Friday, April 4, 2014

666 Park Avenue Trilogy: NOT the Script for Last Year's TV Series, But Worth Reading On Its Own


Last year's TV series 666 Park Avenue promised a lot: At 666 Park Avenue, all of your dreams and burning desires can come true: wealth, sex, love, power, even revenge. But just be careful what you wish for, because the price you pay...could be your soul. 

The series delivered a lot of thrilling suspense and supernatural mystery at the beginning, but gradually got harder and harder to follow. That's when I decided to follow up on the novels listed each week in the credits as the basis for the series.

The Eponymous Novel 1: Not Quite What I Expected

First in the trilogy is 666 Park Avenuethe series of three novels by Gabriella Pierce that supposedly provided the framework for the TV seriesI hoped the novels would help me catch up on the TV series. It didn't. In fact, they could not have helped me with the TV show, because they tell a whole other story!

Just to start, the building at that ominous address is not a condo/hotel, it is a private multi-generational mansion. And Jane's partner is named Malcolm, not Henry. The sinister mover behind the scenes at 665 Park Place is Lynne Doran, not Gavin Duran, and Malcolm is her son.

But put all the differences aside, and you can enjoy this creepy thriller for its own guilty pleasure. Jane is the beautiful innocent (clueless, in other words, and hence vulnerable) seduced by the exotic worldly dark man of every palm-reader's staple prediction. The story of how she finds her feet in the whirlwind and comes into her own power is a good one.

Overload Alert: For a guy's taste, there is an AWFUL lot of wedding fashion, kitsch and designer labels thrown into the mix. Just put on your filters, boys, and skim past it; I promise it isn't essential to the tale.

Novel 2: Glamour, Yes - Dark, No
The middle novel, The Dark Glamour, takes up the tale of Jane Boyle, witch in training, as she hides from her mother-in-law in New York City.

I almost said, she hides in plain sight, but actually her appearance is completely shifted by the "dark glamour" of the title. Thanks to a spell and a bottomless purse (courtesy of her out-of-sight husband Malcolm), innocent blond Jane gets to swank around New York and London as model-tall, model-glamorous Elle, a sultry brunette with a wicked sense of humor and a lot more confidence in her powers.

This shift is echoed by a much lighter story. Although the tension continues to build, Jane believes she has found a way to get her mother-in-law off her back and at the same time help a young woman with a 
history similar to her own find her family and claim her powers. In addition, Jane's friends supply a better foil for her shift from clueless victim to "good witch".

I forgive Pierce for the blatant telegraphing of the plot gimmick, since the story is otherwise well-told and fairly well balanced. (And because every good thriller deserves a cliff-hanger ending!)

Novel 3: The Finale (Maybe) to 666 Park Avenue
Now that I had read the first two books of this series, I wasn't expecting anything like the TV series 666 Park Avenue in this third novel of the trilogy.

But I was pleased to see the tale in The Lost Soul take up where The Dark Glamour left off, with Jane and her friends having helped Lynne Doran, Jane's sinister mother-in-law, locate her long-lost and presumed dead daughter, Annette.

The problem is, they haven't helped the daughter reconnect with a loving family at all. They've only served up the next victim in Lynne Doran's plot, the replacement for Jane herself. And now, being a "good witch", Jane will move heaven and earth to rescue her.

That's if she can convince Annette she needs rescuing.

This is a rousing climax to the trilogy, and ends with sufficient hooks for Pierce to take up the tale again later. Very satisfying as a single novel and as a series!