Feb 12 2011 5:00am

Never Too Much?: When To Stop Paranormal Series


There are so many Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy series we readers can’t seem to get enough of. We rush to the stores on release day; then we rock back-and-forth until the next release. When you get deeply involved in a series, you feel like you really know  the characters and want their series to continue forever. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake and Kim Harrison’s Hollows are three such series that have been going on for awhile and show no signs of stopping.

But is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Take Sherrilyn Kenyon as an example. The first Dark Hunter novel, Fantasy Lover, came out in 2002. In 2010, the nineteenth book in the series, No Mercy, was released. Are nineteen books in one series too much? In this case, I don’t think so, because Ms. Kenyon sticks to a formula that works. Each book is set in the same world, with a different main character every novel, but with re-appearances by older characters, too. I'm sure some of you will disagree with me, but I wasn’t a fan of No Mercy.  But the next book can feel all new again.

Kim Harrison’s Hollow series started in 2004 with Dead Witch Walking and in 2011, the ninth book, Pale Demon, will be released this year. I have had the chance to read the advance readers' copy of Pale Demon, and while it didn’t blow my socks off, it was an okay addition to the series. The end of the book had some revelations that made me crave the next book, thus proving the series needs to go on, even if it’s for just one more book.

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Ms. Harrison’s novels are different from Ms. Kenyon’s in that they all focus on one lead character: witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. Both authors also have various short stories and in the case of Ms. Kenyon, two spinoffs based on the Dark Hunter world.

Kelley Armstrong is also a great example of an author who has a series that endures and continues to feed reader obsession. The first book in Ms. Armstrong’s Otherworld series, Bitten, came out in 2003 and Spell Bound comes out July 2011. Spell Bound is the twelfth installment of the Otherworld series, not including short stories—and there are many. Each book used to focus solely on a few main characters, but has recently switched to feature previously supporting characters as the main protagonists.

Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong

On the other end of the spectrum, Vicki Petterson and Karen Marie Moning are both ending their series in 2011, much to readers’ disappointment. Last November, Ms. Petterson announced there would only be five books in her Signs of the Zodiac series, while Ms. Moning is ending her Fever series with the just released Shadowfever (there will be a spinoff series). I haven’t heard more hype for a Paranormal Romance then I heard for Shadowfever, I know people who took sick days at work just to be able to read the book on release day! Both series have been huge favorites among fans of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, so the announcement of their endings was met with shock. I applaud Ms. Petterson and Ms. Moning for their decisions to end such great series on high notes, rather than to keep them going.

On the other side, there are some series that are still going that I think shouldn’t be. They're like guests who won’t leave at a party, even though you’ve already changed into your PJs. Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse, and some might even say J.R. Ward’s BDB series should even come to an end. I was a big fan of MaryJanice Davidson’s Queen Betsy series until Betsy got her man, after which, I found I wasn’t enjoying the series like I used to. I don’t want to hear any character whine about how hard their lives are, especially when they have a rich husband.  It's just not realistic.

And speaking of totally unrealistic . . . Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake has caught more then her fair share of men, and it’s now to the point that I can’t handle it anymore. After she added a third man/paranormal to the harem, that was it for me.  I just can’t keep up and I have no idea how Anita can. To be honest, Anita Blake squicks me out now! Of course, I’ve also heard it said that Kenyon should have ended Dark Hunters after Acheron, so perhaps it all does just come down to a matter of taste.

It’s sad to see a series you love go downhill just because the author is trying to give readers more, or can’t seem to end the drama. Plus, it gets a bit repetitive when you're reading the same storyline over and over again. I would rather see a series end on a high note than watch it deteriorate or become redundant. It is hard to say goodbye to our favorites, but better they go gracefully into the great beyond.

What about you? Would you rather your favorite series go into the good night on a high note, or risk it becoming stale for One. More. Read?

Image courtesy of Peter Kaminski

Natasha Carty reviews Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy on her website and lives in Toronto, Canada with her cat Seamus.

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1. smexys_sidekick
I think that there is a point where a series has to stop. Once you cross the point you risk the "stale" feeling. Kenyon has so far avoided this fate because she had so many characters introduced early on. She also spun off early; allowing for growth and development.
Harris, on the other hand, has many charaters but keep them all safely tucked around her main character Sookie. There wasn' much growth beyond Sookie and after 11 books-Sookie just isn't that interesting anymore.
Natasha Carty
2. WickedLilPixie
Well now we know, 2 more books in the Sookie Series and it's done!
3. KB/KT Grant
Until a book series loses money for the publisher, it will continue on or until the author decides to call it quits.

I adore JD Robb's In Death series, but at 30 book I find myself not reading the books right away. Maybe that is one series that needs to tie up loose ends?
4. My House of Books
Sookie Stackhouse should end, I think. Loved the first six or seven books; I read last year's release in a day, then wondered what -- if anything -- actually happened in the book.

Great question! It's something I'm sure all authors (and readers) struggle with.
Natasha Carty
5. WickedLilPixie
30 books?!? Thats insane, is it all focused on one character?
Delilah Hunt
6. Delilah Hunt
I've recently stopped reading my favorite series after the 4th book because it was just losing so much focus of how it began and the characters all began to sound alike to me.
However the series is still doing excellent, so I suppose the problem lies in me. Will be spending my money elsewhere.
Natasha Carty
7. WickedLilPixie
@ My House: Ms. Harris IS ending Sookie in the next two books!
@ Delilah: I'm with you, I have a few I stopped reading that everyone adores.
KT/KB Grant
8. KB/KT Grant
The In Death books is mainly focused on Eve Dallas, a NYPD detective and her ubber rich, possible the best hero I eve read, Roarke.. Hmm Roarke...
Natasha Carty
9. WickedLilPixie
Don't tempt me Katie, I have enough series going in my little brain to add a 30 book one!
10. Jac
I think seven is a nice round number for a series. You know one of my favorite series of books is the Harry Potter series and I think she did well in seven books, as did CS Lewis with his Narnia books. However, I don't read these others you mentioned, except the Sookie books, so I really can't comment on those; having not read them. But, I have to agree with a reader who commented that she wasn't sure what happened in the last Sookie book. While I understand the background of Eric's maker and all that, I somehow feel it unnecessary since I've a feeling that Eric will not be with Sookie "til death do they part". LOL Then again, who am I to say? =p
12. Keira
I liked the last ABVH novel well enough. It fixed a lot of Richard issues I had. I am checking the books out now from the library instead of adding them via purchases. I am a hardcore JC, Asher, and Micah fan. I honestly think LKH started a triumvirate between JC, Anita, and Micah but then it's like she completely forgot about it. I can say I am over the ardeur garbage being completely sexual. There’s a ton of hints to it having a different nature (love instead) but that it wasn't accessed ever in that manner because the main vampire of the bloodline, Belle Morte is the Evil Queen of Lust.
13. Jac
I think she'll end up with Sam.

I think this is a great question for all authors who start a series with a central character, in any genre. I read James Patterson's Alex Cross series and I think he's gone as far as he possibly can (I'm almost hoping he doesn't write anymore though I think he will write at least one more). He took that character (and the rest) as far as he can. I won't spoil the last book in case you have any readers who haven't read his latest, or any who read those books anyways. LOL But, it tied up all loose ends, IMHO. ;)
Natasha Carty
14. WickedLilPixie
@ Keira I totally agree, the Adeur stuff is what killed it for me. She has more men in bed with her then I know as friends in RL!

@ Jac I haven't read that series yet, I keep eyeing it but I am knee deep in so many series as it is!
Nancy McGregor
15. Jadedwolf
I totally agree a lot of series should have finished already. I've given up on Anita, Sookie, Carpathians, Midnight Breed, House of night and BDB. I love series that finish after six books. It's sad to leave the world but some stories just get dragged out over and over again. I love the hollows and I feel theres a strong enough story arc for it to keep going. I was so sad when Rachel Vincent's Shifters finished last year, I felt the world hadn't been explored enough. I could see Faythe's story had finished but I wanted to know about what happened to other characters. Richelle Mead's Succubus series finishes this year and I'll really miss the characters but the arc is ready to complete.
Sandy Hagman
16. SandyH
Lynn Viehl (also S. L. Viehl) ended her Darklyn series after 7 books. I would have read a couple more but the closure was nice. She also wrote a sci-fi series called Stardoc which ended after 10 books.

I don't mind reading books in a similar universe but I have given up on many series. Most, if I am interested (such as Charlaine Harris, JD Robb and Suzanne Brockmann), I will get from the library but I stop buying after 5 or 6 - except I cannot seem to stop with Nalini Singh.
Tanja Haack
17. ToniWI
There is a point where an author has to say goodbye to their series. Laurell K Hamilton's two series are starting to get past their prime. There are so many characters, it's hard to keep up with everyone. Maybe find a way to kill off several characters to give the books a fresh start.
Jennifer Rutherford
18. jenfullmoon
It depends. I am suspecting more and more that series need to end before they become long runners, but it depends on how the series goes. Hell, Jim Butcher's done 12 books and HOLY SHIT #12 is even more interesting than #1, you know?

Things that will kill a series long before it's ready to go:
(a) Plot twists that piss everyone off, a la Anita Blake.
(b) Running out of plot and/or rehashing the same old shit, a la Queen Betsy or Merry Gentry.
(c) Series that don't allow characters to grow and change and thus you get bored of the same thing for 12 books, a la Stephanie Plum.
(d) The main character gets whinier and whinier-- my friend said that about the Abby Cooper series, I am undecided yet there.
(e) The plot twists get wilder and stupider and more ridiculous to the point where you are just angered reading them, and they take you out of the carefully built world you liked before.
(e) Feeling like the series should have met a natural end ages ago, but it hasn't, and now it's just getting pumped up with needless drama. I used to like Outlander, but the last few books, well, I quit. Somehow it just felt like they were given painful situations just to have a plot. Like I remember thinking, "why is Jamie having another near-death experience again in this one? Huh?" Stuff like that.

I am also usually more hooked on books with an arc, that follow one character for many books, and have big(or big-ish) developments per story. I like reading Eve Dallas books when I come across them, but I don't feel compelled to buy them when they come out because not that much gripping stuff carries over from book to book. They're more of a shallow pleasure in some respects. As for romance series where they switch from couple to couple, it'll depend on the couple. I love some of Suzanne Brockmann's couples a lot more than others, so I pick them up here and there. I think the only series like that where I've read everything were the Bridgertons. And I've read most of the Carsingtons, though I just couldn't get into Miss Wonderful so I've skipped it.
Natasha Carty
19. WickedLilPixie
@ Jadedwolf - Re: Rachel Vincent, ME TOO! I loved that series!
@ Sandy - I usually wait until the Hardcovers go on sale for those series that just won't end but curiosity kills me every single time!
@ Toni - I LOVE that idea! Seriously, take out all the extra men, leave two let them fight for Anita...the end?
@ Jen - The last Betsy book damn near killed me, I was so freaking lots I had no idea what the heck was going on and what the POINT of it was!
20. Jax
I love the In Death books and still love Eve Dallas just as much as the first book, but I will tell you that I love hearing the book on tape even more than reading it myself. The reader for that series is Susan Erikson and I adore the voices she uses for Roarke, Eve, Mavis, Nadine, Peabody and all the rest of the gang. If you want a real treat, check out the audio version of the series.

As for anything by Hamilton? ICK. Just ick. Her meltdown as a writer is the most painful thing I've ever read. Her early books are jewels but the last dozen offerings? Unspeakable, unrealistic, unreadable. I hung on longer to Merry Gentry but even that series has started icking me out. Two babies with six fathers? Please.
Donna Kissam
21. The Cat Bastet
There's also "Peak Too Early," which...maybe it's just me, but if JRW had held out on Zsadist I would've kept going till I got him. They may be just fine after book three but I got mine. Maybe if the girls hadn't all been so boring. I assumed they would continue to bore.
Marie Choi
22. MarieC
I can't say that I would wish a series to end after a number books, Rather I would prefer that they end a series if there is no defined story to continue. I will still buy Nalini Singh's Psy-Changling (or her Guild Hunter) series as well as the Mercy Thompson (really, anything by P. Briggs) , Sookie Stackhouse, and Kate Daniels (Ilona Andrews) books.

One series I was sorry to see go was Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series. What an great series of books!

However, I will admit that I am sick to death of Riley Jensen and just waiting to find out how it all ties up.
23. Kerith
I totally agree that at some point the series has to end. The following I have loved but are ready to let go.

Sookie: I think that this rate she will end up alone.
In Death: I only read it for the Roarke parts . . . do love him, but after a while the violence does make me ill.
Outlander: I heard that after the 3rd book they don't focus on Jamie and Clair as much, so I stop there.
DBD: Don't get me started. Loved them (esp. V), but now I feel like the author did not like how things ended in earlier books and is now trying to changing them. I feel like if she wanted the story to go one way she should have stood up and done it before, but now it is too late.
Ms. Cole's IAD: Who am I kidding? I am never stopping!
Anita: I like sex, but I can not enjoy reading about it when I have just been lecture about how awesome Anita is and that she only knows what love really is for many pages. By the time we get to the good part, I have headache. Merry I think I can read another book about her.
Singh: I really liked the Psy books, but I think now I am a little bored with her. And Please forgive me I am really bored with Angel series.

All of these series have one or two books I will reread to the end of time, but I think it is time fore me to move on. There are some really great series that are now just starting, and need my time. Except for IAD, I love them all!
24. Kerith
To Jax

That is how I got in to In Death. Susan does such a great job with those books.

I also like Richard Armitage (sp?). He reads Georgette Heyer Books. AWESOME!
25. SarahW
It is interesting to hear that so many people love the in death audio, I couldn't stand it at all. In fact, after listening to just a few discs I gave up the series for a couple years until I could get the terrible accent she did for Roarke out of my head.
Natasha Carty
26. WickedLilPixie
I have yet to read In Death but you all are making me want to read it, just to see if I agree!
27. mckeener
i love the Anita Blake series, however it has gotten to the point where most of the story is who she is having sex with, where and WHY. the last book she never even left the bedroom just got the updates on her phone.

she peaked with BLUE MOON and it started going down hill from then on.
Donna Kissam
28. The Cat Bastet
The absolute rule with Anita Blake is you read through Blue Moon, then you skip ahead to Obsidian Butterfly, and then you *get out*.

But I have to say Anita running the Boning Board (which is the zoning board, except for boning) via text message is pretty hilarious. I doubt Anita thought it was, though. That's the problem with her. She takes herself seriously.
29. darkest_star
I love Laurell K Hamilton's books, but the ABVH series did get bad. I think in one I only got 30 pages in before the orgy started. I read Blood Noir, and it did seemed to be a little better. I agree with earlier posts, either stop the ardeur or kill off some of the men. As for her Merry Gentry series, I thought it was over with Swallowing Darkness, but then it was continued with Divine Misdemeanors, which I actually liked.

As for Sookie, I'm very glad that series is ending. It started out good, but I'm over it.
30. Di
There are still several characters in the JR Ward's BDB series I want to hear about but I think she may be finishing soon, now she's got her new Fallen Angel series. Kresley Cole's IAD series was starting to look a bit tired, the last 2 books did have me hooked but not as much, I think because they were based around lesser known characters but I think the next one about Regan will definitely perk it up again. One series that finished too soon was Cheyenne McCray's Magic series - only 5 books and you never felt as if there was any real conclusion to it all. Christine Feehan's Carpathians, I will never tire of but I hope she doesn't release any more Sea Haven books as the last one had the last sister living happily ever after. One of my pet hates I'm afraid is authors who base a series totally around one main character so I could never get into the Sookie or Anita type novels. However, novels like Sherrilyn's Dark Hunter series which have repeat appearances from past characters are fabulous
31. nightsmusic
I bemoan the fact that Moning ended her Highlander series and though I tried three or four times, I just could not get into her Fever series at all which is probably as it should be. Besides the fact that I really dislike first person, to me a romance, whether paranormal, contemporary or what have you, has to have a HEA to be considered Romance. The Fever series is not romance and though Moning has said her spinoffs will be a slightly different style (most likely back to 3rd) they will continue in the UF vein.

So, though there are other series which I think might have hit their limit (Ward's BDB is one, I haven't read those since the Casper incident because of the totally dissatisfying ending), a series like Moning's Highlanders or Kenyon's Dark Hunters are ones I could happily read forever.
32. Mikki Lava
I totally agree with the Anita Blake series. I got so tired of every male character wanting to have sex with her and just about every female character hating her or getting killed. I couldn't take it after Incubus Dreams.

I still love the Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark Hunter novels and their spin-offs. She has a way of making all of her characters interesting. In regards to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the infamous "Casper Incident" almost made me quit the series and I think Phury's story was just abysmal. The charcters were woefully under developed, but I gave the series another chance because I was interested in Rehvenge's story. Thank goodness she redeemed herself in that book. John Matthew's story was okay. I hope Payne's story doesn't disappoint me.

I don't think I will ever tire of Christine Feehan's Carpathians series, but I was disappointed that she never explored that lost tribe of werewolves that she brought up with Manny and Mary Ann's story.
33. MaryJane
Christine Feehan's Carpathian series to me is to repetative. The majority of them is the same thing happening over and over only with just different character names and a few changes here and there. I liked her Ghost Walker series but after the 4th book it to was getting old. I liked her Sea Haven series but it to started to feel repeative to me. Like I had already read the story only with different character names.

Lynn Viehl ended her series properly. Her books kept me interested until the very last book and I was sad to see the series end.

BDB - I was majorly disapointed in how V's book ended. Every book after V's was a disapointment. The books went into more detail about the Lessors and the Scribe Virgins disapointments than I wanted. I wanted the books to be more about the main character and less about the war.

Kresley Coles IAD series kept me interested until Bowens book came out. After that I havent really been buying them as much as I was.

Nalini Singhs series about the Pysch has kept my interest only cause I want to read Hawkes story. The last few books she has released Ive read but Im really just waiting on Hawkes story to come out.

My feeling is 7 is a good series number. After more than that the books get repeative to me. I tried to read the Sookie Stackhouse books but couldnt get into them. But I do watch the True Blood series on HBO that is based on her books. The series I like but if you read the books you know that some of the main characters that are in the True Blood arent in the books.

I read the Twilight series while the first couple of movies came out about it. I wish now that I hadnt cause it ruined my expierence of enjoying the movies. The Twilight series are greatly written books.
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