Is It Time for Marla Mason to Retire?


I recently finished the last two novels in T.A. Pratt’s “Marla Mason” series, Grim Tides and Bride of Death. As usual, I enjoyed their fast-moving stories and the lively dialogue, with some unexpected twists and turns along the way (to be expected when Marla has to deal with chaos witches).

However, by the end of the latter book, I felt that perhaps the series has run its course for me. Part of it is due to the fact that Marla has become more powerful: she is now essentially a god who, if not immortal, is about as close as you can get to being so. As such, I think it becomes more difficult for this mortal to really empathize with her challenges and personal issues. It’s a bit like the old Dugenons & Dragons days for me, when I found I got more enjoyment out of playing low- to mid-level characters. Once the characters get really strong, the only interesting challenges have to be equally strong, and eventually you’re gaming with a character so much different from your average John Doe that it has almost nothing to do with your and my lives.

The other part of it is simply variety. I would like to see Mr. Pratt apply his not inconsiderable talents to fresh new endeavors: new characters, new plots, new worlds, even new styles. I’m sure it’s tempting to stick with a winner, and current fans may complain if he does not keep churning out MM stories, but even I can’t eat pizza every day, regardless of how much I like it. (Okay, I also can’t eat it every day because I’m on a low-fat, low-salt diet, but that’s another story.)

1 thought on “Is It Time for Marla Mason to Retire?”

  1. Yes, the primary reason I stop reading a series is when it hits the point where the characters can’t grow further. This is especially easy to hit in fantasy where magical powers or prowess has to be “upped” with each book. But I think it’s very hard for the publishers to allow a writer to move on. If the sales are there, they often refuse another series from a good author just to keep the main series going as long as there is any life left at all.

    In regular mysteries, I think it’s a little easier for a character to continue changing as the main growth can be “cleverness” or “more dangerous bad guys.” But even with these there comes a time when the books become a bit of comfort food and nostalgia rather than the compelling reads of the first x in the series.

    There can be relationship growth in both genres and those can get old too. I’m currently reading a series (cozy mystery) that I really love…but this fourth book feels as though the relationship development is being strung out. Rather than following a more natural flow or giving it the attention it needs, the plot finds us with contrived situations to keep the two apart longer…and I find an urge to move to reading something else.

    I know I had a way to long in here before, but haven’t the faintest idea what that login might be so I just created another me. Have a Happy Fourth!

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