Sit next to me, darling and we'll chat.
But seriously, I face a dilemma. I really want to vent about the novel I finished last night, but I'd rather not savage a fellow author on the web. (Disclaimer - if I know you, then no it wasn't your novel. I've never met this author. He doesn't even live on the same continent.)
The problem isn't that the novel was bad. The problem is that the novel was so good that I was with it right up until the end. I was there, man, rooting for the protagonist through every twist and turn. I was so there that I stayed up until 4am finishing the novel. (Just one more chapter, Mom!) It has nearly everything my little heart desires in a good book. Literate allusions, moving backstory, a touch of the noir plus gothic plus detective thriller with a strong dose of meta-fiction, castles, Paris, obscure Latin clues, one armed Nazis, decayed nobility, an inexplicably likable anti-hero, and a fallen angel with pale hazel eyes. My gosh, there's even a dark and stormy night.
And then the ending happened. Oh that ending. Anti-climactic doesn't begin to describe it. If the whole book had been weak, I would have been prepared. I certainly wouldn't have stayed up until 4am finishing the darn thing. I might not have finished it at all. But to invest that much in the novel and then be let down was agonizing. It was like being promised brownies and getting wheat thins. Stale wheat thins.
If you promise big, you'd better deliver big, or the reader will want to strangle you. If you promise the reader a world shaking satanic ritual that will summon the prince of darkness himself, you'd better give us a good reason when he doesn't show up. If the villain is going to get sucked into the depths of hell, readers want to see it happen, not hear about it later. And the protagonist better actually protag about it, not just sit on the sidelines and wonder, in an idle sort of way, if he's going to get paid.
Deliver what you promise, fellow writers! Keep faith with the readers.