“Midnight Crossroad” by Charlaine Harris – quirky and unexpected

Midnight“Midnight Crossroad” is a quirky book about the (very) small town of Midnight and its exotic inhabitants.

It struck me as a sort of “Lake Wobegon” with vampires, witches, psychics, biker gangs and a talking cat.

Two people Charlaine Harris fans will know, reside in Midnight: Bobo Winthrop from the Lily Bard series, owner of the town’s pawn shop  and Manfred Bernardo, newly arrived in Midnight and the person through whom we discover many of its eccentricities.

You don’t need to have read either of the series to read “Midnight Crossing” although Bobo’s back-story does have spoiler information on one of the Lily Bard books.

My favourite new character is Fiji (“named for the island”) a witch who runs a gift shop and who runs classes ranging from finding your inner witch to making ferocious-looking Halloween pumpkins. After Manfred, the outsider with much to learn, it is through Fiji’s eyes that we most often view Midnight and its inhabitants. Fiji tries “to be a good person and a good witch” although she doesn’t always seem certain that the two go together. She has fallen hard for Bobo Winthrop but is unable to tell him so, partly because Bobo is grieving because his lover has left town in mysterious circumstances and partly because she is afraid, if she tells him, she will not gain a lover but lose a friend.

The book has a leisurely feel to  it. The plot hangs on resolving exactly what happened to Bobo’s lover. It meanders rather than runs through the book. It takes bumps from person to person, changing our perception of each individual and cementing the sense of community within Midnight. You read this novel to understand Midnight, not to find out how the plot resolves.

Although it contains abduction, arson, violence and murder “Midnight Crossroad”  remains mostly light-hearted. It doesn’t aim at the comedy of something like the “Nice Girls Don’t…” series by Molly Harper. It’s closer to Diana Rowland’s “White Trash Zombie” series or perhaps Carl Hiaasen’s Florida novels.

I enjoyed the book. I became fond of the characters and curious about what would happen to them in the “next episode”. Yet I found myself at a distance from Midnight’s citizens. It lacks the intimacy of the Lily Bard and Harper Connelly, perhaps because it is not consistently told from the point of view of a single character.

A fun read, but a slow burn.

If you’d like to hear an extract from “Midnight Crossroad”, click on the SoundCloud link below:

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