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Back in 2001 author Charlaine Harris wrote 'Dead Until Dark', the first in a series that she called 'The Southern Vampire Mysteries'. Sales of the first few novels in the series were reasonable, but then in 2008 American broadcaster HBO began showing a series loosely based on the books called 'True Blood' and sales of the novels went through the roof. Since then Miss Harris has completed the series with thirteen novels and seventeen shorter stories.
This book, 'From Dead to Worse', is the eighth in the series of novels and is most definitely not a place for new readers to start. It assumes that you have a working knowledge of the series to date (it was published in 2008) and can remember pretty much all the events of the previous novel, 'All Together Dead'.
Like I said, there are many novels in the series and many short stories, some collected together as 'A Touch of Dead', others much harder to track down. But 'From Dead to Worse' doesn't feel like it fits into either category. It's billed as a full length novel (and runs to over 350 pages) but feels like a short story collection, with only Sookie Stackhouse and her relationship with Bon Temps's supernatural communities tying the various ideas together. Many ideas are introduced only to be neatly wrapped up and forgotten about a couple of chapters later - when a new idea is cleanly started only to end a few pages later.
So we have...
* Sookie meeting a mysterious stranger who turns out to be a previously unmentioned but immensely powerful member of her own family;
* A power struggle among the werewolf community in which Sookie tries to mediate;
* A power struggle among the vampire community into which Sookie is drawn by her friendships and lovers;
* The hunt for Sookie's missing boyfriend, Quinn the weretiger;
* An internal problem with the werepanthers concerning Sookie's brother, Jason, and his pregnant wife.
Any of these stories could have been fleshed out into a full length novel or stripped back to a short story or novella. As it is they're bundled together in a haphazard way with very little crossover between the five story ideas. The entire book feels disjointed and a little incomplete because of it.
One thing that this book is really good at though is fleshing out the characters that we've grown to love (or loathe?) in previous books. Miss Harris slips little details of backstory and teaser into the narrative so naturally that it's like hearing that an old friend spent five years in the Army, so you go, 'Really? I never knew that!'. The peope of Bon Temps, both living and undead, seem quite believable in this novel, which is something that couldn't always be said of some characters in the series before this. They're fully rounded and do believable actions with understandable motives. It's just a shame that the plot is so unpolished.
If you only know these stories from the television show then you're going to be hopelessly lost. Many of the characters in the books have yet to make an appearance in the television show. Conversely one of the most popular people in the on-screen 'True Blood' was killed off in the first of the novels. The television show and the books have taken the stories in very different directions while still retaining enough reference points to be recognisable as coming from the same idea.
The television show is excellent.
The books are excellent.
This particular book is... pretty good.
A few months ago I introduced a work friend to the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Indeed I let her my box set of the first seven in the series, which she told me she really enjoyed. Recently she read this one and once she had done that she gave it to me as a present. Being quite a fan of this series and the television programme 'True Blood' which has followed it I was very keen to get started on it.
==About the author:==
Charlaine Harris was born in Mississippi, USA in 1951.She has already written 29 novels, but it is her Sookie Stackhouse novels that have really turned her into an international best-selling writer.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Sookie Stackhouse is a Waitress in her hometown of Bon Temps. She is different from most people because she is telepathic. This has been a help and a hindrance in her life; help because she is able to get information from people. But also a hindrance because she can get confused whether a person has told her something or she has just read their minds, also when dating you don't really want to know all the time what your boyfriend is thinking.
Things are changing in Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Katrina and the attack on the head of the Vampire community. As a result of this some vampires have been forced to move into Sookie's area and it is hard to know if these new visitors are friends or enemies. To add to her confusion her boyfriend Quinn is also missing.
However it is the Ware Community that starts to concern her, as there is an attempt on her life, plus the girlfriend of Alicide a leader Ware is murdered and the Ware's pack leaders wife is missing. Sookie is afraid of a war between the two men who can call on many others of their community. So she brings the two parties together to try and get them to resolve their problems and prevent this with very surprising results.
==My thoughts on this novel:==
I must admit I did enjoy this piece of Supernatural fiction, I just think this series of books are so different from anything else and so well thought out, it makes it a real pleasure to read. And while I do not think this is the best in the series it was still very interesting and always full of good ideas and a real sense of the unexpected.
This is the eighth book of a series that so far has ten books within it. I would recommend although each book is very different that you do actually start with the first one in the series rather than this one that was written in 2008. The reason I say this is because there are important events from earlier books that influence not only what happens in this book but also the relationships with the central characters and why they behave the way they do.
One of my main criticisms with these books and again it was displayed in this one too, is there are always several different strands of stories in the book. This can be confusing and at times you wonder what has happened to the original one and why was it mentioned if it was not going to be investigated or concluded. Then much later in the book the author returns to that theme again. I would really like to see one complex and deep well thought out story rather than several shorter ones that don't always seem complete.
There were three important factors that I liked about this novel as soon as I saw it. Firstly and simply it was a Sookie Stackhouse novel and I have enjoyed them all so far. Secondly, I really like the concept behind these books; I like the idea of these supernatural communities that are just coming to light in America. And thirdly, I read the summary of the back of the book, which although quite short it sounded very interesting and I liked the idea of change hitting Sookie and her friends lives.
As soon as I started to read the story I was enjoying it, not because the story was exciting or riveting initially because for me it wasn't but because it was great to be back with these main characters that appear in all this series. In truth I found the story a bit directionless to start with and I was waiting for something out of the blue to happen and I was disappointed it took a while to warm up. There was plenty of background and the odd exciting incident but nothing gripping was happening.
However you always felt things were about to happen and they did but it surprised me that it happened in the Ware Community as previous to this we had been given insights into other supernatural beings such as Fairies, Shape Shifters, Witches and Vampires. Which in itself can lead to confusing remembering who is part of which group, exactly what is happening within their community. For me there are already too many different groups but it certainly adds spice and keeps the reader on their toes.
I found the Ware story interesting as it's resolution was not one that I was expecting. It was in the main well written but I felt like a lot of Charlaine Harris's great ideas this could have been both extended and expanded, as the concept was wonderful with its build up enjoyable. The actual resolution was quick and then the subject only rose again towards the end of the conclusion of the book.
The story then went on to deal with the changing Vampire world. I really like the vampires in these stories I have got to know them and they all seem to have fascinating characteristics. They are probably for me the most interesting and I enjoyed the new threat that was affecting them and again the surprising resolution to it. Like above for me this could all have been one extended story and I think that would have worked much better to have a clearer and deeper understanding exactly what was happening and why plus the potential impacts of it.
Having said the above I did still enjoy the various stories, as there was always so much to think about. The action is always full on and described in an honest and no holes barred way, so that you feel you are in with exactly what is happening and the scene is one you are partaking in. You can never relax at all because there are thrills and spills around each practically every scene.
The beauty for me with this and every story in the series is the amazing super human communities the author has created. She has taken a lot of time and trouble to build up a comprehensive understanding of how these would be and she explains them in a way that is believable, so that even now I still wonder if there really is a secret Vampire community I know nothing about.
The other key factor that draws me back to these books time and time again is the lead character Sookie Stackhouse. As she is so different from your usual star, as she is a very down to earth lady that is only different because of her Telepathic ability or as she sometimes refers to it as her disability. I found her a fascinating lady, always wanting to help those she cares about, with a big heart and lots of courage to take only creatures far bigger and stronger than herself. She is a fabulous character who even in the most serious situation can still say or think something very amusing that lightens the mood and makes you remember this is really just fiction.
Some fabulous characters support Sookie as well within the series my favourites are the Vampires. I find them fascinating and I love the way when Sookie is making a joke they do not seem to understand to realise she is not being serious. The chemistry between her and for example Eric is always interesting and you have no idea what will happen next in their love hate relationship. And while I haven't really grown to love the other central characters from the other communities, they are still interesting with their own distinct way of living and working.
For me this will not go down as the best in the series as nothing really ground breaking happened to Sookie. For example I liked it when Sookie first fell in love with a Vampire or she went to her first Werewolf meeting. So for me this one lacked the newness or freshness that some of the series have displayed. However I still really enjoyed it and I was looking forward to reading my next instalment each evening. What I sometimes feel this author lacks in her writing skills she more than makes up with her vivid imagination.
For fans for this series of supernatural stories this is an absolute must read. I found it to be a lively, exciting and enjoyable book and would recommend it as a fascinating read. Yes I would like the author to concentrate, expand and increase so that you have one main story, but by doing it her way you have shorter different stories to enjoy from the various communities, so if there is one you don't like there are several others that you should do coming up.
Price: £3.50 Paperback at Amazon
Year of Publication: 2008
About the author: www.charlaineharris.com
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under my user name on Dooyoo and Ciao.
©CPTDANIELS July 2011.
This is the 8th book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris about the telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse. The RRP is £6.99 but amazon are selling it for £3.49 and I got it as part of a set. I bought the first 8 books from thebookpeople.co.uk for £8.99.
This book carries on with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the explosion at the Pyramid of Gizeh hotel. Sookie is back home and Amelia (the witch introduced in the last book) is still living with her. The story really starts of with Portia and Halleigh's wedding which has a surprise in store for Sookie who is there to help Sam with the refreshments. As her boyfriend Quinn has been missing since her went home to recover from his injuries from the explosion, Sookie is beginning to worry about him. Eric takes Sookie to a restaurant to meet someone who turns out to be very special to Sookie. On the war home Sookie is shot at and Eric has to help her out yet again. This turns out to be the beginning of a Were war when a newcomer decides she wants to take over as packleader of the local Weres. You get to meet Amelia's mentor Octavia in this book who is quite a strong character. Then to top it all another vampire king decides he wants to take over Louisiana while Sophie Le Clerq is growing her legs back.
This book gripped me from the beginning as all of this series has. There are a lot of twists and turns and the plot is brilliant. It is a light read which I always find enjoyable but the characters are really believable and you really do feel for them when things do go to plan. Those of you that have read the previous books will know that things rarely go to plan for Sookie. A lot of the characters from the previous books are in this one so noone is really left out if they have a favourite character. I really enjoyed this book and found it hard to put down.
This book is the 8th in the seies of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries/True Blood book series by Charlaine Harris.
Please note - only read this review if you have read the previous seven as there are some spoilers.
After loving the True Blood TV series, I got into reading the book series. I liked some of the other books but felt books 5 and 6 in particular dragged a lot, and seven was OK but nothing special.
This book sort of brought it back to what I liked about the TV series and whilst it contained a lot about other supernatural creatures (other than just vampires), I felt that because we knew the characters a little better, it was easier to follow than some of the earlier books.
There are some plot developments with the Were wolves that I just don't know why they are in the books..they don't seem to flow very well, but perhaps I won't know this until I have read the whole series.
This book had lots of sub-plots and I personally think this will be one of the best for the TV screen. I could definitely visualise this a lot better than some of the other books.
I do feel some of the major things in this book felt rushed, such as the Vampire coup which was a MAJOR event, only took up one chapter. I felt there were other things that took up lots of chapters (like Bob the cat!) that I didn't care about but they spent a lot of time on in the book.
One thing I didn't do in this book was flick through it to the Eric parts, mainly because he was heavily featured throughout, perhaps thats is why I liked this book the most.
I really feel that Eric and Sookie should have sorted out what happened in book 4 by now (we're on book 8), but to be honest their relationship is the only thing that keeps me hooked on the books and I definitely like the vampire parts more than the other supernatural beings parts.
I agree with another reviewer on here that Harris fails to give any depth to the Were wolves, and really, she doesn't even give Sam as much plot development as he deserves, whereas in the TV show, he gets a lot of coverage and we care for him about a character. I find it hard to read books when I don't care for the character, hence liking Eric, he is well developed and very complex.
It is still probably one of my favourites in the series so far, but the TV series version will be so much better.
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris is the eighth book in the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries / True Blood Series. It retails at around £5, with Amazon having it available for £3.48 at present. It's even cheaper if bought as part of a series of the first eight books from either The Book People or Amazon, but if you've already bought the first seven books inidividually, that's not very helpful of me to point that out at book number eight...
To appreciate this book you'll need to have read at least some of the previous True Blood books, and you will absolutely have had to have read the preceeding book, All Together Dead, to get anything out of this book. The storyline is very much focused on the aftermath of the tragic events which occurred in book seven, so you just won't understand a whole lot of the contents of this book if you haven't read that one first.
In this book, we get to see a new side to Sookie. She's no longer an innocent and slightly naive waitress from the little outback town of Bon Temps, she's now a hardened, independant and resilient woman with more life experience than she ever really wanted to have. It's interesting to see this new Sookie making choices for herself and her life that the young Sookie of book one would have never made.
There are some strange goings on involving the weres in this book that I wasn't a huge fan of. I found that the book dragged a little in places, and felt like Sookie was seriously procrastinating over trivial things too. I've never really been a fan of reading about the weres in Charlaine Harris's books, and I think that's because she doesn't give her were characters much depth. They're weres sure, but unlike the vampires, they don't have personalities and lives that run very far beyond that.
There's a bit of dancing between Sookie and her various suitors in this book, including 'the conversation' between Sookie and Eric that has been dragged out for several books now. It isn't what I expected at all though, and I do feel that a lot more could have been made of it than was. I was expecting a much bigger reaction from Eric than I got considering how long that particular sub-plot has been dragged out for.
Also in this book, there is a revelation that makes this book well worth reading. We finally start to understand why Sookie is the way she is, and what her allure to vampires really is. The way it's been written really made me want to go "duh, of course" and yet although it's a logical progression that occurs, it really wasn't an obvious one that many readers will have seen coming. If you want to understand more about what I mean, you'll just have to read the book!
This is a reasonable effort from the author and one I recommend to fans of the series. It isn't the best but it isn't the worst either. It drags a little in places, and there are some frustrating points where I wish the author had put a little more effort into what could and should have been key moments. But it flows well enough and there are some interesting turns of event in here that I really enjoyed reading about.
After being drawn into the previous book in the series, and of course the fact that my sister Emma had given me the entire series to finish reading, I jumped straight into the next book in the series, this review being on said book.
The book I will now review is - "From dead to worse by Charlaine Harris".
Be warned that this may contain spoilers from the previous book!
After nearly losing her life....again, Sookie is more than ready for a quiet life, but that is not what she is going to get!
After the vampires and supernatural community suffered such a devastating loss during hurricane Katrina, the further loss after the man made explosion in Rhodes at the vampire summit, has all but wiped out whole communities of "supes", couple this with the fact that Sookies "boyfriend" Quinn, has gone missing after the explosion, Sookie feels like she is teetering on the edge of a precipice.
There are many "people" who are willing to push her over the edge, this time these people being the werewolf communities.
After a couple of attempts are made on her life, Alcide (Sookies former squeeze and were wolf) decides it may well be time for an all out war, but who should the war be against as the so called enemy may not be the wolves they are after!
The final straw comes when Sookie finally becomes aware of her parentage, maybe the attraction that her on/off blood bonded vampire lover is not as simple as attraction, but more likely her fairy connection.
Will Sookie survive, will she finally give herself over willingly to vampire leader Eric, will Quinn finally turn up or will her life be finally ended by the so called distant relatives that claim to be there for her sake alone.........
This is another good book! Alongside the storyline I have mentioned there are dramatic changes in the vampire hierarchy meaning much more violence than normal, but as it is used in context to the storyline it is not gratuitous.
This book I have to say is not one of my favourites though, this book tends to centre almost entirely on the misfortunes of the were community, they are described as a very barbaric race, but there traditional rites of passage are sometimes a little too much to read about, they are animals after all and behave very much so in that vein!
The only good thing that offsets this fact is that the main character Sookie behaves in a manner that a human would react, being sickened at some of the rites and howl with laughter at others (excuse the pun!), this lightens the storyline considerably!
As with he previous books it is solely Sookies personality and character that carries the stroies off so beautifully, always with a degree of acerbic hilarity, these books (even the ones that were just not as interesting personally to myself!) are a really great read.
For more information visit - www.charlaineharris.com
Pricewise these books are available for £6.99, but are more than likely available for much less on www.amazon.co.uk.
Thanks for reading x