Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Dead in the Family / Charlaine Harris

3 out of 5 stars
Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin (a non-human fairy and a telepathic second cousin) demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric's vampire sire, an ancient being who arrives with Eric's 'brother' in tow at a most inopportune moment. And Sookie's tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbour (and ex), Vampire Bill Compton.

In addition to the multitude of family issues complicating her life, the werewolf pack of Shreveport has asked Sookie for a special favour, and since Sookie is an obliging young woman, she agrees. But this favour for the wolves has dire results for Sookie, who is still recovering from the trauma of her abduction during the Fairy War.

 Not as much fun as earlier books, but still a good way to see my way through the first migraine headache that I have had in many years! This was a good distraction.

Although Sookie and Eric seem to have gelled into a couple, this actually takes away much of the plot tension from the story. Despite the fact that Eric is often away, they seem to have lost the push and pull in their relationship that made previous books so addictive for me.

On the plus side, we get to know Sookie’s little telepathic cousin, Hunter, a little better and her fairy cousin Claude moves in and becomes marginally more likeable. Sookie’s brother, Jason, seems to have matured a bit as well, even if he has moved on awfully quickly from his marriage to the late & unlamented Crystal.

And it’s not only Sookie’s family that gets time in this installment—Eric’s vampire sire and “little brother” show up. Of course his sire is an ancient Roman and the “brother” is the Russian Romanov prince who was so damaged by the time he became a vampire that he is unstable and dangerous (shades of Anne Rice in both of these matters). Plus, Sookie finds a “sister” of Bill’s, someone to assist him in regaining his health after his gallantry in book 9. (However, she very much resembles Bill’s mortal wife from the 1800s, so we will have to see how Sookie deals with that kind of competition for Bill’s affection, little dog-in-the-manger that she is).

All in all, a very appropriate title for this volume, as there are many family ties explored. Also included: some heavy foreshadowing, as Sookie contemplates her age and how long Eric or Bill will remain interested in her when she is no longer young & pretty. Since there have also been discussions of how much more blood exchange can take place between Sookie & Eric without turning her, this will no doubt be an issue dealt with more thoroughly in the last 3 books.

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