Written by Charlaine Harris
Published by Ace
Sookie Stackhouse is just your typical poor Louisiana girl…she works as a waitress in a diner, has to get her tomcat brother out of trouble a lot, her ex-boyfriend is a vampire, and she can read minds. Oh, wait a minute. Ok, so she’s not completely typical. Having broken up with Sookie, Bill is off to Peru, leaving Sookie to deal with her life alone. Witches have erased Eric’s memory, leaving Sookie to babysit and hide him, while she also tries to get over Bill and find her brother Jason, who has gone missing under some very disturbing circumstances. War is brewing, with good witches, shapeshifters, and vampires on one side, and very powerful shapeshifting bad witches who drink vampire blood on the other. Sookie’s survival has never been more in doubt.
One of the best things about Harris’ Southern Vampire series is the tight characterization. Sookie has a unique and distinct voice; her humanity causes what could be a mediocre or even pedestrian series to life and makes readers genuinely care about what happens to her and those she loves. Even the secondary characters have personalities and lives of their own: Sam the were-collie, Eric Northman the Viking vampire, and the rest all have solid identities and definite roles to play in the novel. The only character who doesn’t seem to fit at all is the faery, who is frankly annoying, and completely out of place, though perhaps that will become the point somehow. There are some unanswered questions about why things happen the way they do, but the book is so well-written that these minor quibbles are just that–minor.
[ad#longpost]If you are part of the groundswell of dislike for the way Laurell K. Hamilton’s latest books are more smut than good story, then you should definitely check out Sookie’s adventures. Sookie is no prude (there is some explicit sex in this book), but she can actually be bothered to do something else now and again. Unlike the latest in the Anita Blake books, Sookie’s eroticism never distracts from the plot, but rather adds to it and is a natural outgrowth of the characters’ personalities and situations. One just hopes that the growing harem of men after Sookie (Bill, Eric, Sam, Alcide, and now werepanther Calvin Norris) will not lead Harris’ book down the same deadend alley as the Hamilton books.
Fans of vampire or werewolf fiction should give Dead to the World a look, but if possible, read the earlier installments in the series first. Readers new to the series will not find this one confusing, but reading the earlier books will enrich the experience. Those just looking for something light and fun, but not silly or pointless, will also find this rewarding reading.