The highly anticipated Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris was released this week, just in time to get caught up on the adventures of Sookie, Eric, Bill, Pam, Jason, Sam and Alcide before this summer’s True Blood season 3 on HBO. True to its title, the story centers around family issues for each of the characters. Sookie’s little “nephew” Hunter makes an appearance, along with her cousin Claude and great-uncle Dermot; Eric’s maker Appius Livius Ocella comes into town; and Bill is reunited with his vampire sibling Judith. The backdrop to all these new character introductions is the increasingly violent nature of the heroine, Sookie Stackhouse. With each new novel, Ms. Harris has created a darker character in Sookie. While she still retains her original set of values and cheery personality, with each book a little of that gentle good nature and moral compass disappears, culminating in her level of ferocity in the current book.
Dead and Gone left many fans wondering about what was going to happen to Eric, Bill and Sookie: Will Eric and Sookie continue to be a couple? Will Sookie and Bill get back together? Why wasn’t Eric there when Sookie was being tortured? What did Ms. Harris mean when Pam said to Eric, “As you live on in Sookie”? This novel only briefly touches on answers to these questions and does not focus on the relationships between these three characters. As the author does plan on writing more installments, the furtherance of those storylines will most likely be addressed in upcoming books.
As with Dead and Gone this was another quick read. From beginning to end, the story was engaging, with a good pace – only the beginning while Sookie was recovering seemed to drag. But the shortness of the story, the unanswered questions about Sookie and Eric, and a few hanging/dropped plot points made this novel feel unfinished. The author increases the threat of Victor Madden, who oversees Eric and the other Louisiana vampires, early in the book, but drops that part of the story midway through, without real explanation as to why the threat was abated for the time being. With the number of storylines included in this novel, a longer book could have really filled in some of these gaps and made it feel less rushed between the many action sequences. Piled on top of one another as they were made it read as if it was a script for an action flick rather than a book where it’s not only the action, but the development of character that make up the story.
Overall, it was worth the wait. It was nice to be introduced to a few new characters, get questions answered about characters previously only alluded to, and to re-enter the world of Sookie Stackhouse in Bon Temps where humans co-exist with vampires, shapeshifters, and the fae.