casual vacancy rowling

Killing the Hero: J.K. Rowling’s Casual Vacancy

At first, I didn’t understand what she was doing. A few chapters into J.K. Rowling’s first post-Potter book, and I was overwhelmed with characters. There’s the city councilman, the delicatessen owner, the cheeky teenager, the gossipy nurse, the lingerie entrepreneur. Not to mention the new girl in town, the lawyer […]

shadow of night harkness

The Heartbreak of a Bad Sequel

When the first book in a series does really well, everyone gets excited. Publishers and booksellers love it, because it means we’ll probably sell lots of books. And readers love it, because it’s easy to be happy about a book from an author you already trust, with characters you already […]

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Politics, Time Travel, and Really Scary Clowns

Until last week, my experience with Stephen King was limited to my seeing a commercial for the TV movie version of IT when I was a little girl. For months, I couldn’t walk into a dark room without being haunted by visions of a creepy clown. Since then, I’ve avoided […]

Harry Potter and the Skeptical Reader

There’s no such thing as a loyal reader. Oh, we like to think we’re a pretty committed bunch … and when it comes to sequels and series, we are. But that’s loyalty to characters, not to authors. When a writer changes direction or tone, we’re suddenly skeptical. We tend to […]