Have you ever read a book that leaves you with more questions at the end than when you started? I hate when I finish a book and realize that there are still a thousand unanswered questions in my mind and no sequel in sight. Here are a few that will likely always drive me a little crazy when I start to think about how unsatisfied I felt at the end…
P.S. This post is intentionally vague because I don’t want to spoil any of these books for you. All of them are still really great books, so don’t fear reading them, but be warned that you might end up as frustrated as me in the end.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – The story in this book just gets crazier and crazier until you finally start to piece things together and then realize that there is actually NO ENDING! It’s one of the most frustrating books I’ve ever read because the characters just walk away from everything they have been building towards, leaving you feeling completely unsatisfied with the outcome.
Synopsis: Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of-a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known-and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Suzanna Clarke – I’m sure this book was picked up by a lot of people after the BBC mini-series aired, but I read it many years before (book hipster, I know) during a time when I was reading a LOT of fantasy. The setup for Jonathan and Mr. Norrell’s stories are so detailed in the book, and yet by the end it all seems to be too rushed. Major characters are introduced and then left hanging. I don’t know if Susanne Clarke ever intends to write more, but she has a gigantic audience waiting with baited breathe for some sort of resolution.
Synopsis: At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England–until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.
Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.
Callahan’s Con by Spider Robinson – This is the last book in a series that spans years, and I don’t think that the author intentionally stopped writing the stories… he just sort of got distracted. So you are left with this new setting, interesting new characters, plot points that are unresolved, and nowhere to go.
Synopsis: The discreet little bar that Jake Stonebender established a few blocks below Duval Street was named simply The Place. There, Fast Eddie Costigan learned to curse back at parrots as he played the house piano; the Reverend Tom Hauptman learned to tend bar bare-chested (without blushing), Long-Drink McGonnigle discovered the margarita and several señoritas, and all the other regulars settled into comfortable subtropical niches of their own. Nobody even noticed them save the universe.
Polgara the Sorceress by David Eddings – The main question I think everyone has after reading this book (and hopefully the rest of the series as well) is “what sex are the babies!?!?!” I’m sure that sounds like a totally crazy question out of context, but there is this whole theme throughout the series that focuses on how there is only ONE female sorcerer in the whole world and how lonely that can be. To finally, possibly, have more sorceresses in the world is kind of a big deal!
Synopsis: Her hair streaked white by her father’s first touch, her mind guided by a mother she will not see again for centuries, Polgara begins life in her Uncle Beldin’s tower, and in the prehistorical, magical Tree that stands in the middle of the Vale. There, she first learns the reaches of her powers. There she assumes the bird shapes that will serve her on her adventures. And there she starts on the path toward her destiny as Duchess of Erat, shepherdess of the cause of good, adversary of Torak the One-Eyed Dragon God, and guardian of the world’s last, best hope: the heir to the Rivan throne.
The Kneeboy Boy by Ellen Potter – This book looks like it should be fantasy, but it’s set in a heartbreaking reality akin to the Series of Unfortunate Events books. The end of this book is so good, but so maddening as well because you finally learn the truth of the situation and then it just ends. There is no real resolution to the issues that launch the story in the first place.
Synopsis: Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague. But after their father unwittingly sends them to stay with an aunt who’s away on holiday, the Hardscrabble children take off on an adventure that begins in the seedy streets of London and ends in a peculiar sea village where legend has it a monstrous creature lives who is half boy and half animal. . . .
Do you like 5 Books Friday? If you want to participate, here’s a list of the upcoming topics that I’ll be writing about! Leave a link to your post in the comments, and if enough people join I can make this a real linkup!