Review of From Dead to Worse
[This review contains spoilers.]
“I finished my coffee and tried to plan out my day, but I kept running up against a mental roadblock. It was hard to make plans when you suspected someone might try to kill you.”
Sookie again gets caught between supernatural factions — this time, a werewolf war involving Alcide Herveaux, and a vampire hostile takeover by the King of Nevada that results in the deaths of many Louisiana vampires, including the Queen. Eric is the only surviving sheriff.
On the family front, Jason manipulates Sookie in an unforgivable fashion in order to end his marriage to Crystal, causing a serious rift between brother and sister. But Sookie discovers that she has more family than she thought when her great-grandfather (and full-blooded fairy) Niall Brigant comes into her life, Sookie learns that Claudine and Claude are her cousins, and that Hadley was once married and had a son named Hunter, who is now four and a telepath like Sookie. And the house in Bon Temps gets more crowded when Amelia and Sookie acquire a third roommate, Octavia Fant, a Katrina refugee and powerful witch who helps Sookie deflect yet another incursion by the infuriating Pelt family.
On the romance front, Sookie reluctantly breaks up with Quinn when she discovers that he has serious family issues, and begins to reconnect with Eric, who now remembers what happened when he had amnesia.
It wouldn’t be a Sookie Stackhouse novel if Sookie weren’t in danger because of her connection to supes. This time, it starts with the murder of several female weres allied with Alcide, including Alcide’s honey, Maria-Star Cooper. I really, really liked the plot point that the weres were ready to declare an all-out war but Sookie stopped it when she had the brilliant idea of calling Patrick Furnan on the phone and asking him outright if he was behind the murders (which he wasn’t; it was an incursion by a third were faction). Sookie’s involvement with the weres always seems to go in one direction: she helps them, and they endanger her.
Not that the vampire situation is any better. When vamps from Las Vegas carry out a hostile takeover of vampire Louisiana, the Queen and all of her remaining sheriffs are killed — with the exception of Eric, who must choose to fight and die, or accept the leadership of the King of Nevada, Felipe De Castro. Eric pragmatically chooses surrender over his own death and the deaths of his followers and friends. Again, Sookie is invaluable to the vamps, and being with them endangers her life. Although I tend to wonder if Eric might have chosen to fight if Sookie hadn’t been there.
Eric now remembers what happened in book four when he had amnesia, and things start to heat up between Sookie and Eric, even though she is determined to be faithful to the absent and unaccounted for Quinn. Eric begins to share personal stuff about his life and his true feelings with Sookie. And then Sookie breaks up with Quinn when she learns that he has overwhelming family problems — i.e., a crazy mother and a helpless and needy half sister, the reasons that he was a pit fighter (“Think Gladiator with wereanimals.”) Maybe her returning attraction to Eric pushed her into breaking up with Quinn. Either way, it works for me.
Crystal and Jason are having marital difficulties, some of which are caused by Tanya Grissom, who is a buddy of Sandra Pelt’s and has been ordered to make Sookie’s life miserable. Jason deliberately sets up things so that Sookie and Calvin will catch Crystal being unfaithful. Calvin must take Crystal’s punishment because she is pregnant, and he is sentenced to two broken fingers. Jason asks that Sookie stand in for him, so she must carry out the sentence. Understandably, Sookie hates Jason for making her do this, and she decides that she doesn’t want anything more to do with her brother. Frankly, Jason has never been worth the time and effort that Sookie has put into him, but we can’t choose our siblings.
It’s interesting, and rather cool, that as soon as Sookie drops her brother, she discovers a whole lot of other relatives. Eric takes Sookie to meet Niall, her great grandfather the fairy. Niall is beautiful but alien; he keeps asking Sookie what he can do for her, but what can a fairy who doesn’t live in Sookie’s world do for her? Also, delightfully, Claudine and Claude are Niall’s grandchildren, making them Sookie’s distant cousins. Sookie also learns that Hadley had a son, Hunter, who is four. When she meets him, she discovers that he is a telepath, like she is.
Amelia’s witch mentor, Octavia Fant, enters the scene and since she’s a Katrina refugee, she winds up moving into Sookie’s house, too. Although Sookie is feeling a bit crowded, Octavia is quite helpful; Amelia and Octavia do an ectoplasmic reconstruction of Maria-Star’s murder, and cast a spell on Tanya Grissom to keep her from making trouble on Sandra Pelt’s behalf. And finally, Octavia turns Bob the cat back into a human again.
All in all, this is a terrific installment in the series, and a lot of fun to read. I find Niall rather freaky, but I love that Claudine is Sookie’s cousin. And of course, the refocus on vampires and especially on Eric makes me happy. Forget the freaking weres.
Bits and pieces:
— The action takes place in October, shortly after the previous book. Sookie is now 27.
— The first part of the book takes place at the double Bellefleur wedding (Andy marries Halleigh, and Portia marries accountant Glen Vick).
— Very little has been said about Sookie and Jason’s parents at this point, but after meeting Niall, Sookie remembers that her own mother was pathologically fixated on her father and realizes it was because of her father’s fairy blood. It’s revealed that Jason is very attractive to women for the same reason.
— Sookie manages to save King Felipe de Castro’s life, as well as Eric’s and Sam’s.
— Amelia’s rich and powerful father, Copley Carmichael, drops by and makes everyone uncomfortable. And even he wants something from Sookie: an introduction to the new power vamps from Vegas.
— Bill breaks up with Selah Pumphrey. He tells Sookie he would give anything to be with her again, and swears to kill or die only for Sookie.
— Bubba is discussed, and the word “Elvis” is actually mentioned, I think for the first time.
— We learn that Sam has a pretty much normal family, nothing like the characters in the television series. His mother is a shifter who has remarried after Sam’s father died.
— Tray Dawson, independent werewolf and motorcycle shop owner, has become a good friend of Sookie’s and wants to date Amelia.
— During the Louisiana/Nevada vampire confrontation, Sookie’s front door is damaged and her cell phone destroyed. Eric sends her replacements for both the next day. I love that he’s so thoughtful. He’s done this for Sookie several times now.
My next book review will be posted in about two weeks.
Important notice! After eleven books and four seasons of the series, I have no idea what kind of spoiler limitations to put on the comments section under these circumstances — so I’m not going to put any. It’s a spoiler free for all! If you’re new to the books and haven’t seen all of the television series True Blood, reading the comments may, and probably will, spoil you. Read on at your own risk!
(Billie Doux and her contributing writers review science fiction, fantasy and cult television shows at BillieDoux.com.)