There’s No Crying in Genre Fiction (and a Review of IN THE WANING LIGHT)

A funny thing happens when one starts out as a reader but then becomes a writer–we begin to read differently. I’m much more analytical in my reading now. I notice how chapters end. When point of view changes, and why. The choice of words, and what I think works and what I think fails. And of course since I’m also an editor, I cringe at run-on sentences, misplaced modifiers, and other punctuational atrocities.

These days, I rarely get so caught up in a story that I get emotionally invested enough to cry. As in almost never. My hat’s off to any author who can pull me in that deeply these days.

Which is why my hat is off to Loreth Anne White, one of my fellow authors at Montlake Romance whose RITA-finalist book IN THE WANING LIGHT brought me to tears…during my lunch hour at the day job, no less. (I was just waiting for someone to walk in my office and think I had gone insane.)

I guess that means this is a review of IN THE WANING LIGHT, a standalone romantic suspense that weaves a twisting, morphing mystery through the atmospheric winter of the Pacific Northwest coast. So here goes…

ABOUT THE BOOK: Two decades after her sister’s brutal attack and murder, Meg Brogan has finally found happiness…or so it appears. A bestselling true-crime writer, Meg has money, fame, and a wealthy fiancé. But when a television-show host presses her to tackle the one story everyone claims she cannot write—the story of her own family’s destruction—her perfect life shatters….Determined to finally face her past, Meg returns to her hometown of Shelter Bay. Shrouded in cold, brooding fog, the close-knit coastal town harbors dark secrets and suspicious residents. One of the few people to welcome Meg back is Blake Sutton, her high-school sweetheart and the marina’s new owner. Desperate for clues, Meg digs through her family’s files. As Pacific storms brew outside, her passion for Blake reignites….But someone doesn’t want Meg digging up the past. And that person will go to deadly lengths to prevent the writer from revealing a terrible truth.

THE GOOD: Where do I start? The characters are likeable. I was slow to warm up to Meg but eventually she won me over. The mystery is twisty and while I had part of it figured out by the end, there were still a few surprises. The setting is rich and gothic. The pacing is pitch-perfect, with multiple POVs to maximize each scene. There’s a real emotional investment in these characters and their story by the time we reach that crucial last third of the book. Warning: this is a dark book, and if you’re looking for even traces of humor, this is not the place to find it.

THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Not much. The only thing I didn’t like was the occasional switch into “excerpts” from the book the main character, Meg, is writing. I understand why it was done this way–a convenient way to work in backstory. But it’s done such a few times that it totally jarred me out of the story when one of these “excerpts” would show up. I’d rather they had been handled differently, or either used often enough to fit into the rhythm of the book rather than jarring the reader out of the story.

For me, IN THE WANING LIGHT was a rare five-gator read!

To win a copy of IN THE WANING LIGHT, c’mon and dish: what was the last book that made you cry? Or are you a hard-hearted reader?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate’s Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man’s Curse; Black Diamond).

13 thoughts on “There’s No Crying in Genre Fiction (and a Review of IN THE WANING LIGHT)

      • Each author wrote from a different viewpoint character. Most were really well done, and some were really touching and emotional.
        There was just one viewpoint (the gun….) that I didn’t like.

  1. The last book in The Clifton Chronicles by Jeffery Archer when he kills off two of the main characters.

  2. Cry, NO. Guess I’m a hard-hearted reader. Get excited, worry about the characters, feel bad when they get hurt, get mad when they die [Lucy], YES…

  3. The Jewel and her Lapidary had two characters willing to self sacrifice that brought tears to my ears. It’s a short story, only 96 pages, but a great read.

  4. Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon. Had to stop reading it at lunch in the breakroom at work, so I didn’t boo-hoo in front of coworkers.