Tuesday, June 1, 2010

CBR Book#43: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

If anyone reads this blog (does anyone read it? Well, besides Jen K., ha!), then you know that I love love love the Sookie Stackhouse novels. They are crazy and sexy and entertaining. Well, all of the novels to this point have been all of this. As per usual with Sookie's adventures, SPOILERS AHOY!

We meet up with Sookie as she is recovering from the torture inflicted upon her during the fairy wars in the previous book. She had a bite taken out of her side, among other horrors. Sookie and Eric are still a couple but she isn't sure whether she loves him or if their blood bond is keeping them together. Sookie is also still figuring out why Eric couldn't, or wouldn't, come to her rescue when the fairies were torturing her. Bill was able to come to Sookie's rescue and he is still ill from a bite he suffered from a fairy with silver teeth.

Sam and other two-natured people, such as Alcide Herveaux, are reeling from their coming out party in the previous book. The government wants the two-natured to register and people are already giving the cold shoulder to people they've known for years. Alcide calls Sookie to request permission for the Long Tooth pack, his pack, to hunt on her land because there are some uninvited campers on the Herveaux land. Sookie agrees and meets some new members of the pack before they hunt. The next day, Sookie is informed that fairies and a vampire have been traipsing through her woods. She is also told that there is a dead body buried on her land.

Then we move on to Sookie and Eric being put under stress by the resurfacing of his maker, Appius Livius Ocella. If Appius so wishes, he can order Eric to kill Sookie or to return to him. Appius has also brought an unstable young man that he turned more than 80 years ago. The boy is ailing mentally and it was Appius's thought that being near his "brother" Eric would help him to heal. So that's a problem.

Also happening in this book, a murdered werewolf buried on Sookie's property deliberately; Sookie's fairy cousin, Claude, moving in with her; Sookie's dead cousin Hadley's little boy, who can read minds like Sookie, come for a visit; Sookie attempts to find Bill's "sister" to heal him; Victor, a vampire that works for the new King of Louisiana, wants Eric's job and is willing to kill for it; people protest at Merlotte's. If it seems like there is a lot going on in this book, that's because there is. There is too much going on in this book and not enough pages to properly give each thread its due. We have werewolves, vampire politics, family issues, equal rights-type questions, Sookie's feelings for Eric and Bill, and more.

Harris needs to realize that some things can wait until the next book. If she doesn't feel that one of the many, many threads in Sookie's life can wait, then she needs to learn how to write a book that is longer than 300 pages. Harris is an entertaining writer, for sure, and she has some great characters to work with here. But she keeps introducing more characters, usually to kill them off, and keeping all of the regular characters in a rotation around Sookie. Focus on one or two groups of characters, like she's done in previous books, and I would have been a lot happier with this entry in Sookie's series.

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