Sunday, July 13, 2008

Review: "From Dead to Worse," Charlaine Harris

There’s an air of finality in “From Dead to Worse” ($24.95, Ace), the latest volume of Charlaine Harris’ tales of telepath Sookie Stackhouse.

As the book starts, Sookie is trying to get her life back to normal after she was caught in the middle of an anti-vampire terrorist attack in the last volume. She’s returned to her waitressing job in Bon Temps, just up the road from Monroe, but the peaceful life, as usual, evades her. Soon after the book opens, a war between erupts between rival factions of the Shreveport werewolf packs, and on top of that, a crew of vampires from Las Vegas is in town eyeing a takeover with Louisiana queen Sophie Anne-Leclerq weakened by Hurricane Katrina and injured in the terrorist attack.

Sookie’s personal life continues to be tumultuos as her weretiger boyfriend Quinn has gone missing, her witch roommate has problems with a rich father and a former mentor who has found her and she gets caught up in her brother’s marital problems.

While it may sound like the plot of a really bad soap opera, Harris always manages to handle things deftly to keep the reader engaged and keep the story from devolving into silliness, no matter how many supernatural characters show up or how many unlikely events break out.

For folks like me, who have lived in this area for most of my life, it’s a bit hard to imagine having vampires and werewolves lurking around every corner, but Harris has a way of making the reader buy it hook, line and sinker.

This book has the feeling of a wrap-up with most of the ongoing storylines from the previous books seemingly tied up at the end. A sense of normalcy is returned to Sookie’s life. The good news for fans is that there are a few new problems and there’s an intriguing twist at the end of the book that seems to promise more stories to come. At the very least, fans can check in with Sookie again this fall when HBO launches the series “True Blood,” based on the books.

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