Review: Dead in the Family, by Charlaine Harris

Dead in the Family
Charlaine Harris
May 2010
Ace Books
ISBN: 978-0-441-01864-2
311 pages

I’m going to forgo reviewing each of the ten novels in the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Even though I enjoyed the series as a whole, and plowed through them pretty quickly, I don’t see the appeal in reviewing each here. So, here I am with a review of the latest addition to the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead in the Family. It is one that I enjoyed, even though I also have mixed feelings about it.

I’m glad I could be clear for you on how I liked the book.

Seeing as this is the tenth book in the series, there will necessarily be some spoilers for the previous books, though I’ll try not to go into too much detail.

After the terrible events of Dead and Gone, the naive and trusting Sookie of the first few books, who was, book by book, becoming less trusting, is now irrevocably gone. (I really, really wanted to write “is now dead and gone,” but thought that might just be silly.) Given what happened to her at the hands of Neave and Lochlan, this fundamental change in Sookie’s outlook is not surprising. With each crisis she’s lived through, each death of those surrounding her, she has slowly moved from the young woman who had hard-and-fast rules about right and wrong to someone who sees the world in shades of gray–and who thinks less like a small-town waitress and more like a supernatural creature. Neave and Lochlan simply sped up that process.

Sookie sees this change in herself, and is not sure she likes it; I like this about her. She has always been introspective and self-aware, and Harris has done a good job of keeping her from being melodramatic in her self-evaluations. I appreciate that.

So, Sookie is a changed woman. She isn’t so changed that she won’t help friends in need, though. She’s just changed enough to think, and consider, before she says “yes, I’ll help.” It doesn’t seem to completely keep her out of trouble, but what trouble she gets into is enough. Compared to From Dead to Worse and Dead and Gone, the events in Dead in the Family are almost anti-climatic. The scale of “oh, shit!” is much smaller here, much closer to what we saw in the first few stories. Good for Sookie, who is recovering from the hell she went through in the previous two, but almost boring for the reader.

It seems obvious that this is a set-up novel. There are a number of threads that were introduced in Dead and Gone that carry over here, and get some development, but no resolution. The power change in vampiric control over Louisiana has some minor ripples in here, and I expect that will ratchet up in the future. Similarly, the larger implications of the Weres and shifters making themselves known to the world are only beginning to be felt. More to come of that, as well.

Eric’s past comes to northern Louisiana here, and that thread, at least, is both introduced and resolved here. Thank goodness for at least some resolution. If that plot had carried forward, too, I would’ve been super grumpy.

There were some mysterious happenings, but they were minor in comparison to the larger political intrigues and dramas going on. Those, two, were thankfully resolved.

Overall, I enjoyed this as much as I’ve enjoyed the other novels, and hope that the sense of this being a set-up novel is true, and that the next story will pick up pace a bit.

I want to say thank you to my local library system for making this available, so I didn’t have to wait for it to come out in paperback. 🙂

Visit the author’s Web site.


About Jessica

Dork extraordinaire, that's me! An unhealthy knowledge of Star Trek, a love of books, a fondness for purring cats.
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3 Responses to Review: Dead in the Family, by Charlaine Harris

  1. Jen D. says:

    Nice review Jessica. I also got my copy from the library. =)

    I liked this installment more than the last two in the series. The other ones (aside from the whole Neave and Lochlan thing) just seemed like fillers. I think it may be time to start wrapping this series up.

    • Jessica says:

      I remember reading somewhere that it was a ten-book contract, and got the impression (man I wish I could remember where I read this) that Harris doesn’t intend on having it be a hugely long series. So perhaps you are right – the series may be wrapping up. I suppose, though, that is dependent on how much story she has left to tell of Sookie.

      Personally, I’d love to see more of some of the secondary characters. She has a such a richly populated world, character-wise, that I’d be happy with stories focusing on someone not Sookie.

  2. Jon says:

    I just finished reading this one last week, and have a review coming up on my site. I think there’s still plenty of stories left to tell in Sookie’s world – definitely some things to come with Eric’s rival, political issues for the weres, and so forth.

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