Oh Charlaine Harris. I love her books. I have read ALL of her series.
From the very first to this final installment in the Aurora series, why oh why does she continue to overuse the word “little”? I have ranted about this in previous reviews of her previous works. I had to take a deep breath on this one as I read and before I began this review.
Real Talk time:
The word little (in the review copy anyways) appears 127(!) times. 127 times in a book that is 288 pages. There were times when it appeared three times on one single page! Find another descriptor! It isn’t that difficult. You can’t chalk it up to the “characters” because every single work by her she does this. She has editors, how does this keep getting missed?! (By the way, no I did not count the number of times, the kindle has a feature where you can search for a key word used in the text and it will tell you how many times that word was used in different passages.)
I find it extremely distracting.
It is one of those things that once you pick up on it, it is all you notice. Like when you realize the lips are not synced on the screen and you have to shut off the program or restart it. I power through though because I love her stories. It is such an unnecessary and easily fixed issue. I don’t get how it continues to be overlooked.
Let’s all breathe in and breathe out now.
Onto the story. It had some drawbacks to it, but overall I enjoyed it. This was my most highly anticipated read of the entire year and I was happy to have gotten the opportunity to read an early review copy. I did an actual happy dance when I got approved for it.
I like Phillip as a character. He was my favorite in this whole thing because of the way he responded to the end part with the dog. If a dog is protecting its owner and the attacked has a weapon (knife in this case) and is then threatening the dog? You better believe I think the owner has the right to then protect their dog. Dogs are family. Any psycho wielding a knife gets killed accidentally in the process? Well too damn bad. Zero remorse there at all. None. </spoiler>
I liked seeing how Aurora dealt with her new life as a Mom for the first time in her late thirties.
I didn’t realize before exactly how privileged she came across as before. I knew that she lived in the South, obviously all of Ms. Harris’ characters do, but I didn’t really pay much attention to the religious aspects before either. That could be that I as a reader am more attuned to those things in general now than I used to be, but the way that she and her neighbors act around each other, always stuck in this dogma of other peoples’ opinions/judgements/religious crap? That made me really happy I do not live in the South.
Their neighbors were legitimately terrified that Roe would call animal control and have their dog taken away because what? She didn’t like that her cat (that was an inherited cat that didn’t even get along well with her) got chased and that oh no, her infant daughter eventually in some hypothetical future might be attacked by a well-trained animal? No. Well trained animals do not usually randomly attack kids for the heck of it. They are usually provoked. Notice how I said well-trained. There are obvious exceptions, but the dog wasn’t doing anything wrong in the explained scenario and that made me think “Who the hell does Roe think she is?” Check your privilege.
So, now that I got that off of my chest and I’m sure people will give me flack for my own opinions, because after all what else is the internet for? The aforementioned were mostly what did not work for me in this. Let’s move onto what definitely DID work.
Everything else. 🙂
The characters were well fleshed out. The town continued to feel real.
I liked that Robin and Roe continue to be portrayed in a realistic way. They aren’t each others perfect reflective soulmates that are overly troped in a lot of stories. They felt like a realistic rendering of a couple. Also, previous characters were mentioned if not shown and other events from other stories were mentioned. The continuity in (all of) her work continued to be impressive.
I especially loved that Charlaine had Roe have the flu. Not enough characters are shown to be battling normal run of the mill illness that they need time to recover from. That was refreshing.
Roe deciding to quit her library job to be a Mom felt realistic. I loved that she still went in and exchanged out some library books and she as a character enjoyed reading. The details were present without being too much.
I liked that there were smaller story threads that all in small ways connected. Harris is a master at crafting intriguing stories. Her writing is always a treat, even if I as a reader do have to deal with her “little” idiosyncrasies.
Robin and Aurora have finally begun their adventure in parenting. With newborn Sophie proving to be quite a handful, Roe’s mother pays for a partially trained nurse, Virginia Mitchell, to come help the new parents for a few weeks. Virginia proves to be especially helpful when Robin has to leave town for work and Roe is struck with a bad case of the flu.
One particularly stormy night, Roe wakes to hear her daughter crying and Virginia nowhere to be found. Roe’s brother Philip helps her search the house and they happen upon a body outside… but it isn’t Virginia’s. Now, not only does she have a newborn to care for and a vulnerable new marriage to nurture, Roe also has to contend with a new puzzle – who is this mystery woman dead in their backyard, and what happened to Virginia?
Page Count: 288
Genre: Mystery & Thriller