Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre: Paranormal mystery, Urban Fantasy
Stand Alone / series: Book 5 of Southern Vampires Mysteries, or Sookie Stackhouse books.
Summary: (from barnes&noble.com)
When Sookie’s brother Jason’s eyes start to change, she knows he’s about to turn into a were-panther for the first time. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population-and Jason’s new panther brethren suspect he may be the shooter. Now, Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who’s behind the attacks, unless the killer decides to find her first.
Ana: I loved the previous book in the series – Dead to the World, a.k.a The Great Book of Eric and Sookie as I like to call it – and was looking forward to read this one. I wanted to know how Sookie and Eric’s relationship would carry on after he forgot all about their days together and how would Jason deal with his new were status. I thought this book fell short. The first few chapters I thought were bland, boring even, and the best moments of the entire book came when Eric showed up. Although, that probably says more about myself than about the quality of the book itself.
Thea: Unlike Ana, I found book 4 kind of a bore, kind of fan-pandering, and well…classic soap opera. Not my digs at all, even if it was written with the traditional Sookie humor and nice mystery plot. So, I was a little wary about getting into this next book. And, unlike Ana again, I found myself pleasantly surprised by this novel! This felt like a return to the more mystery intense side of the Sookie world–which is why I loved these books in the first place. This was a fun, if slightly predictable, murder mystery type novel with some great character developments that will have interesting consequences in later books.
On the Plot:
It is only a few weeks since the events in the end of Dead to the World and small town waitress Sookie Stackhouse is carrying on with her life the best way she can. Her attempt at staying away from the paranormal world and out of trouble is curtailed by the fact that her brother Jason is now a were-panther.
When shifters start being targeted by a mysterious shooter and Jason becomes a suspect, Sookie is dragged back into investigating using her mind-reading abilities and ends up having to deal once more, with both Vampire and Werewolf politics.
Everyone seems to want a piece of Sookie, literally and in more ways than once can count and things get really complicated when her life is threatened – twice.
Ana: I will probably sound quite sour, but really, how many times can Sookie get hurt and how many men can be attracted to her? I feel like I should start a chart for every book from now on. Sookie gets shot (tick), Sookie bleeds (tick) , Someone ( a male) sucks Sookie’s blood and finds it unbelievably good (tick), A male wants to get into Sookie’s pants (tick, tick, tick, tick, tick). I am getting increasingly sick and tired of it all – to read Sookie’s thoughts about the men in her life is like going on a ride with heaps of twists and turns as she wants them all (ok, that is not particularly difficult to believe since all of them are hotties) but the fact that all of them want her is harder to absorb. Again, I need to bring up again my Great Theory that she has to have Fairy’s blood.
Not all is bad though – I liked how she stood up by herself in many occasions when it was clear that even if all the men wanted her, they also had hidden agendas and she didn’t put up with it – especially with Alcide who came out as less than heroic, in my opinion.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with the mystery of who was shooting the shifters since it was pretty easy to guess who that was but it was very surprising to find out who set her house on fire and why.
This wasn’t the most exciting of the books so far but it is still a nice, comforting read. Easy to get through but quite honestly, just as easy to forget. Except for those parts where Eric Northman shows up, that is.
Thea: Ana, you and your romantic Eric bias :p Ok, I have to agree with a lot of Ana’s sentiments. It is reaching ridiculous levels with EVERYONE and their mom wanting Sookie, to the point where she makes out with multiple people in a book, gets an offer to move in with multiple people, and heck even in the last 30 pgs or so she meets yet ANOTHER love interest. I mean, I get that Sookie’s a hot blonde with a nice rack–but two or three admirers is quite enough. We’re heading into double digits soon. That said, it’s almost forgivable because Sookie is such a grounded, real character. Even though Sookie getting the shit beat out of her or getting shot is getting old as well.
So far as the mystery portion of this plot goes, by the end at least the mystery identity of the sniper was pretty predictable–but the three other major subplots kept me on my toes and uncertain as to where the story would head next. The Weres in disarray over their dead packmaster and the ensuing political, brutal struggle for succession–involving Alcide’s father and a new, dangerous Were–was a captivating storyline, and I cannot wait to see how the outcome of the three trials and the new packmaster will affect the next books. The dynamics between Sookie and the local pack of shifters (panthers and the like) also undergoes a big change here, especially since her brother is now one of the two-natured. Pack leader Calvin’s attentions towards Sookie, while nice and flattering, I think will have serious consequences in future books.
Also, the involvement of Sookie’s friend Tara and her serious vampire problems was a valuable, touching plotline–Sookie has so few good friends, it’s heartbreaking to see how this story develops. Again, by the end of the book, Tara is forced to take a good hard look at herself and I am anxious to see how this plays out in the future. Finally, the storyline involving Charles–the pirate vampire bartender–and the other familiar vampires (Eric, Bill, Pam, etc) was solid, if again predictable. I do appreciate, however, that Ms. Harris draws on her past Sookie novels and continues with old storylines that were almost forgotten in my mind. Nicely done!
Oh, and it was also cool to see more of Claudine and Claude. Ana’s theory at work…
On the Characters:
Ana: Once again, it is the characters that make the book for me.
Our Sookie is the same adorable self and I remain her fan. She showed a lot of guts and some backbone in this one – more than usual, I thought. And I think she has finally realised that there is no way out – she is part of this paranormal world now.
I love that she is level-headed and can see through people, not because she can read their minds –but because she is truly empathic and attuned to others. I love her relationship with very single character in the book – how she tries to help Jason and Tara or her friendship with Sam and Alcide.
This is one of the reasons why I love her so much – she is a nice person and can see several sides of a situation. Like for example, she could understand why Alcide didn’t want to be near her at the end of the book even though that hurt her. The only one she seems to be unable to see through his true nature is Unworthy Bill; she constantly makes up excuses for his behaviour. Vile Bill should bite the dust. Just saying. The fact that he remains around and still has feelings for Sookie (which, lord save me, are reciprocated) leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
At the end of the novel we are introduced to a new character, Quinn that seems to a new beau to be added to her legion of admirers. I have to say I am ….intrigued by his character. He seems to be a powerful shifter (being a were-tiger and all) and I would like to read more about him – is he a loner? Does he belong to a pack? Do were-tigers trump were-panthers? Above all I would like to know – do shifters (and vampires) know that they can use cloths to clean blood? Or is it modus operandi to always use their tongues to lick wounds and the such? It is kinda gross, albeit strangely hot. (for those who don’t know what the hell I am talking about – Sookie gets hurt and Quinn – whom she had JUST met, licks her leg to clean the wound).
Now, saving the best for last. Eric Northman makes quite a few appearances. He is dying to know what exactly happened between him and Sookie when he had amnesia. It is a delight to see his reaction when Sookie finally tells him – he is taken aback by his feelings for her and as a vampire, I am pretty sure he would prefer not to have them. But I guess it’s too late now. Sookie, I beg of you: Pick Eric. Choose Eric. Love Eric!
Thea: It’s no secret that I heart Sookie Stackhouse. She is just so darn…Sookie. She’s practical, she doesn’t put on airs, she is just refreshingly herself, and listening to her first person narration is enough to keep me coming back for more from this series, even if the plotlines were complete crap (which they aren’t, thank goodness). I agree with Ana that she does seem to be growing stronger in this book, showing some real toughness and standing up for herself–but she’s still very vulnerable, especially so far as her relationship with Bill is concerned. It adds a dimension, a genuineness to her character that I must applaud Ms. Harris for. As Bill Compton–slime ball or not–was Sookie’s first of everything, her confused feelings, her almost unconscious urge to forgive and make excuse him for everything he has done, it all makes sense.
While Sookie is very nicely developed, as usual, the secondary characters are also nicely written. For me, the best, most realistic other character in this book is Alcide Herveaux. I like that Alcide isn’t written as a “hero”and is written as a conflicted, flawed and very human character, for all that he is a Were. Sookie has to continue refuting his advances, despite the fact she is very attracted to him, because of his torch for psycho-hose-beast Debbie Pelt, despite everything she had done to him and to Sookie. In a sense, Sookie and Alcide are more alike than they care to acknowledge, both still in part in love with the wrong people. By the end of this novel, Alcide’s blame and anger directed at Sookie is heartbreaking–and, again, I cannot wait to see how this develops in subsequent books.
The other usual suspects, Sam, Bill, Eric, Tara, and even Bubba are given a good amount of screen time in Dead as a Doornail, and it’s nice to reconnect. The new additions to the regular cast, of Claudine and Claude, is veeeeerrry interesting. The impish Claudine is fun to read, and the twins’s interest in Sookie speaks to Ana’s Theory–with which I wholeheartedly agree. Claudine really *is* Sookie’s fairy godmother. She’s gotta be.
Final Observations, Recommendations and Rating:
Ana: Sookie is such a great character and I love reading about life in her small town and about the mysteries she gets involved with. Even though I didn’t think this was the best of the lot so far, still it was very enjoyable, even if the first chapters were a bit on the boring side
Thea: I found Dead as a Doornail to be a good, quick read–more of the same Sookie goodness. And I have to admit, I was very pleased that this was a much different book than its predecessor. Back to the mysteries and multiple plotlines please!
Notable quotes/ parts:
Ana: This is why I love Sookie: she is simple and clever.
In the world I lived in, the world of human people, there were ties and debts and consequences and good deeds. That was what bound people to society; maybe that was what constituted society. And I tried to live in my little niche in it the best way I could. Joining in the secret clans of the two-natured and the undead made my life in human society much more difficult and complicated. And Interesting. and sometimes…fun.
Thea: I liked this little Sookie insight:
Bill brought a date into Merlotte’s that night. I assumed this was payback for my kissing Sam, or maybe I was just being proud. This possible payback was in the form of a woman from Clarice. I’d seen her in the bar before every once in a while. She was a slim brunette with shoulder-length hair, and Danielle could hardly wait to tell me she was Selah Pumphrey, a real estate saleswoman who’d gotten the million-dollar sales award the year before.
I hated her instantly, utterly, and passionately.
So I smiled as brightly as a thousand-watt bulb and brought them Bill’s warm TrueBlood and her cold screwdriver quick as a wink. I didn’t spit in the screwdriver, either. That was beneath me, I told myself. Also, I didn’t have enough privacy.
No who hasn’t felt that way about an ex–even an ex you don’t care a whit for anymore–and his/her new date?
Ana: 6, Good. Not the best, but I love Sookie enough to carry on reading!
Thea: 7 Very Good – I was wavering between a 6 and a 7, but gave in and put up the higher grade because I love Sookie that much.
Reading Next: Driven by Eve Kenin