Friday, January 22, 2016

Hanging at the end

So, apparently I'm becoming known as a bit of a cliffy queen (laughs maniacally), because of this, I just wanted to take a moment and have a chat about cliff-hangers. 

There is loads of evidence to say that cliffhangers work to draw people back to the next part. Whether it's a book, a TV show episode, a movie (Lord of the Rings, I'm looking at you!), a cliffhanger gives people a reason to return.

I've heard some readers say they hate cliffhangers and won't read a book that has one. Does that mean it's up to the author to warn if a particular book ends on a cliffy (my personal opinion on this is no - if a book is part of a bigger series, I work on the assumption that there'll be *some* degree of cliffy at the end). 

I've heard the argument that if a book is good enough, if the writing is decent and the characters compelling there's no need for a cliffhanger. And yep, 100 percent agree, except . . . well, sometimes resolving the cliffy will kick off the next part of the overall ARC of the story. I know that's certainly the case for the two cliffies I've been blasted over for Declan's series. (Highlight text to reveal minor spoiler.) 

Sometimes, the story is 100 percent resolved, but the cliffy is there more in the reader's mind than on the page purely because they want to know what comes next for the characters. This is the case in Rise from Ash where we leave Evie and Clay at the point we leave them, with that part of the story resolved, but with a lingering threat in the air. 

As a reader, I love cliffhangers. Yes, the wait can be so frustrating--doubly so when it becomes clearer and clearer that the author is likely to never finish the next book--but the thrill of "OMG I have to know what happens next," is so much more intense when it comes at the end of the book than at the end of each chapters. It can leave the characters lingering in your mind long after you put the books down. Whether that's just because of the story ending in a cliffy or because the characters would linger anyway, who knows? I can say some of the more memorable book endings I've read are cliffhangers. A few spring instantly to mind: Lord of the Rings when Frodo was captured by Shelob. The ending of Radicals by Frankie Rose (that was certainly one that had my jaw hanging open).  

Love them or hate them, I do think cliffhangers have a purpose, and for some authors they're here to stay. For me, I won't say all of my books will end on a cliffy, I won't say they won't. It'll come down to the same thing it always comes down to for me. What are the characters saying? What do they want me to . . . 

(To be continued)

(Continued: say. Tell me what you think of cliffhangers in the comments.)


  1. I love a good cliffhanger except for when I don't expect one coming at the end of a book, for example I recently read a book that I didn't know was going to be part of a series and I got to the end and I was like WTF!!! Other than that yes they keep me interested in a story and make me want to read more.

  2. I agree with Clare, I think if you know the book is a part of a series (i.e. Book 1 etc.) then cliffhanger is not only acceptable but in some ways expected. However like you Happily Evan After and All Amity Allows even though part of a series no cliffhangers because the are stories that can be read as a stand alone book as well as part of as quasi-series.