Review of Dead in the Family

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“In my darkest moments — and this was one of them — I wondered if my life was worth the price that had been paid for it.”

[This review contains spoilers!]

Synopsis

Sookie is still recovering from what the fairies did to her, and even regular treatments with Eric’s blood isn’t enough to counteract her depression. Amelia moves out of Sookie’s house and returns to New Orleans, and cousin Claude the fairy, lonely after the death of his sister Claudine, moves in. Sookie reconnects with her brother Jason. Someone buries a corpse on Sookie’s land and calls in an anonymous tip in order to frame her for murder, and after foiling the plot, Sookie once again helps Alcide’s pack work out their problems.

Vampire family issues come to the fore. Bill needs the blood of his “sibling” in order to recover from his injuries in the fae war, and Eric’s maker Ocella and Ocella’s new “child” Alexei Romanov, show up and wreak havoc. Eric and Pam are endangered by the King of Nevada’s agent, Victor Madden, who was responsible for keeping Eric from rescuing Sookie in “Dead and Gone.”

Review

Definitely an aftermath novel. Sookie wasn’t just going to bounce back from what happened to her in “Dead and Gone,” and she is noticeably different — distant, colder, depressed and angry, and actually considering killing Victor Madden, who wants to take over Louisiana and is a clear and present danger to Eric. Sookie and Eric plotting about how to assassinate Victor Madden is discussed, but turns out to be (one assumes) set-up for the next book.

It’s interesting that Sookie’s experiences have changed her so radically, but I do understand it. Sookie even starts to consider the possibility of becoming a vampire herself, understandable since she came so close to death. Sookie has become curious about how much of her feelings for Eric come from their blood bond, and talks with Amelia about the possibility of using witchcraft to get rid of it. Again, one assumes, set-up for future developments.

Reconnecting with family is a big theme. Sookie and Jason make up and his newfound maturity and concern for Sookie is refreshing. (It’s about freaking time.) Sookie spends some quality time with Hadley’s little son Hunter, and tries to teach him what every young telepath should know. It’s unspoken that Sookie is not heading toward the path of parenthood herself; Hunter may be it for her. Sookie also finally connects with her “cousin” Claude, and things are resolved in a rather silly way with her great-uncle half-fairy Dermot, who was under a spell and never a villain, after all.

Now that Eric and Sookie are something of a solid couple, the conflict is coming from the outside. I wasn’t sure what to think about Eric’s “family” trouble. I didn’t like seeing Eric so helpless, and it may have lessened the impact of his confidences in the previous book. I have to give Harris points for making Ocella’s latest “child” Alexei Romanov of the murdered Russian royal family, although he is mostly weird and creepy, when I think Harris was going for sad and tragic. And I just hated Ocella. He was cold, emotionless and revolting, and in the end, surprisingly easy to defeat.

The werewolf portion of the story is somewhat repetitive, because Alcide uses Sookie again, which is what he tends to do. The shaman drug stuff was sort of fun, though, and apparently, Sookie does have the ability to be a terrific werewolf shaman. I also really enjoyed the werewolf vampire corpse-digging party. For some reason, it rather tickled me.

All in all, a fun read (I find everything Harris writes to be a fun read) but not quite up to the previous three installments, which were the best of the series. So far.

Bits and pieces:

— The action takes place in March, a month or so after the previous book. Sookie is still 27.

— Even though he is no longer in the human world, Niall has friends in high places and manages to get the FBI to leave Sookie alone.

— Jason is dating Michele Schubert, who is upfront, outspoken and very good for him, and is once again best friends with Hoyt, who is engaged to Holly.

— Calvin Norris and Tanya Grissom get married. There’s very little mention of Hotshot.

— Bill is saved by his “sibling” Judith, whom Lorena turned because Judith resembled Bill’s human wife. Judith apparently loves Bill, and Sookie realizes she is jealous. Before elderly Caroline Bellefleur passes away, the Bellefleurs finally learn about their familial connection to Bill.

— Eric lectures Sookie on vampire political structure in the United States (“as my wife, you should know this”). It’s divided into four sections much like time zones.

— The government wants to regulate and register shifters.

— We finally get to see Eric’s house. Fun.

— Pam and Sookie are ambushed by two of Victor’s vamps. Sookie holds her own and kills one of them.

— Sam is dating the fierce and violent Jannalynn, a were enforcer in Alcide’s pack. This isn’t the first time Sam has had a physical relationship with a dangerous supernatural female.

— Shifters never shift into wolves. Weres find it offensive.

— There is a new bartender at Merlotte’s — Kennedy Keyes, a former beauty contestant and ex-con. There is also a new bouncer, Danny Prideaux, who is crazy about Kennedy.

— Claudine left Sookie a huge chunk of money.

— There’s a fun tribute to the television series when everyone in Merlotte’s sings Jace Everett’s “Bad Things.”

In closing…

My review of book eleven, Dead Reckoning, will be posted in a week or two, definitely before book twelve is released on May 1.

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.)

I’m a hopeless sci-fi geek and huge fan of shows like True Blood, Lost, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I write episode reviews and articles about many of the shows that I love. All of my reviews are at DouxReviews.com