Book Review – Dead and Gone: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris
The ninth Sookie Stackhouse novel from the Anthony Award-winning Southern Vampire series – and the basis for the HBO series True Blood.
Except for Sookie Stackhouse, folks in Bon Temps, Louisiana, know little about vamps – and nothing about weres.
Until now. The weres and shifters have finally decided to reveal their existence to the ordinary world. At first all goes well. Then the mutilated body of a were-panther is found near the bar where Sookie works – and she feels compelled to discover who, human or otherwise, did it.
But there’s a far greater danger threatening Bon Temps. A race of unhuman beings – older, more powerful, and more secretive than vampires or werewolves – is preparing for war. And Sookie finds herself an all-too human pawn in their battle.
Dead and Gone: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris starts off with the formal ‘coming out’ of the were/shifter community, so naturally, I thought the big news (and its aftermath) would be the focus of the book. Would there be a big brouhaha or would people just accept them quietly? I was most interested in how the revelation would affect the characters I already knew of, like Sam, Alcide, Jason etc. Unfortunately, the body of a crucified were-panther showing up at Sookie’s place of work (the parking lot at Merlotte’s) indicates that maybe acceptance won’t be so easy.
But to my disappointment, it soon became evident that the main plot for this ninth Sookie Stackhouse novel is not the weres at all (to add insult to injury, the mystery of the murdered were-panther is quickly resolved in a way that I did not like or agree with!). Dead and Gone is really about the brewing Fairy War between Sookie’s newly discovered great-grandfather Prince Niall and his enemy (and nephew), the Fairy Prince Breandan. The problem with this plot is that since the books are written solely from Sookie’s point of view (notably, a Sookie who hardly knows anything about her new relatives), we readers won’t know anything about the main villains or their cause either, and more importantly, hardly get to see any of the actual great fairy battles (since Sookie isn’t out fighting the great war). Even though Sookie is one of the main targets of the enemy fairies, she’s still essentially a tangential character in the war (just a hostage or a pawn).
There’s a definite disconnect here, so all we, the readers, end up with is a lot of exposition or talking about things after the fact or while waiting for something to happen (It’s not enough to have a disheveled looking Niall or Eric come and give reports to Sookie!) Too much essential stuff happens off-screen (like important characters dying or almost dying!), and Sookie herself blanks out or is hurt much of the time so she becomes an unreliable narrator in the latter half of the book. This is a terrible way to write a story, so I am absolutely perplexed that Ms Harris thought this plot would be a good idea. Add in some glaring continuity errors (why did the editors miss elementary errors like getting characters’ names wrong?) and hanging plot points (FBI investigation into Sookie, Sookie’s ex Quinn) … and this isn’t really a recommendable book at all.
The only thing I liked about Dead and Gone is that there is some progression in Sookie’s relationship with the vampire sheriff Eric Northman. I’ve always liked Eric’s character best, so I liked having some more insight into his past and how he’s dealing with regaining his memories of Sookie (admittedly, Eric doesn’t quite act like himself here, but I chalked that up to his adjusting to the new memories). I even liked the bit of suspense about vampire Bill’s fate, but IMO Harris chickened out of doing a GRR Martin (if you watched the Game of Thrones on HBO, then you’d know what I meant).
For a second opinion – here’s some reviews of Dead and Gone by other bloggers:
- soniareviews – “absolutely readable material!”
- Opinions of a Wolf – “without a doubt my favorite Sookie Stackhouse book so far”
- Confessions of a Bibliophile – “still candy for my supe-loving brain”