Oh, HI. It's 4:30 AM. This night has been like Christmas, waking up every hour on the hour. Only instead of presents, I have nausea, pain, and swelling! So pretty much the Wisdom Tooth Removal Santa Claus sucks. I really recommend the Christmas one, instead.
I've been thinking a lot lately about Holly Black's Curse Workers series. I'm going to keep this brief because I'm all woozy and dizzy. It boils down to this: If you want to see how to write a compelling series that builds on itself while still keeping all of the books self-contained, complete stories, study this series.
I loved White Cat; the idea of magic noir blew me away with its simple genius. The characterizations were amazing--one of those books that didn't depend on the concept alone to be intriguing. The magic system was simple enough to avoid complicated explanations and world setup, but broad enough in scope to include everything from incredible moral dilemmas, far-reaching and thought-provoking political issues, family and loyalty and love and crime, and just what, in the end, it means to be a good person.
And, even though it was the first book in a trilogy, it had its own distinct and separate storyline, ending in such a way to draw it to a conclusion while still building to the next book.
So, I was very excited and curious to read Red Glove, and it absolutely didn't disappoint. Holly took everything that worked so well in White Cat and bumped it up a notch. All of the good versus bad, trying to make moral choices in a ridiculously morally bankrupt world, trying to do right by the one girl you've ever loved in the most impossible situation imaginable. Plus a murder mystery. Plus a boarding school. Plus an intense political climate. Plus the feds. Plus mobsters. Plus a deliciously screwed up family dynamic.
HOW DOES SHE FIT IT ALL IN ONE BOOK? I don't know. But she does, and it's seamless, and I'm so glad. And the best thing about Red Glove is that it was its own story, completely and totally. A lot of middle books feel inessential, like placeholders until book three just spinning their wheels and killing time, or that their only function is to build for the next book. But Red Glove is as complete a story as White Cat, while still setting up the framework that I have no doubt the last book will take full advantage of.
Anyway. If you want to figure out how to write a trilogy where all of the books function just as well on their own as they do together, read this one. Holly Black is a genius.
(As always when I recommend books, please research or read them before giving them to younger readers. I talk about books that I love on here. I'm not a twelve-year-old; far from it! And though I write books that I have no problem with recommending to young readers, I read many, many books that they might not be ready for yet. And what one young teen is mature enough to read is very different than what another might be.)
(Speaking of trilogies, have you entered to win an advance copy of Supernaturally? Tomorrow is the last day to get your entry in!)