The tenth book in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries (aka Sookie Stackhouse), Dead in the Family brings a lot of change to the inhabitants of Bon Temps. While it was definitely different from previous novels, I have to say I truly enjoyed it.
After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she’s angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman. But he’s under scrutiny by the new Vampire King because of their relationship. And as the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie’s connection to the Shreveport pack draws her into the debate. Worst of all, though the door to Faery has been closed, there are still some Fae on the human side-and one of them is angry at Sookie. Very, very angry…
Dead in the Family totally kept my attention all day. There wasn’t a huge plot or conflict that Sookie was knee deep in, but there was enough going on that it wasn’t boring. Honestly, Dead in the Family really reminds me of Buffy’s fourth season finale – the one where Buffy gets caught up in a dream with the “First”. Sookie has had so much going on in her life that she needed this downtime, something easy and eye opening. A lot of threads were tied up, and yet, there were plenty more that began. In my opinion, the Fae have been dealt with. I can’t see them coming back. We’re definitely going to see more vampires in the future, but instead of Eric going along with his king’s wishes, I think we’re going to see his rebellious side come out. Plus, with the weres recent “coming out”, legislation is going to occur and we really didn’t see much of it for the vampires. Dead in the Family opens a lot of possibilities of what we’ll be seeing and I kind of like it.
I’ve seen some comments saying the book tries to tie the HBO show in a little too much, but I don’t get it. Yes, there is mention of Jace Everett’s Bad Things song (it is a really good song) and the Bureau of Vampire Americans, but all of that is mentioned while discussing shifter politics. Really, there’s only two instances where this is brought up, so I get that Harris mentions it, but it is in more of an offhand manner than anything point blank.
As for Sookie, she is definitely starting to get smart when it comes to the supernaturals. She understands she’s been a little to willing to go along with whatever they want her to do; now she is thinking things through first. Getting all the details before jumping into a situation. I like this. She is also starting to get a little savage. No one will call Sookie a kickass heroine, but she’s starting to get there. She knows what has to be done, and while she’s not willing to do it, I don’t think she’ll have a problem being a participant in seeing it get done.
As for her relationship with Eric – yeah, it’s doomed. I really don’t see it lasting, even if Eric wants it to. It just seems like he was there when she needed someone without agendas, or at least hidden ones. Everyone Sookie has ever been in a relationship with, they’ve always had secrets they’ve kept from her. Secrets that generally focused on her – Bill spying on her for Sophie-Ann, Alcide wanting her for her telepathy and Quinn, he just wasn’t upfront with her about a lot of things. However with Eric, she’s always known he’ll use her for her telepathy and that he can be very ruthless and practically all at the same time. She definitely gets more from Eric than any of the previous three, but at the same time, he can’t give her what she still wants. She hasn’t given up on it yet and I really think if she finds a way to break the blood bond, her feelings are not going to be as crystal clear as they are now. I could be wrong, but Harris has already said that Sookie won’t end up with Eric and it really stood out for me in Dead in the Family.
Before I end this, I should say, while there isn’t a plot or major conflict, there are a bunch of little incidents that really are not about moving some agenda along, but are there to help develop the characters more. Usually, by the tenth novel, most characters are fully developed, but Harris isn’t doing that with hers. Sookie is changing and we’re getting to see that. With the arrival of his maker, we get to see a side of Eric that hasn’t been there before. Plus Bill gets an unexpected visitor and that is definitely going to change some things where he’s concerned. Like I said earlier, Dead in the Family really reminds me of that fourth season finale – the purpose of Dead in the Family wasn’t to put everyone into a huge battle and then have everything work out, but to give the characters more definition. Honestly, think of it this way, Dead in the Family is two or three different stories all mashed together. Harris could have done all of this via an anthology collection, but we got to see how Sookie handled each crisis and how they affected her reactions. We would have missed that if she had only focused on each crisis one at a time.
Overall, Dead in the Family was a great read in the fact that it gave you more of the characters. There wasn’t any vampire politics to keep track of or shapeshifter antics going on, but there is enough going on that it made it hard for me to put it down. Everything Sookie goes through is meant to show that she is surviving and is learning to deal with whatever the supernaturals toss at her. She’s starting to get a backbone and we totally see that.
Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone
Dead in the Family