People are committing suicide at the Midnight crossroads. Once is tragic, twice unlikely and three times definitely more than a coincidence
There’s a dark presence under the crossroads. It’s been there for centuries - but it’s waking up. The inhabitants only clue to what it is and what it wants is in a book that none of them can read. They’re running out of time and the dark voice Fiji hears is growing louder
Meanwhile Olivia’s family may have finally caught up with her - with lethal repercussions and increased suspicion about the true motives of her neighbours
I really do like the concept of Midnight - a small town in rural Texas where the supernatural gathers, where people with secrets gather to build their new life. Over the last few books this has developed further as the members of the community have grown closer together. And this is something Charlaine Harris has always been very very good at: building a community, building all those little social interactions, those visits and family histories and little gossips that gives a real sense of community
This does, in some cases, slow the pacing as various characters discuss their issues with each other, then discuss those issues with other characters and all pry into each other’s business - especially since we have a lot of characters all with their own back stories and issues (which I, again, really like). But it works here because the overall story of this small town is the community that has been built here. So I don’t mind that we spend what appears to be a truly unnecessary amount of time discussing Lemuel’s human life even though it adds absolutely nothing to the plot. Or that we have Manfred’s old cronies from Las Vegas living nearby. Or the time spent gossiping around tables discussing what Chuy and Joe are (which is not known for most of this book and these are somewhat peripheral characters - which is a little weird given what they’re facing). It works because that’s what these books are.
I do think Olivia’s story is a little…. Weirdly convoluted. But hey, it’s not completely out there so I can run with it.
At times it seems the characters are somewhat distracted from the main plot, largely waiting for Lemuel to translate a convenient book he’s found - convenient in that it has all the answers and plot convenient in that it’s written in a convoluted ancient language for no good reason (and, honestly it makes little sense and really is just a method of drawing out the main plot so they can focus on the smaller side plots and relations. But it works).
The plot itself does have those convenience issues and does sort of circle slowly towards the ending rather than run for it - and it has some weird road bumps with Olivia’s story kind of running mundanely across the main supernatural - there’s something dark and evil under the crossroads plot line.
But the plot was interesting, contained a lot of hooks and some nice diversions and was an excellent vehicle for these characters and the world. Especially Fiji - this book does a really good job of developing the town witch, bringing her past and letting us explore her character but also her growth as she both hardens and decides to live up to her potential: there’s definite character growth there. And her cat is awesome too.
I am a little bemused why everyone is super suspicious that Madonna manages to keep her restaurant open with limited custom, yet Bobo has a pawn shop, Chuy and Joe have a combine antiques/nail salon and Fiji runs a new age shop. I mean… there’s not enough custom to keep a restaurant open (despite half the locals eating their regularly) but a magic shop does?
There are some… unfortunate lines in this book. I’ve said before that this series has massive improved on the other worlds in terms of less problematic depictions of marginalised people - we have multiple female characters with Olivia and Fiji and even the more minor characters of Madonna and Lenore all feel decent and quite respectful and Olivia and Fiji actually grow together and like each other and may even come close to friends. We have Madonna and Teacher and Chuy and Marie as POC and Joe and Chuy as a gay couple and, while not perfect, they’re so much better than what I’ve seen before. We even have a female vampire who is angry at a man FOR GOOD REASON and this is actually acknowledged as reasonable!