Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review: "Dead in the Family" by Charlaine Harris

I guess everyone needs a break now and then, and certainly Charlaine Harris’ telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse has hit a lull in the series’ latest entry “Dead in the Family” ($25.95, Ace).
It’s not that there’s not plenty of action in the book. Quite a bit happens. In fact, the story is kind of like a supernatural family reunion as more fairy members of Sookie’s family show up, members of the vampire Eric’s family arrive to cause trouble, some secret’s about Bill Compton’s family are revealed and even Merlotte’s owner Sam is having troubles with his family because of the weres and shifters going public.

Among all that, there are also larger problems in the world of the books. Most notably, some are pushing for registration of the two-natured, just as they have the vampires who went public. Eric is still having troubles with his new boss in the vampire world, Victor Madden, and there’s upheaval in the Shreveport pack of weres.

Despite all that, “Dead in the Family” seems to plod just a little. There are flashes of action here and there, but it just doesn’t quite have the same spark that some of the previous volumes had. It’s more like a breather in between the explosive action that ended the previous volume and things that are on the horizon.

It also seems to me that there’s a little more of HBO’s “True Blood,” based on the books, seeping into Harris’ work in this volume. Certainly for those of us who both read the books and watch the series, the differing storylines can get a bit confusing. For example, I was almost sure that Bill had told Sookie in a previous volume how he was turned, but now I’m thinking that might have been in “True Blood,” and either way, the story that I’m remembering differs from the one told in this book.

At the end of the day, “Dead in the Family” is still an enjoyable read and it keeps me interested in the continuing story of Sookie and all of the strangeness that surrounds her. But it doesn’t leave me with that same sense of excitement that some of the earlier tales did. Hopefully things will get back on track with the next volume.

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