollywood gossip and scandal. While the gossip is about fictional celebrities, there is a lot of discussion of actual films and celebrities of the Brando/Turner/Davis "golden age."
Regarding the narrator - I don't know how much of the plodding of the first half is about her pacing, or whether she suffered from the content she had to read, but it is bothersome that all the male characters sound exactly the same, even when it's mentioned one has a British accent.
It was pretty late in the book that I guessed the killer, but considering the murder didn't happen until the tenth hour of listening, I'm not sure that's saying much..
That said, it wasn't horrible or annoying, but it's not one I'm planning to listen to again and again. I have to give it a resounding, "Meh."
Whiny wounded heroine witnesses event. Then several (audiobook) hours of stalkerish/gaslighting pranks alternating with "OMG! Am I crazy! I'm not crazy! I swear!" Then big confrontation with baddie who was obvious about halfway through the book, and *wham* book is over. No reactions/responses from anyone other than the hero and heroine.
I greatly enjoyed The Cuckoo's Calling, so was excited to purchase this sequel; unfortunately, The Silkworm was a huge disappointment.
The beginning of the book is painfully slow with a lot of exposition and very little action. The exposition includes the setup of the novel within the novel - which we are told is perverse and poorly written, right before the narrator proceeds to read it to us. Ugh.
I nearly quit this book in Chapter 19. If you're easily upset by gore, you might want to pass on it altogether. After a break, I did go back to reading and found it got better, both in pace and "disgust factor," but I can't say I enjoyed it, beyond the glimpses we have into Robin's family life.
I wonder what statement "Robert Galbraith" (JK Rowling) is making about writers and the publishing industry, because there wasn't a pleasant or well adjusted character in the lot of them. They ranged from "broken" to "sociopath" and I think if anyone had been likable, it would have done a lot to improve the book.
Insert jabs at self-publishing and the internet's role in giving a voice to bad writers, and it's easy to imagine Ms. Rowling's writing desk decorated with a "Be careful or you'll end up in my novel" button of its own.
People keep comparing this book to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, and it does seem like Jacka is making an effort to follow that formula, but he falls short in the attempt. Alex Veras has none of the wit or cleverness of Dresden. There are no funny moments to break up the back story and/or combat. I just don't care about these people. OK, I care about Star Breeze and Arachne, but see, that's where he went his own way, and they're the best bits in the book. Not the council, or the dark mages, or the wayward apprentice. And he does himself no favor with the nod to the Chicago wizard in the yellow pages, because he only reminds us what we'd rather be reading.
I gave it the benefit of the doubt and went on to read the second book as well, which was even worse than the first. If I had a nickel for every time Veras explained that he can see the future, I'd be able to pay full price for the new Dresden book coming out next week.
If you want to read a magical series set in London, try Ben Aaronovich's Rivers of London series. That one has clever humor and characters you can care about.
All it was missing was the dramatic organ stings at the chapter endings. By the end of the book there wasn't a single major character I liked anymore. Nothing about it was subtle. The extent to which the two main characters missed the obvious was unbelievable. Obviously neither of them had ever read a mystery novel or watched a police procedural. The ending was the absolutely worst part. I won't spoil anything but there was one thing left in a ridiculously inappropriate place.
The story was told from the point of view of five different characters - too many to keep it from feeling like a very laborious relay race. One of the five characters was written in third person while the others were all in first. It didn't help that the same character was voiced by the worst of the narrators. (I wish I knew which one voiced which. I'd like to avoid her in the future.)
I got this book on the $4.95 deal. I wouldn't read it again for free.
Johanna Parker is an excellent narrator as always, and Bailey Cates has created a quirky coven of colorful characters that are worth spending some relaxing hours with. As a cozy mystery, this story doesn't require deep thinking or puzzling. Actually, I think the fun might crumble in the face of too much over-thinking.
If you enjoy baking, the recipes included in the book are available on a pdf at the publisher's website with a code given at the beginning of the recording. I haven't downloaded them yet, but there are a lot of yummy-sounding items at the bakery.
If you enjoy things magical, the basic practices, symbols and herbs discussed are true to tradition as far as my experience. I always wonder about that in a fiction book, so that was a nice discovery.
As far as negatives go, while the female characters are alive and textured, the male characters are flat and fall into stereotypes -- good guy fireman, slimy reporter, cranky detective, thug, nearly invisible husband. Also, since it's the first book in a series, and there are a so many characters, more time is spent introducing people than developing the mystery. I guessed whodunnit within minutes of the murder.
That said, I enjoyed these people enough to listen a second time while I was doing other things around the house, and I will be happy to buy the second book in the series when it comes out in audiobook.
When I saw the commercial for the movie, I immediatly knew it must be a great book. It is!
As a 50 year-old southern woman, it brought back so many memories. We never had "help" but the characters in this book are very real.
The performances are great. The story is delightful. It's a great way to spend a weekend.
...you will love this book.
I was disappointed initially that James Marsters wasn't narrating, and I'll admit it was distracting for maybe the first couple of chapters, but John Glover does a good job with this book. In fact, I recognized a couple of characters by their "voice" before they were identified, and that shows not only how skilled Mr. Glover is, but what commitment he made to make the transition seamless for us. I appreciate that.
This may be my favorite Dresden book yet. I laughed and cried (sometimes loud enough to worry the cats) and felt like I was able to be with good friends who had gone through hard times since our last visit. It was well worth the wait. And now I begin waiting for the next one.
Less than 3 hours in, and I can't take it anymore. I wish I'd read the reviews before wasting a credit on this book. Maura and Rizzoli are barely in it (other reviews say that's not going to change), and most of it is historical hand-to-forehead-swooning drama. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh!
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