Fiction: “Dead to the World” by Charlaine Harris

This is the fourth title in Charlaine Harris’s “Southern Vampire” series — or, as I (and I’m sure, a few others) like to call it, the True Blood series. As usual, I have read the book before watching the season to which it corresponds, for two reasons. One, because I always like to read the source material before seeing what type of atrocities occurred in the requisite adaptation. And two: my Netflix Queue is full up with Return of the Jedi, Firefly, and … Muppet Treasure Island?! Holy shit, I forgot that was in there!

Needless to say, I’m gonna be busy for a while.

So what happens in Book 4 of the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries? Well, it’s New Year’s Eve in Bon Temps, and Sookie’s resolution is to avoid situations in which she could potentially get beaten up. And may I say, I would love to see that scene on TV. I’m sure Lafayette and/or Arlene would have some sort of comment about it. Anyway, on her way home she runs into Eric Northman, her ex-boyfriend Bill’s boss. Only … Eric isn’t himself. For one, he’s running along the road completely naked in January. And two, once Sookie rescues him, she realizes that he doesn’t have any recollection of who he is or who she is or how he got to Bon Temps without clothes.

Turns out, there are some witches in Louisiana that want to take over some vampire business. It’s never really made clear why they want to invade the vampires’s turf, but … whatever. To be honest, I think it’s just a ruse to get a vulnerable Eric to have to live under Sookie’s roof for protection. And this vulnerable Eric can’t reconcile the very pretty barmaid who’s taking care of him with why she would be rejecting his advances. And, if I weren’t convinced that this was written before True Blood began airing on HBO, I’d be convinced that it was written as fanservice for those (of us) who really like seeing Alexander Skarsgaard naked. (Why wasn’t he cast in Magic Mike, again?)

In the end, there’s another battle between the Good Supernatural Clans (Vampires, Sookie, and Alcide’s Werewolves) and the Werewolf Witches Who Also Drink Vampire Blood, with Good Triumphing Over Evil.

The other central mystery that helps spur Sookie into putting herself into supernatural trouble is that her brother, Jason, goes missing. It is revealed at the end of the book that he was kidnapped by some Werepanthers from the next town over, left in a shed, bitten a few dozen times, with the result that now Jason’s going to be a Werepanther. Hooray? (And, unless I missed something — again, I haven’t begun watching last year’s season yet — I’m super glad they didn’t turn Jason into a shifter. And if they did, please don’t tell me; I’d like to be horrified on my own terms.)

All in all, Sookie continues to be a great narrator, protagonist, and example of how women should behave around supernatural entities — in universes where supernatural beings are commonplace, that is. She holds her own, she makes her own decisions, she has autonomy, and she has a great sense of humor about herself as well:

Oh, I was doing one great job of hiding Eric. Here we were, bounding through the cemetery, going toward the Wicked Witch of the West, instead of hiding in a dark hole where she couldn’t find us. This was so smart. [156]

Grade for Dead to the World: 3 stars

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