21 May 2011

Review 26: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

My halfway book on my Cannonball Read is the latest book in my guilty pleasures series, the Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris, better known as the True Blood or Sookie Stackhouse books as this is the series that inspired the Alan Ball series.

Dead Reckoning is the eleventh novel in the series about the telepathic waitress Sookie and her adventures with the host of supernatural creatures that she comes into contact with. Harris takes it way beyond vampire and werewolves - we have fairies (who are super powerful and scary), were animals of all descriptions including tigers and panthers, elves, demons and many more. I love this series and when I first started reading it, I literally read the first eight books one after the other as I couldn't put them down. For me the series tailed off a bit with recent additions but Dead Reckoning went some way in being back to Harris' better installments in the series.

Spoilers ahead for anyone who wants to avoid them...

 At the beginning of Dead Reckoning Sookie is still in her relationship with the vampire Eric. She also has a blood bond with him and Sookie is keen to discover if her feelings are genuine or just because of the blood bond which ties them together and means they can feel each others emotions. The vampires of Louisiana are struggling to deal with the new ruler, Victor, who is trying to provoke Eric to do something in order to kill him and novel ends with a bit of a bloodbath as Sookie and the 'goodies' try to overthrow Victor and his minions.
Sookie is also dealing with her relationship with old flame Bill, a murderous Sandra Pelt who is trying to kill her and her two fairy relatives living in her house. This series sounds out and out ridiculous to anyone who hasn't read these books or seen the TV series, and is in fact pretty ridiculous anyway but you have to just go with it and get immersed in Harris' bizarre supernatural Louisiana setting.
The initial novels were great as even though they were very much part of a series, each one had its own story which was wrapped up by the end of the novel. I felt that the last novel was a bit of a let down as nothing much seemed to happen - it was the first installment that I found a bit boring and it just felt like it was setting up the following books. Thankfully, Dead Reckoning had a bit more plot, a lot of which had been set up by the previous book (which doesn't make the last one less disappointing). I'm feeling like, much as I will miss the new books coming out, it's about time for Harris to start wrapping up the books as more and more outlandish beings and ideas are introduced to keep the plot moving. Much of the appeal of the initial books were the set of winsome and entertaining characters and the later novels are more embroiled in vampire politics rather than the people and their relationships.

Sookie is a brilliant heroine; charming and funny. I really enjoyed her inner monologue as she hid from two assassins in Bill's house as she kept getting distracted by other thoughts; "Irrelevant!". A typical 'problem' with books that have already been made into films or television is that you can't help but picture the characters as the actors cast. But when Eric is played by someone like Alexander Skarsgard, it's not really too much of an issue!

On a side note, I really hated the English cover - it's bright yellow with a blood stain down the front. I can't for the life of me understand why they chose such a garish yellow for the cover which doesn't really fit with the covers on the rest of the novels or the feel of the books. The dust jacket was removed very quickly on my copy and I hope they produce a better cover for the paperback.

Harris' skill lies in creating fastmoving books with appealing characters that you can't put down. All in all, Dead Reckoning is a good addition to the series, and considerably better than its predecessor; a fun read with some interesting new plot developments. It's worth starting this series at the beginning if you haven't tried it as these novels depend  lot of whats happened before and the first four or five novels are the strongest in the series.

1 comment:

  1. Anna, thanks for you comment. I completely agree with your review. The first handful were the best, I guess after a while any story will get a bit bogged down. I also agree about the cover. Luckily mine had the cover matching the series, but I've seen the yellow cover all over the internet and it is very jarring!