Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ghost Town by Rachel Caine

I'll start this by saying that I really loved Kiss of Death. I think of the nine Morganville books I've read so far Kiss of Death is my favourite. It may have been the fact that Rachel Caine shook it up a little by taking the gang on a road trip, thereby taking them and herself out of a comfort zone without having the  safety net of Morganville.

Early on I was feeling a bit Morganvilled out by Ghost Town. It seemed rather formulaic, and I guess books like this that become a bit of a franchise of their own do get that way after a few books, it's hard not to, when you're dealing with the same characters book after book. Morganville is unlike other long running series that I like, such as the Dresden Files, in that because the main characters are stuck in the town and it's rare for people to come to Morganville, it doesn't get to develop a large cast of supporting characters in the way that Jim Butcher has been able to do with his wizard for hire.

Things changed significantly about halfway through when the real hook for this book became apparent. The magical computer that keeps people in Morganville and causes those that are able to leave to forget the place was broken when the force that kept it alive died.

Teenage genius Claire Danvers is tasked with fixing it. Claire does manage to get it fixed, but then weird things start happening. People begin to lose memories. They lose about three years. That's bad enough when it's people, but when it starts to affect the vampire population as well it becomes downright scary.

The only people that seem to escape the 'amnesia' are Claire and one of Morganville's vampire mover and shakers Oliver, as well as Claire's boyfriend's father Frank Collins. Claire and Oliver can be explained by the fact that neither of them was in Morganville three years ago. Frank Collins has a hatred for the place that somehow manages to keep his mind in the here and now.

It's up to that unlikely trio of allies to try and put things right, but to turn the computer off they have to get past Myrnin.

For most of the books Myrnin is portrayed as a fairly quirky and cuddly kind of character with his fanged bunny slippers and pet spider named Bob. Prior to Claire's arrival and her becoming his lab assistant Myrnin was both devious and dangerous. This is the Myrnin readers see for most of Ghost Town. Kudos to Rachel Caine for doing that, because it's not easy taking both an author favourite and an audience favourite and altering them so that they see the less pleasant side of them.

Another thing I thought was done very effectively and was also extremely clever. Taking most of the major players back three years in their lives showed their backgrounds and the background of the town wonderfully well, and doing it this way meant there was no clumsy and lengthy exposition, it was done as part of the storyline.

Things, as generally in Morganville, are wrapped up fairly happily at the end, but there are a couple of loose ends that are very deliberately left untied to move into the next book in the series (Bite Club). One is a history book that Claire manages to find, a history of Morganville, it gives facts and details about the town's founder Amelie that she would rather be kept private. Claire knows she has the book and she knows that Amelie if she knew about it, would prefer that it did not come to light. The other was something that Myrnin did at the end of the book. It's rather chilling and again highlights no matter how much Myrnin likes to play the absent minded mad professor he is still an old and ruthless vampire who will do whatever it takes to keep things running the way he wants them to.

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