I recently announced that the first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – had gone into global Prime Reading meaning that Prime members can access it for free and find out how it all begins.
I’m excited to announce that the final book in the series – Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow – has also gone into Prime Reading this week so we now have the start and end of the six-book series in there.
You know that weird feeling you get when you see a police officer and you instantly feel guilty, even when you’ve done nothing wrong, or when the boss asks to see you and you instantly feel like you’re going to be in trouble? This is how I feel when I ask readers to read a full series.
It feels ridiculously uncomfortable and I don’t fully know why. Perhaps it’s because I feel bad asking them to buy six books, but it’s not like I’m asking them to shell out for six up-front. Try one and, if you like it, go for the others. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had a few readers telling me they don’t like series and wish I’d write standalone stories and I feel guilty that, each time I try to do that, I think too big and it typically ends up being a series or at least with a connected book.
Whatever the reason, I shouldn’t feel that way. I should be proud to say that I write in series and not feel embarrassed to state the truth: that some series should be read in full and in order. You’ll notice a specifically used the words ‘some series’ because this is not necessarily true of every series. There are some that you can dip in and out of or join in on later books but the Hedgehog Hollow series is not that type of series and here’s why:
- There is one consistent narrator – Samantha Wishaw – throughout all six books. It is her story and, running alongside that, we meet her family, friends and members of the local community, some of whom also have stories to be explored alongside Samantha’s, resulting in a guest narrator from book 2 onwards
- Samantha grows and develops across the six books and so do some of the characters. Joining the series partway through misses out on their journey and it’s the journey that makes them three-dimensional flawed characters, just like you and me. It’s why we’re rooting for the heroine and hissing at the villain(s)
- There are some recurring storylines and themes handled across the series such as the difficult relationship Samantha has with a couple of family members, mental health and forgiveness. Joining the series late misses out on these
- I come full circle on a couple of things. I can’t say much more as I’ll give away spoilers but there are some things that happen at the start and end which are poignant but would be missed by anyone who hasn’t followed the full series
- There are a lot of characters introduced across the series. They cast grows gradually with each book but, if anyone starts at book 6 when they’re all there, they’ll be lost. There are way too many characters to meet at once
- I didn’t design this as six standalone books. I wrote a series set in a hedgehog rescue centre and the full story is roughly 600,000 words long and being told across six books
I do provide a ‘story so far’ section at the start of book 2 onwards, alongside a cast of characters, but these were written to act as a reminder for readers who want a quick refresh on what happened in the previous book before they settle down with the next instalment. They weren’t designed to cover everything that happened in the previous book(s) to negate the point of reading the previous books.
Before Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow came out, it was available for early reviews to bloggers and influencers and pretty much everyone who had read the other books give it a 4 or 5 star rating (mainly 5). All the negative reviews were from those who’d picked up book 6 as their starting point and they didn’t follow what was going on, thought there were too many characters, didn’t understand the connections between characters, believed there were too many issues covered (despite many of those mentioned being ones from previous books which were coming to a conclusion). Basically, they hated it and that was so upsetting.
I felt like I’d scream if I saw one more review open with the immortal words “I didn’t realise this was book six in a series…” What doesn’t make sense to me is why those reviewers continued to read it and leave a negative review. If it was me, my reaction would have been: Oops, better not continue as I’m probably not going to follow this. But maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, the whole point of this is to explain why this particular series really needs reading as a series. Readers will get so much more enjoyment by doing this, seeing Samantha grow and develop and the world of Hedgehog Hollow change so, if you’re new to the series, absolutely do grab yourself book 1 from Prime Reading and maybe book 6 too but do read the four in the middle for a richer, fulfilling story. After all, they’ll both be in Prime right up until the end of the year and probably a little past that so there’s plenty of time to fit them all in:
- Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow
- New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow
- Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow
- A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow
- Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow
- Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow
And for those not in Prime Reading, all six are free via Kindle Unlimited, can be borrowed from your library in a range of formats, and book 1 is available on Audible Plus for free if you’re an Audible subscriber.
What are your thoughts on series, as a reader, author or both? Are you very particular about series being read in order or perhaps you don’t mind flitting in and out? Maybe you never start a series until you know the last book has been written or published and then you binge it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In other news, just a quick heads-up to say that the first book in another series – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – is currently part of Audible UK’s 2 for 1 credit deal but it ends at 11.50pm on Saturday (8th October) so do grab it quick.