Dead to the World
Who said vampires can’t be fun? Charlaine Harris clearly doesn’t buy it as she proves once again in the latest entry in her delightful Sookie Stackhouse series.
Since bad boys have always held immense appeal for me, fans of the series won’t be surprised that I’ve always had a major Jones for Eric, the sexy vampire “sheriff” of Louisiana and, if you share that feeling, you won’t want to miss this book. But, for those unfamiliar with the series, Dead To The World isn’t the place to start. Ms. Harris’s paranormal mythology is complex and a thorough understanding of vampires and their place in the author’s world – not to even mention the equally complex relationships between the characters – is required. Ms. Harris doesn’t provide a lot of clues to the latter and more than once I found myself struggling to remember details from previous books.
But to make a very long story short, the invention of synthetic blood a few years before the action in this book led the vampires of the world to publicly announce their existence. Still, even though vampires now enjoy civil rights, not everyone in the world views them with a welcoming eye. And, not surprisingly, humans who associate with them – like the telepathic small town waitress Sookie Stackhouse – aren’t viewed with much more charity.
Driving home after working the busy New Year’s Eve shift at Merlotte’s Bar, Sookie is still understandably angry with her old boyfriend Bill the vampire after his actions in Club Dead. With Bill on his way to Peru and a fresh New Year’s resolution “to not be beaten up,” Sookie is stunned to discover a naked Eric the vampire running down the road. Even more surprising, Eric doesn’t recognize Sookie or – horror of horrors – even know who he is.
Soon enough Sookie discovers that Eric’s amnesia has wrought even more changes. This vampire (I thought of him as the “New Eric”) is actually a nice guy, unlike the scintillatingly sexy, but undeniably scary Old Eric. Resisting Old Eric is easy, resisting the new vulnerable version is a great deal harder.
Eric’s amnesia, his underlings Pam and Chow inform Sookie, is due to his rebuff of the advances of a powerful and evil witch who not only wants to Do Eric, she also plans to take over his lucrative businesses. Clearly, this witch does not take rejection well – especially since posters offering a large reward for the whereabouts of the vampire sheriff have begun to appear all over town.
With the witches determined to hunt him down, Sookie accepts a large sum of money from the vampires to hide Eric at her remote home until the witches can be vanquished. But dealing with a tall, hot, amorous vampire constantly under foot soon turns out to be the least of Sookie’s problems when her brother Jason (a certified Dog whose latest bed mate was a shapeshifter from an inbred local community) mysteriously disappears.
There’s a lot going on here and, for the most part, I loved it. However, considering my grade of B, I’ve got a few quibbles. Not the least of these problems is the fact that the big confrontation with the witches – the penultimate moment in the book – ultimately didn’t live up to all the hype. I was expecting a Big Darn Deal and, to be honest, it turned out to be a bit of a whimper. Equally, the ending is a bit disappointing. I won’t go into any detail here for fear of spoilers, but, heck, I just wasn’t happy with the way matters are resolved.
Those who love the series will have to decide for themselves if Dead To The World is worth the hard cover price tag. I’m a bit iffy on that, but I think keeping up with Sookie’s adventures without waiting for the paperback would, for me, ultimately be a worthwhile investment.
Anyone who enjoyed Unwed And Undead and hasn’t read any of this series, should definitely run (not walk) to the bookstore or library to pick up Dead Until Dark. Though the tone is decidedly different (there’s no slapstick humor here), the sense of fun and the sheer charm of heroine Sookie will appeal to readers of Ms. Davidson’s book, though I’ll be honest and admit I like Ms. Harris’s touch quite a bit better.
For my money, as someone who’s followed the series from the beginning and long anticipated an Eric-centric book, Dead To The World was more than worth the wait. And one final word: If you liked Old Eric, believe me, you’re going to be blown away by the new one.