Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

[This review contains many, many spoilers.]

"I figured God had made me with the disability of telepathy, and he could cut me a little slack on the sex thing."

Synopsis

Eric is cursed by witches with an inconvenient case of amnesia, and Sookie hides him in her house while the Fangtasia vamps search for the coven that did it. Amnesia has changed Eric's personality rather drastically, and he and Sookie get romantically involved and have a whole lot of sex.

Jason, who has been dating werepanther Crystal Norris from the tiny hamlet of Hotshot, disappears without a trace. Sookie thinks it is related to the witches, but with the help of Calvin Norris, the "packmaster" of Hotshot, she eventually discovers that Jason was held and repeatedly bitten by a romantic rival, werepanther Felton Norris, in hopes that it would turn Jason into a hybrid were.

Bill reveals to Alcide and the rest of his pack the extent of Debbie Pelt's evil deeds in the previous book (that she participated in Bill's torture and that she locked Sookie in the car trunk with Bill, hoping he would kill her). Alcide abjures Debbie, which is sort of like werewolf divorce. Debbie later shows up in Sookie's kitchen with a shotgun, Eric takes the bullet meant for Sookie, and Sookie kills Debbie.

The book culminates in a "witch war," with an alliance of the vampires, werewolves and wiccans of Bon Temps vanquishing the evil coven. Eric gets his memory back, but doesn't remember what happened while he was "out", including his love affair with Sookie or what happened to Debbie Pelt.

Review

Sookie's new year's resolution is to not get beat up any more, and staying away from supes appears to be a good first step. But she inadvertently gets even more deeply involved in the supernatural side of Bon Temps when Eric shows up by the side of the road with no memory.

Eric, the normal Eric, is tall, handsome, sexy, funny, charming, obsessed with Sookie... and cold, arrogant, and overbearing. Sookie would never get involved with the real Eric. But amnesiac Eric is tall, handsome, sexy, funny, charming, obsessed with Sookie... and sweet, thoughtful, and accessible. Is this the person Eric was when he was a human, centuries ago? (Doesn't seem Viking-like to me, but I loved it.)

I know I've said it before, but I find Eric to be a much stronger male lead than Bill or Alcide, and a much more intriguing love interest for Sookie. This is one of the best books in the series, and where is Bill? He spends most of the book in Peru.

Our supernatural 'verse expands to include witches and fairies. Claudine the fairy is very entertaining; the metaphor of fairy blood as chocolate for vampires is fun. There is more werewolf lore, too. Well, actually, more of a werewolf lodge. I will again say that werewolves do nothing for me. But the shape shifters in this series aren't just werewolves, and the strange werepanthers of the tiny hamlet of Hotshot are interesting as well as weirdly compelling. And Alcide would be pretty much perfect for Sookie if he weren't hung up on the (now late) Debbie Pelt.

The first time I read this book, I so wanted Sookie to fall for Eric, for his amnesia to bring down the barriers between them, but I didn't think it would happen. And I was delighted that it did. For several reasons, mostly Eric-related, this one is a favorite.

Bits and pieces:

-- The action in this installment begins in the same month as Club Dead.

-- Bill reveals to Sookie that he couldn't resist Lorena because she was his maker.

-- Merlottes' waitresses Holly and Danielle are wiccans.

-- Tara is still dating vampire Franklin Mott.

-- We are introduced to Colonel Flood, Alcide's packmaster.

-- Sookie considers polite, principled Calvin Norris a marital possibility because supes are really her only romantic option. But his motivation confuses me. He says that Hotshot needs new genes, but I thought pure-bred shifters were important?

-- After taking werewolf Maria-Star Cooper to the hospital, Sookie falls asleep behind the wheel of her car. Claudine appears in Sookie's car and wakes her, and reveals that she's a fairy (pointed ears).

-- We learn that Bubba is brain damaged and therefore doesn't need an invitation to get into a human's home. That felt a lot like a retro fix of a major boo-boo in Club Dead.

-- Sookie came out of this one with beautiful memories, $50,000, and a gorgeous cranberry red winter coat. All three from Eric.

Television series notes

Much of what happened in the book made it to the screen this time. I think the book fans would have had a cow and revolted en masse if the Sookie/Eric love affair had been changed. Although the ending was changed a bit, since series Eric did remember what happened, and his role in Debbie's death was eliminated. I rather liked that Eric remembered it all.

The Hotshot story is quite different. In the television series, Calvin Norris is a meth dealer and evil, to boot. And Jason is held in Hotshot for breeding purposes.

Quotes:

I don't usually include quotes, but I loved a few of them in this book so much that I wanted to share them.

-- "I turned in about midnight, leaving Eric absorbed in my tapes of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Though welcome, these were actually a gag gift from Tara.) Eric thought the show was a hoot, especially the way the vampires' foreheads bulged out when they got blood-lusty. From time to time, I could hear Eric laughing all the way back in my room."

-- "I had two whole days off, and at least one of them I got to spend alone in a house with a mentally ill vampire. Life just didn't get any better."

-- "I had two cups of coffee, put Eric's jeans in the washer, read a romance for awhile, and studied my brand new Word-of-the-Day calendar, a Christmas gift from Arlene. My first word for the new year was 'exsanguinate.' This was probably not a good omen."

-- "I'd rather be taking a complicated drink order from a table of drunken tree trimmers than be first in the line of battle."

In closing...

I loved this one. It's a complete series changer, and I think it deserves a solid four out of four stakes.

My next book review, Dead as a Doornail, will be posted in mid-January.

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!
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

7 comments:

Patryk said...

It's great to read these reviews to see what's different in the show. But we reached book 4 so the future reviews will contain potential spoilers for all who just watch the show.

Billie Doux said...

... future reviews will contain potential spoilers for all who just watch the show.

That's true, Patryk. I do plan to continue putting spoiler warnings at the top of the reviews. I also suspect that because the fifth book doesn't focus so much on the current cast of characters of True Blood, the series might not follow the book next season. Just a theory, though.

Either way, I plan to review all of the books before the twelfth one comes out in May, both for our site as well as True-Blood.net.

Anonymous said...

Great review. I remember being pleased with the Sookie/Eric stuff in this one too. I kinda liked what they did with Bill as a king in the Tv series. And it's safe to assume season 5 will deviate from the book. The question is just how much.
Anna

Juliette said...

I LOVE this book.

That is all.

CrazyCris said...

I was a bit miffed at the TV series killing off Claudine right at the beginning as I loved her character from the books! boo-hoo!!!

I'm pretty sure things will deviate quite a bit more in the TV series from the books from now on... there's just no way the showrunners would be willing to massively reduce the screen time of Bill or Jason or Tara or Sam (who already get a lot more screen-time than page-time!) I just hope Debbie's crazy sister shows up ;o)
They have to anyways since we no longer have a Queen of Louisiana and a King of Mississippi whose wedding was the centrepiece of book 6 I believe?

Shameless plug (sorry!), but did I mention before I wrote a post comparing this book to season 4 of True Blood? ;o)
http://crazycrishereandthere.blogspot.com/2011/09/page-vs-screen-true-blood-s4-vs-dead-to.html

Juliette said...

Looks like I left more coherent thoughts over at your blog Cris! I blame holiday fatigue :)

CrazyCris said...

lol! Juliette it's easier to have sage comments when not stuffed from Christmas feasting! (plus the TV season had just ended)

Was delighted to see you stopped by my place Billie! :o)