Dead to the World is the fourth book in the Southern Vampire mystery series set in Bon Temps, Lousiana and featuring Sookie Stackhouse. She works as a barmaid at Merlotte’s and is gifted (or cursed) with telepathy. Ever since she hooked up with vampire, Bill Compton, life has ceased to be dull.
In Dead to the World, Sookie finds herself drawn back into the supernatural community when it is revealed that a coven of witches have taken up residence in Shreveport. Vampire bar owner and entrepreneur, Eric Northam seems to be their target. Negotiations between the witches and the vampires was a major FAIL, leading the Area Five sheriff and master vampire stripped of his memory. Wanted posters are put up with a $50,000 reward for his capture.
Sookie steps in to provide Eric with a safe place to stay in Bon Temps while his followers, namely Chow and Pam regroup. Sookie finds this new Eric much harder to resist especially since he’s been stripped of his self-identity. For the last three books Sookie’s fought Eric’s charms, but now that he’s vulnerable, her resistance to him is weak. The dynamics of their relationship changes a lot in this entry. Sookie is independent and doesn’t like people to control her. It’s revealing to me that she admits that she could resist Eric if he had been his usual, controlling self but when stripped of his personality, she falls hard.
There’s a side-story involving Sookie’s reckless and kinky brother Jason, who disappears after New Years. His date was a shifter, only he didn’t know it. Bon Temps law enforcement searches for him as well as the community. Sookie is eventually led to a small community called Hotshot. Sam, her boss, alludes to the fact that the residents of Hotshot are an inbred and “older settlement of people” who like to keep to themselves.
So Sookie has to shuffle between Eric being cursed and hunted by a band of evil witches and her brother being missing. That’s a lot for a girl to have to deal with alone especially since she’s human and lacking supernatural strength. Needless to say, Sookie doesn’t get beaten up too bad in here compared to the last book. But she does find herself faced with a couple of moral dilemmas when the story ends.
I’ve been really enjoying this series, especially seeing how the vampires are supposedly assimilating themselves into human society. It’s almost even believable, in that the general public has come to tolerate vampires in the community. Like any other oppressed people, there are those who seek to do vampires harm like the drainers. The name is self-explanatory. Certain rights are still restricted for vampires like marriage. In the end, vampires prefer to nest with their own kind and rarely do you find a vampire living among humans, alone.
It’s interesting in that the further along this series goes, the more layered the supernatural community becomes. For instance, the werewolves consider themselves much more superior than those who are two-natured or “shifters.” Within the supernatural community, as Sookie says, there’s a lot of squabbling amongst each other. The vampires can’t stand the werewolves and vice versa. However, humans can’t stand either one of them, thus there are laws set in place to protect them.
There is a definite hierarchy of power and politics in play in this series that I enjoy reading. I like that the author has created a world where supernatural beings interact with humans in a small town where there’s a Wal-Mart and only one vampire in residence. Then there is Sookie’s humor. I love it. Her unresolved relationship with werewolf, Alcide Herveaux, who is again featured in the story, is explained this way:
“We’d dumped a body together, and that creates a bond.”
While Dead to the World is not my favorite of the series, it was still a good, quick read. My favorite is still Dead Until Dark and I prefer Bill Compton, no matter how boring he may be to some of you (and you know who you are). I don’t see Eric’s appeal but that is of no import. I prefer Bill because he is more reserved and is more than willing to let Sookie be independent while Eric, I think, would cramp her style. Anyway, Dead to the World gets a B from me. I thought that the story had some slow spots especially revolving around Jason’s disappearance.
I also thought that the info concerning Hotshot’s populace could have been revealed sooner but for some reason, that plot point was reserved for the ending. Guess the next big thing is what happens with Jason after the events in this book? There are awkward turns of phrase = Sookie’s southern accent, which can be somewhat distracting. Her southern dialect was the main the reason why I couldn’t even begin this series but I’ve since gotten used to it. My grade, B. Moving on to the next book in the series, Dead As A Doornail. If you are interested in reading the Sookie Stackhouse series, you should start with the first book, Dead Until Dark.
Here is a link from BN that lists all the books in the series and don’t forget, Dead and Gone comes out next Tuesday, listed pub price $25.95 in hardcover. The series has also been made into an HBO series called True Blood by writer, Alan Ball (Six Feet Under). All books in this series is available in ebook.