I’m reposting this having made a mention of it to a friend earlier today:
I have just finished reading ‘Foxglove Summer’, the latest in the series of books written by Ben Aaronovitch about the young policeman Peter Grant who is also a wizard… It wouldn’t be my usual type of novel, but I began reading the first one ‘Rivers of London’ because I am fascinated by hidden rivers. It was such a gripping read, exciting, intriguing, very funny, and I couldn’t wait to read the next, and the next. They all feature the same characters, locked in different battles with criminals and the supernatural, and I’m looking forward to the next book The Hanging Tree, which will be published in the summer.
I’ve published six books, self-published on Kindle, and I have been thrilled by the comments people have made about them, and very, very grateful for kindly criticism which has been offered. When I published my novel ‘Flipside’, set for once in a real location, Oldham in Lancashire, lots of readers told me it was their favourite of all my books so far. However, one person also added that she found the ending not quite right somehow… yes, it had ended up with a big ‘reveal’, yes, it had been unexpected, and yes in a way it was satisfactory in that many of the loose ends were tied up… but, but she also very helpfully mentioned that to her it was too abrupt… she was left thinking ‘…and? …and what? …is that it?’ I took her comments seriously and reread the last part of the book… and she was right, she was so right!
In the next book I wrote, Radwinter, I finished it, finished it with the big reveal, and yes I hoped it was unexpected and yet believable in the context of the plot and the character of my people, and yes I had tied up of all loose ends and different strands of story-line… but, but it was too abrupt, just as Flipside had been. I went back to the keyboard and I wrestled with another ending, and came up with a final, very short chapter… and it was right, it fitted, it completed the novel.
Now, going back to ‘Foxglove Summer, which I enjoyed enormously and stayed up each night far too late reading it, I have to say that I found the ending rather abrupt… I turned over the last page and there were the acknowledgements and thanks Aaronovitch was giving. Had I missed something? I turned back… no… the last pages led up to an exciting and unpredictable denouement with a startling and dramatic rescue and resolution… but somehow I wanted a little tiny bit more, just to finish it off… like a coffee at the end of a fabulous meal.
This isn’t really a criticism, it’s just a reflection on what I have learned as a writer thanks to having an audience, and what I now observe in other writers.