DEAD TO THE WORLD
(Sookie Stackhouse/TRUE BLOOD)
Ace Books / 310 pages/ 3 May 2005
This is what? Charlaine Harris’ fourth book and I have read none of them up ’til now. Why? Don’t waste time trying to figure it out; I’ve tried and come up with nothing. Fortunately, someone kicked some sense into me and I’m afraid I may well be hooked on Harris’ fiction for life. Besides, there’s no time to waste when I’ve got to backtrack and read the first three novels to complete my Sookie Stackhouse store of knowledge. The next one could arrive anytime now. (I hope! I hope!)
There’s plenty of material because there are so many things always ready to go wrong for Sookie. Her telepathy is no blessing, no matter what those who can only dream of the ability imagine. Certainly, it has helped her out a few times, but it brings her nothing but trouble and the kind of reputation that guarantees she will never be fully accepted, in any social circle. It makes for a lonely life and a lack of self-esteem that is completely undeserved. When you think about it, Sookie may well be the only thing keeping the vampires, weres, witches, shape-shifters, and the small town folks of her corner of Louisiana from all-out war.
This time, she finds herself minus one lover, missing a brother, harbouring an amnesiac vampire — all while trying to uncover precisely what a strange — make that “foreign” — coven of witches has invaded her hometown of Bon Temps. Good times are one thing she can be assured of, whatever the city limit signs suggest. To unravel the mystery and get things back into some semblance of normality, Sookie must become more familiar than she ever wanted to with all the players in this dark and deadly game. As always, she will be dragged into a situation where her very survival is very much in doubt. Considering how much each reader will see of themselves in Sookie, that’s a bit unsettling.
Many authors have tried the modern vampire, or undead, tale, with mixed results. Harris’ hits the tone squarely on the mark with a touch of black humour, a smear of gore, wisps of the paranormal, and unrelenting suspense. Her creation of a world where vampires and other strange creatures exist openly alongside humans should be unbelievable, but comes across as surprisingly credible. Maybe it is because she knows us mere mortals better than we know ourselves. Maybe it is her ability to take the most chilling power and lay it before readers as more than possible; in her hands, the most incredible seems quite likely. Now, considering her subject matter, there’s a scary thought.
It could be that we are ready to believe anything could be going on in the hidden corners of bayou country. Perhaps, we’ve never been completely convinced that vampires and such are merely the stuff of legends. Maybe we humans are working our way to accepting the myriad differences between us, attempting to live in peace, and seeing our diversity as the thing that makes us so entertaining, and maddening, at times.
Right. Keep dreaming. In the meantime, whatever you do, latch on tight onto Charlaine Harris’ work with both hands and your imagination. Settle down and laissez les rampant temps rouler.