Sunday 22 May 2011

CBR3 Book 41: "Dead Reckoning" by Charlaine Harris

Publisher: Ace
Page count: 336 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Date begun: May 8th, 2011
Date finished: May 10th, 2011

This is the eleventh book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and it will make very little sense to anyone who hasn't read book 10 and quite a few of the others in the series. Standard warning about possible spoilers for previous books in the series.

 Sookie is still working as a waitress at Merlotte's, even though the business is not thriving, with a roadhouse opening up nearby, luring away many of the customers. It doesn't improve matters when someone attacks the bar and firebombs it. Everything happens very fast, but Sookie is pretty sure whoever attacked was two-natured.

Eric is distracted, and clearly has some kind of confict with Pam. Sookie can feel that he's upset through the blood bond they share, and Pam clearly wants to talk to her, but is forbidden to do so by Eric.Tired of not knowing whether her feelings for Eric are actually real, or brought forth by the blood bond between them, and the constant peril they keep experiencing, Sookie invites her witch friend and ex-roommate Amelia to come visit to see if the bond can be broken. However, breaking the bond could put Sookie in further danger from Victor, the newly installed regent in the area, who wants nothing more than to provoke Eric into doing something rash, so he can be removed once and for all.

Sookie finds out more about her heritage once she clears out a bunch of old furniture, and a cupboard contains a secret compartment with a mysterious fairy artifact and a letter from her grandmother. After talks with an old aqcuaintance, she even discovers where her telepathy came from. Now, she just has to survive Eric's power struggle with his boss, the plots of her fairy relatives, avoid a former adversary out for revenge, figure out how to help Sam get his business back on track and plan her friend Tara's baby shower.

Dead Reckoning was better than Dead in the Family, where I thought nothing much happened at all. I'm not entirely sure what Harris has planned for Sookie and the rest of the characters, there are clearly things set up in this book that will play out later, but she doesn't seem to be in a hurry to get there. Considering Sookie's life is threatened several times during the course of this book, it still seems to pass fairly slowly, and there seems to be very little of actual importance happening.

Certain parts of the plot completely messed up the continuity of previous books, and I think I will just ignore those, as either Harris is confused about what she previously wrote, or she's just committed a very unsuccessful ret-con. I'm not entirely happy with the direction she's taking Eric and Sookie's relationship, and after spending quite such a long time getting them together, she needs to decide if she actually wants them to ba a couple, or if she's just going to keep messing with them. She also needs to decide whether Sookie is ditzy and silly and impulsive to the point of being TSTL, or whether she's actually clever and resourceful, if somewhat weary of what her life since she was introduced to the supernatural world has become, because in this book she jumps between the two, and it gets confusing and frustrating. 

I didn't by any means hate the book, but the series is nowhere near as good as it was in the beginning. It seems as if Harris is just writing on autopilot, throwing inlife-threatening danger for Sookie in each book. In the first few, there was a central mystery to be solved, and each book ended with most of the story-strands tied up. Now each book ends in a much more open fashion, the focus is much more on vampire and faery politics, and I wish I had more confidence in Harris ending the series in a satisfactory way. Still, with only one book a year, I'll probably stick with it until the end.

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