Title: Dead to the World
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre: Paranormal mystery, Urban Fantasy
Stand Alone / series: Book 3 of Southern Vampires Mysteries, or Sookie Stackhouse books.
Summary: (from barnes&noble.com)
Ana: I did not like very much the previous instalment in the series, Club Dead. Even though I still loved Sookie, I thought her “voice” was a bit off on that book and its mystery did not work for me at all. Still, I held a firm belief that it was a fluke in the midst of a great series and I was not wrong. In fact Dead to the World is my favourite of the series so far – it has everything I liked in book 1 and 2: Sookie and her fantastic inner monologues and take on life, an interesting mystery, development to the overall story. And to finalise with a gold key almost no sign of Sleazy Bill and some great, amazing moments between Eric, the Viking and Sookie.
Thea: Coming off book 3, which I found the best so far in the series, this book felt kind of mediocre to me. I was happy to see Sookie return to Bon Temps and deal with new drama at home, but I have to say I’m kind of disappointed with the mushiness of this new storyline. Eric the viscious (but *sexy*) vampire has lost his memory and is a completely different, kind considerate person! Blech. Too much sap for me. Also…I kinda am getting that sick Anita Blake feeling in the pit of my stomach. Is Sookie working with her own version of ardeur? She seems to be collecting a whole bunch of manly men who are dying to sleep with her and whatever. The saving grace in this is that Sookie is still level headed, still a wonderful narrator, and the overall mystery story is still intact. Things picked up a lot at the end of this one, thankfully, and I’ll keep my hopes up for less sap in the next book.
On the Plot
It’s been a few days since the events that took place in Club Dead. With Her ex-boyfriend Bill out of the picture and gone to Peru to continue his research for the vampire’s database, Sookie is trying to get her life on track. It’s New Year’s Eve and after a long night of work at Merlotte’s Sookie is ready to go home and relax.
But life has other plans for our Sookie as driving home from work she sees someone running in the road like he is being chased. Sookie being Sookie, has to stop and help. To her complete surprise, the man is no other than Eric Northman who is half naked, barefoot and…..amnesiac.
Turns out Eric has been cursed by a coven of Witches that wish to take over his business. He is now vulnerable , in danger and with a reward of $50,000 for information on his head, the vampires turn to Sookie for help. Eric needs to stay hidden while they try to find a way to remove the curse and Sookie ends up being dragged into vampire business once again. This time though, her brother Jason, arranges for her to be paid $35,000 for her “services”.
Sookie now has to juggle her work as a waitress, her feelings for a new, improved, sweet Eric Northman, who seems to have lost not only his memory but also his aura of power and his womanising ways, whilst trying to figure out why a most powerful coven of witches is trying to take over Eric’s business and perhaps the whole region.
But things get even more complicated when Jason goes missing and Sookie is on the brink of losing the last person that matters to her. It seems her New Year’s resolution of not getting hurt is going to be a hard one to keep.
Witches, new shifters like were-panthers and a Fairy called Claudine all make an appearance in this instalment and as danger looms in the horizon, some uneasy alliances need to be made in order to fight a common threat.
Ana: I absolutely loved Dead to the World, or The Great Book of Eric and Sookie as I have become fond of calling it. The plotline involving Sookie and Eric was amazing in my opinion – I loved their interactions, the inner struggle that Sookie went through about him and about their involvement, I loved to see another side to Eric , a more vulnerable, sweet and tender side than what we are used to see in the all-powerful vampire. And before you go on thinking that all I can think about is the romance plotline, I will have you know that you could not be more wrong. I will admit to be partial to the Eric-Sookie story but I was completely riveted with the other developments as well.
I need to give props to Charlaine Harris’ prose. It flows so easily I really like how she writes Sookie and how she makes different plotlines come together in the end. I love the fact that in Dead to the World, we are back in Bon Temps and my feeling that the town itself and Sookie are of utmost importance is at the back of my mind at all times. Actually, I have suspicions that all these things happening in Bon Temps are not a coincidence at all. One of characters do mention that it is strange that all the supernatural happenings seem to be converging in Bon Temps – perhaps Bon Temps is like Sunnydale’s Hellmouth (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) ? Maybe I am seeing too much into it.
I liked the introduction of new supernatural beings – the witches and the fairies and how each fares in the overall scheme of things. I like seeing the uneasy association of shifters and vampires to fight against the witches. One of the things that I enjoy most is how there seems to be a balance between all beings in the world that Charlaine Harris created? The vampires are not all powerful and fearless of everything, in fact they are also vulnerable not only to regular human beings (that can capture them and Drain their blood for profit) but also to witches and Weres.
And I really want to see where she is going to take Sookie’s brother Jason, next – that particular plot line has an outcome that could have been a “jump the shark” moment but that proved to be, to me, both scary and heartbreaking. We may be yet granted with some awesome character growth for Jason and Sookie coming from that.
Needless to say the fact that we were Bill-less was a major reason for all the joy and happiness in the world. Plus I was seriously running out of terms of endearment for him.
Ok, so I found the usual mystery story here enjoyable, and riding along with Sookie as she tries to find her brother and the witch coven was entertaining as ever. On that count, I can’t really complain–although I am kind of peeved with the lack of story continuity. If Club Dead was a transitory book for Sookie’s character, then Dead to the World was a respite from what I am hoping is the overarching plotline. Unlike Ana, I was not exceptionally happy with this great love story between Sookie and Eric. Blah. I mean…he had amnesia! It’s the AMNESIA soap opera storyline–all of a sudden all his nastier personality defects are gone! Unhampered by his seductive yet viscious personality, Sookie is able to see the ‘real’ Eric and they have a torrid love affair.
Mmmm. This just isn’t my cup of tea. It’s very melodramatic and strikes me as kind of…pandering. I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority on this, but I just am not a huge fan of the love story stuff here. Granted, Sookie’s romantic entanglements have been a major storyline since book 1, but I gradually see how the romantic aspect is becoming more prevalent in these books, and that’s not really what I signed up for (again, Anita Blake warning bells going off–I’m wary of Ms. Harris going LKH’s route, which I concede is unfair…but c’mon, my jitteriness is warranted, I so loved early Anita!). From book 1, Sookie already had two–no three!–admirers. Now she has not only Bill, Sam, and Eric, but also Alcide; not to mention the minor characters that have a hankering for her as well (J.D., Uncle Norris from the inbreeding trailer pack of were creatures, heck even the vampires Chow and Pam think she’s a hot little package)…it’s getting to be a bit overwhelming.
So far as the rest of it goes, I enjoyed the new additions to Ms. Harris’ universe. Vampire blood drinking weres that are also witches. Spiffy. The mystery of Sookie’s missing brother is also nicely handled, and as usual, cleanly wrapped up. I agree with Ana here–there is a lot to look forward to concerning Sookie and Jason, and I’m eager to see where this plotline goes.
My only other gripe with the series so far is a lack of continuity. For example, in book 1, Sam was convinced he was the only shifter out there in Bon Temps, and all of a sudden there is a trailer park full of inbreeding weres right down the dirt road? Not to mention the huge pack Alcide is part of, just a scant hour’s drive away. Furthermore, the introduction of new paranormal creatures in each book is all fine and good, and so far has been working nicely. Although, it’s beginning to feel a bit rabbit-out-of-a-hat-ish. I’m just disappointed that everything from book 3, besides Bill and Sookie’s relationship, was glossed over and put on hold for this installment, which genuinely feels like a romantic waterbreak in the Sookie mystery game.
On the characters:
Ana: I am now 100% sure that Sookie is NOT a mere human being who happens to have telepathic powers. The moment that it became clear as water to me? The moment where Claudine, the fairy makes an appearance and not only refers to Sookie as “my girl” but also becomes the centre of sexual attention for every single vampire and were in the room. I haven’t watched all those Buffy, X-Files, Lost and Wile E. Coyote’s episodes for nothing: I recognise an anvil when I see one and Claudine can not be a random character. So, therefore I have a Theory. Hear me out: I am willing to bet that Sookie is fey or fairy, or has some amount of their blood. That would explain 1) her powers; 2) how she is so attractive to supe beings (not that she couldn’t be attractive on her own, being just a human, but really there is only so much your boobs can do for you) 3) how Eric and Bill seem to have some sort of agreement about her – In my theory, she is Important with capital I. I have yet to ascertain why exactly. In any case, I love Sookie and I am willing to go wherever Charlaine Harris takes her.
Sookie goes through so much in this book – once again she is hurt, but this time around, the hurting is more psychological and emotional rather than physical and it comes from fear, from loss and from extreme measures to save her life.
As for the other characters: oh lordy, deliver me to Eric Northman please .I didn’t think I could love the man more but I was wrong. So, so wrong. Even though the Eric that we saw here is probably only but a shadow of the true Eric, it was enough to warm my heart.
Sookie’s brother Jason is starting to grow on me and I truly want to see what is going to happen to him.
Thea: I am loving Ana’s theory! I have to concur–there must be something more to Sookie, even if she does have the most beautiful breasts anyone has ever seen. The introduction of the fey is an interesting development…especially so far as Sookie is concerned. *Side note: Ana, dude, if this is true, then Sookie’s brother’s sexual prowess is also no coincidence–the attraction factor could all lead back to what Claudine said in passing…*
With regards to Sookie’s character, the one shining beacon of hope I did have throughout the mush of the storyline between her and Eric, was Sookie’s continued level-headedness. Even in the scene where Eric is promising Sookie the world on a string, Sookie knows that this isn’t the ‘real’ Eric, and that he’s acting as a viking overlord (product of his own ancient time) rather than a local (modern) vampire boss. Despite all the male attention, Sookie knows what’s what and frequently slaps herself back to reality…which is a very admirable trait.
Eric the loving viking was kinda cheesey for me…I miss the old Eric. You know, the smooth talking smarmy vampire boss with hidden agendas. I can’t wait to get more of him in the future–although it was cool to see Eric stripped down without all his usual bs, it just wasn’t…him. Although I should note, I was very pleased with how everything wrapped up at the end. There’s hope yet!
So far as the new characters introduced here, I really enjoyed reading more about the local werewolf pack, and the key members’ interactions with Sookie. The re-emergence of that psychotic shifter Debbie was wonderful in how awful the character was. I hope to see more of the weres and shifters in the future…(on a side note, whatever happened to Luna from Living Dead in Dallas?). I also wish that the witches themselves were more fully developed (we only get a cursory introduction to them before the shiz hits the fan)…but then again, it all makes sense in Sookie’s first person narrative.
Final Observations, Recommendations and Rating:
Ana: Overall, my favorite so far. It had good twists and two interesting mysteries that may yet be further developed with the repercussions to what happened to Jason *side note to Thea: DUDE, you are so right, Jason could be fey too!* and the introduction of new players: witches and fairies. All of that well balanced with the romance between Sookie and Eric. This series is so very good. Time and money well spent.
Thea: Of the Sookie books so far, Dead to the World is ok, but not my favorite. I enjoyed the ongoing mystery, but was disappointed with the lack of continuity, plot-wise, and with the abrupt lovey-doveyness here. *ducks glares from Eric fans ’round the blogosphere* Still, I loved the way things were wrapped up here, and overall found this a solid read and I look forward to more Sookie in the very near future!
Notable quotes/ parts:
Ana: : I could say that it was the cool battle against the witches but I would be lying. My shipper heart was giddy with happiness at all the Eric-Sookie goodness in this book. How he was so sweet and protective of her and how she was of him. I loved how they had almost-love words exchanged and how he practically asked her to marry him. Awwwwww. They were actually a happy, suitable couple for a time there. And then he got his memory back and forgot everything that happened between them and I was devastated for a while even though I thought that plot twist was actually quite cool. And to be honest, I did love Sweet Eric but I prefer the Real, Cool and Maybe Evil Eric. I wonder if he will ever remember – that will definitely be something to look forward to.
Thea: The ending battle between the were witches, weres and vampires is made of awesome. Very cool, brutal scene, worth the price of admission, so to speak. Hmm as for a quote, I like it when Sookie gets a bit testy. Here’s an opinion on the terrible Debbie:
I wondered if I could get some witch to cast a truth spell on Debbie Pelt, whom I despised becuse she had been cruel to Alcide, insulted me grievously, burned a hole in my favorite wrap and–oh–tried to kill me by proxy. Also, she had stupid hair.
Is there anything more fun to make fun of on a girl you hate than stupid hair?
Ana: 8 Excellent. My favorite so far.
Thea: 6 Good Not my favorite, but still worth reading and carrying on with the series!
Reading Next: Shades of Dark by Linnea Sinclair