I’ve recently been captivated by a (general market) Regency period mystery series. I might have purchased the first on Audible and finally got around to listening. Almost at once, I realized this is quality writing, the time period language, the rich sense of place, real and fascinating history. It has lots of action and both exterior and interior conflict growing organically from the era, the society, and the characters’ own situations.
All of this got and held my attention. I mean really. I’m now six books into the series and these things are holding true. Great storytelling is such a gift, to be transported, even transfixed! And I still haven’t talked about my favorite element in anything I read: characterization.
The people in these books are multifaceted, the relationships complicated, fluid, and evolving. One thing I expect of a series is growth in the characters. Some extremely popular series writers seem to think if they mess with the formula people won’t like it. They set up characters whose traits and behaviors hold true book after book after book until it’s clear that none of the ordeals are ever going to produce change. Arrrgh.
But more than all these elements, why have these books gripped me so completely? It came as I was describing the books to my daughter. The lead has many wonderful characteristics, some serious sorrows, dogged determination in the face of these, but one thing that sank in and moves me more than anything else.
Yes, he’s a Viscount, but that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about a noble soul, a goodness that recognizes its own failings yet never stops seeking to do right. Not merely honorable or gallant or generous but the noble, self-sacrificing center of a character is what makes a story spellbinding for me. What trait or element does that for you?