Call the Ghostbusters! or How the Paranormal are Destroying Good Books

By Jenna Johnson

What’s the deal with all the Paranormal stuff in literature today?

As a reader, I’m pretty open to reading all genres of text: biography, fantasy, historical fact and historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction; the list goes on and on.

However, there is one genre that this writer is tired of seeing come to play in innocent novels: the paranormal.
Now, I love a good ghost story just as much as the next wannabe Paranormal Investigator; however, enough is enough when paranormal events, interactive ghostly specters, and other miscellaneous fantasy creatures cross over into a previously set series of 5 – or more, depending on the series – books with no such theme seen before.

The reason for my rant? The Renaissance Faire Mystery series by Joyce and Jim Lavene.

LevenebooksPlease do not misinterpret me when I say that I absolutely adore this series. As an English history enthusiast, an English Literature scholar, and a general Anglophile, I’m obsessed with the Renaissance era and literature. Even the RenFaires that allow ordinary folks like me to dress up, talk weird, eat giant turkey legs, and have fun.

This series starts out with Jessie Morton – grad student by school year, Renaissance Village cast member during summer – and her innate ability to immerse herself in the mysterious occurrences that take place around this fictitious Village in modern day Myrtle Beach, SC.

The series has everything in it I love in a great novel: intrigue, mystery, romance, danger; but starting with self-published Perilous Pranks (which is really a novella and not a full novel, but still considered book 5), a definite paranormal shift entered the plot and started to skew my opinion of this beloved series.

Why add the paranormal element to a series that was doing well on its own without it?

My only suspicion comes from the success of the Twilight series, and how successful it made Stephanie Meyer with book sales, movie rights, and merchandise royalties. Man, that four book series really made a mediocre novel set into a blockbuster hit.

Yes, I have read the Twilight series, but when it comes to great literature, this isn’t it. Sorry tween-agers.

twilightFrom that popular vamp series, you have a plethora of authors who have been cashing in on the success that vampires, werewolves, ghosts, faeries, elves, witches, and Cthulhus bring them. Authors like Lyndsay Sands with her Argeneau Vampire romance series, PC Cast with her House of Night series, Laurell K. Hamilton with her Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry series (vampire and faerie respectively). Seth Graham-Smith has even cashed in on changing literary classics like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility into paranormal rubbish by adding zombies and sea monsters. Nothing is safe when adding a paranormal element. Even Honest Abraham Lincoln was made a vampire hunter that made it on the New York Times Bestseller List.

When will the madness stop?

But then again aren’t most novels we pick up today is an amalgamation of some forms of genres? There is no rhyme or reason to the genre blends that fill today’s bookstores. Books today aren’t like the classics of yesteryear, much to the chagrin of myself and many contemporaries.

I definitely cannot say that I have not read genre mash-ups before. In fact, one of my favorite mystery series (A Vintage Magick Mystery series by Annette Blair, to be precise), revolves around the main character Maddie being a psychic who reads vintage clothing in order to help solve crimes.

BlairbooksBut oddly enough I have no problem with the supernatural/paranormal within this series because the reader knew from the first chapter of the first book that Maddie is special, and that she is going to take you on a thrilling ride.

With the Renaissance Faire Mystery series, however, there was no sign of magic, or psychics, or sorcerers, or fairies, or elves, or ghosts until a character we love to hate becomes a ghost after her death.

Why the sudden abrupt change?

Were the authors losing readers, and needing a way to keep their attention? Well, they would have kept mine even more so without the supernatural element added in. 

Was this their plan all along? Because I surely don’t understand it and neither do many other readers – at least according to reviews on the series’ Goodreads page.

Why are books six, seven, and eight self-published and not in the preferred mass-media size? Could it be that the publishers didn’t like the way the series was progressing? That’s my only explanation.

To answer a question that may be as old as mass produced books; no, not all bibliophiles like the books they read, or the path those books take. In fact, there are very rare occasions where we force our minds to recreate what we just read into something that makes more sense, or create a better ending where a lackluster one currently exists.
With the Renaissance Faire series, I may not be able to go back and recreate everything paranormal, or supernatural, that I have read. Although, I can make the best of a series that I have loved since page one, even if I have to grit my teeth in the meantime.

So, readers, what books have left you wanting and yearning? Whether for more, or for a different approach, or even a different ending. Tell me in the comments below, I can’t wait to read them.

Also, if you want to take a look at what I’m currently reading, some of what I’ve read before, and what I want to read, check out my Goodreads page.

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