By: Jenny Gardner
Charlaine Harris is known for her ability to write romance novels involving other-worldly creatures, entwining the dark and the light. Her Sookie Stackhouse Series is a wonderful one surrounding vampires. Though the Midnight Pawn series is in the same universe, the crossover is minimal. In this series, the focus is on the town of Midnight, TX and those who dwell there: powers, personalities, and all! Instead of focusing mostly on vampire/human interaction, there are a variety of creatures involved, with twists from the normal lore: an energy-sucking vampire, were-tigers, and more. This unique town is now a television series on NBC called Midnight, TX.
The Midnight Pawn series consists of three novels: Midnight Crossed, Night Shift, and Day Shift. From the beginning, it is clear the novels evolve at a much slower pace than the Midnight, TX television show. This is not a negative. In fact, the slower pace gives Harris the ability to develop character relationships in a calmer, more genuine way. The relationships within the novels mirror relationship stages in the real world. This is not always true in literature, but Harris captures the comfortability of long-term relationships, and the awkwardness often found in developing ones very well. The entire series shows a genuine understanding of human (and non-human) connection.
In the first book, Midnight Crossed, the town is struggling to figure out the culprit behind the death of local women. The town itself must overcome intrusion from local law, newcomer psychic Manfred Bernardo, and questions surrounding town-dweller’s guilt. Within the novel, the characters have various internal struggles to accept the actions occurring around them: the struggles of identity, acceptance, and reconciling the duality of kindness/violent actions of their friends/neighbors.
These struggles continue in the second novel Night Shift, but are furthered by legal quandaries, accusations, strangers of the past, and the appearance of new characters. These new characters explore what it means to be human through violent reactions and transitions from ‘man’ to ‘beast.’ Questions arise as to what really makes a ‘beast.’ Can the nature of man be as dark and menacing as those of a creature of darkness? Harris explores these concepts in the protagonist-antagonist interaction within the novel, as well as using the character’s pasts to create new character development.
The last novel brings the town to a precipice of evil. Town-dwellers in Midnight, TX must deal with loss, a rising darkness, and further personal quests for identity. The fight for the town was a wonderful arc; the use of with Fiji Cavanaugh’s powers, and rituals involved were exciting, as well as intricate. This climax was executed marvelously. I enjoyed almost every moment of the series: character buildup, each of the descriptions of town and scenery, the struggles within, and more. However, the ending lacked closure. Maybe this ending was destined to leave an open-ended path to another novel, but the ending did not carry through with Harris’s voice, which was otherwise present throughout.
Overall, the Midnight Pawn series is superb! It has a slower, but appropriate development of character. Each novel has a unique plot, but the character’s voices are consistent throughout. The town connects the stories through each novel, but the characters are the ones who make those experiences realistic. Charlaine Harris does a wonderful job with the entire series, though the ended lacks a final note.
One may wonder how the television series Midnight, TX lives up to the creative novels. Though Charlaine Harris’s fictitious creation is amazing, the show is a wonderful evolution to the book series. Midnight, TX develops Charlaine Harris’s world into a continuing storyline, with new character skills. By twisting the timeline, the progress in the show allows viewers to make an immediate connection, and further anticipate the upcoming stories. The “big bad” from the final novel appears within the first TV season, with foreshadowing of a return. The end of season one mirrors the end of book one, foreshadowing the upcoming events, which seem to be in tune with Harris’s writing. The plots themselves are consistent with Harris’ story, albeit it is in a different order.
What makes the television series a world apart from the novels are the character adjustments. First and foremost, the diversity in the show is amazing. Fiji’s diverse background enhances the white supremacy biker plot, as her interactions with the group hold a more personal note. Additionally, the characters have differing abilities. The main character Manfred is given a much larger role in the television show. Another main character Creek has more airtime in season one, while there is a removal of another character, Teacher, from the novel altogether. The loss of Teacher’s character is a sad one, as he is key to a future betrayal. It remains to be seen how they will reconcile his absence, possibly with his included wife, Madonna.
Television shows/movies will always be different from the original novels. This is a point that irks many book lovers, including me! In this case, the changes made are key to creating a more interactive show. The show is still able to create other strong characters, in tune with Charlaine Harris’s world, but they are given further purpose. The show returns in the fall for season two for all to see if it stays true to Harris’s wonderful voice and story.