Last week I read Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews (twice. What can I say? It’s good).
What interests me is that it’s book 5 in a series, yet fresh. Strong voice and fast pacing are part of the reason. But I think the stand out factor is the character development. The conflict grows naturally out of characters maturing (and revelations of their backstory).
Character development is a challenge. Readers need to know enough about a character up front to engage with them, to care what happens to them, but if you reveal all of a character’s secrets right away–where’s the fun? You’ve squished tons of potential conflict by just dumping the info. Far better to remember that at the heart of most stories is a quest. Characters learn about themselves (and readers with them) on the perilous journey.
Still, there’s no getting away from it. A lively, engaging book 5 is a fab achievement.