manuscript review by Publishers Weekly, an independent organization
Sami Clark, a 22-year old Pagan makeup salesgirl, leaves her abusive boyfriend and moves in with her old friend Steve in Harlan County, Kentucky, in a contemporary paranormal novel that is long on adolescent depression and short on plot. Sami spends nearly all her time smoking, crying, sleeping, eating junk food and having elliptical conversations with Steve, her teenaged boyfriend, Jeremy, and a mysterious character named Michael who appears periodically, usually to tell Sami to get some sleep. There are occasional mystical mentions: Sami receives communications from the Celtic goddess Morrigan, dreams of mysterious, faerie-like figures, and notices crows following her. Occasionally one of her friends will bring up vampires, but only in cheerfully conversational ways: “How do you feel about vampires?” Without any other foreshadowing or explanation, Sami realizes that Jeremy is a vampire, as are Steve and Michael, though, oddly, she exhibits little curiosity about this fact. By the end, Sami may be becoming a vampire herself. The descriptions of Harlan County are lovely and set an excellent mood, but much of the time it seems that the author’s solution to narrative difficulty is to have the characters take a nap. When Sami remarks, halfway through the manuscript, that she is “bored as hell,” the only possible response is a gentle sigh of agreement.
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The excerpt from Midnight comes from Chapter 7, which means it is somewhat difficult to put everything one reads into its proper context. You have this young lady named Sami trying to come to terms with a number of things about her life, including her relationship with several characters who are basically a complete mystery to the reader. It doesn’t take long to detect the fact that there is something unusual going on here, and the implications are that it is vampiric in nature. One thing that is not in doubt is the fact that Sami has been through an emotionally trying year, one that included a suicide attempt at some point. According to the synopsis, she has run away from a previous life of abuse, and her new life in a remote Kentucky mountain town is less than ideal, as well. She has a boyfriend, but all we are told about that relationship is that it is complicated. Said boyfriend obviously isn’t the only source of sensuality in Sami’s world, however, as this chapter makes quite clear. Basically, Midnight seems to offer readers a new twist on an old story of finding and accepting oneself rather than trying to live up to the expectations of others. The synopsis flatly refers to Sami’s vampiric nature as being one of those aspects of herself that she must learn to comfortably accept, and this otherworldly nature of the novel is reinforced as we watch her, in the excerpt, attempt to work a spell of magic on another character. I don’t think you could actually call Midnight a horror novel by any means, though. For one thing, it’s identified as General Literature; in addition to that, the story seems to revolve centrally around the idea of putting your past and the expectations of others behind you and learning how to live in the now. Only a complete reading of the novel will reveal just how successful this interesting blend of genres turns out to be.
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