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Dead to the World
Charlaine Harris
Ace, 304 pages

Dead to the World
Charlaine Harris
Charlaine Harris is the author of three previous Sookie Stackhouse novels; Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, and Club Dead. She is also the author of two popular mystery novel series, the Aurora Tegarden series and the Lily Bard Shakespeare series.

Charlaine Harris Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Interview: Charlaine Harris
SF Site Review: Dead to the World

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

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This is what? Charlaine Harris' fourth book and I have read none of them up 'til now. Why? Don't waste time trying to figure it out; I've tried and come up with nothing. Fortunately, someone kicked some sense into me and I'm afraid I may well be hooked on Harris' fiction for life. Besides, there's no time to waste when I've got to backtrack and read the first three novels to complete my Sookie Stackhouse store of knowledge. The next one could arrive anytime now. (I hope! I hope!)

There's plenty of material because there are so many things always ready to go wrong for Sookie. Her telepathy is no blessing, no matter what those who can only dream of the ability imagine. Certainly, it has helped her out a few times, but it brings her nothing but trouble and the kind of reputation that guarantees she will never be fully accepted, in any social circle. It makes for a lonely life and a lack of self-esteem that is completely undeserved. When you think about it, Sookie may well be the only thing keeping the vampires, weres, witches, shape-shifters, and the small town folks of her corner of Louisiana from all-out war.

This time, she finds herself minus one lover, missing a brother, harbouring an amnesiac vampire -- all while trying to uncover precisely what a strange -- make that "foreign" -- coven of witches has invaded her hometown of Bon Temps. Good times are one thing she can be assured of, whatever the city limit signs suggest. To unravel the mystery and get things back into some semblance of normality, Sookie must become more familiar than she ever wanted to with all the players in this dark and deadly game. As always, she will be dragged into a situation where her very survival is very much in doubt. Considering how much each reader will see of themselves in Sookie, that's a bit unsettling.

Many authors have tried the modern vampire, or undead, tale, with mixed results. Harris' hits the tone squarely on the mark with a touch of black humour, a smear of gore, wisps of the paranormal, and unrelenting suspense. Her creation of a world where vampires and other strange creatures exist openly alongside humans should be unbelievable, but comes across as surprisingly credible. Maybe it is because she knows us mere mortals better than we know ourselves. Maybe it is her ability to take the most chilling power and lay it before readers as more than possible; in her hands, the most incredible seems quite likely. Now, considering her subject matter, there's a scary thought.

It could be that we are ready to believe anything could be going on in the hidden corners of bayou country. Perhaps, we've never been completely convinced that vampires and such are merely the stuff of legends. Maybe we humans are working our way to accepting the myriad differences between us, attempting to live in peace, and seeing our diversity as the thing that makes us so entertaining, and maddening, at times.

Right. Keep dreaming. In the meantime, whatever you do, latch on tight onto Charlaine Harris' work with both hands and your imagination. Settle down and laissez les rampant temps rouler.

Copyright © 2004 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction, horror, dark realism, and humour. DARKERS, her first novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She is a contributing editor at SF Site and for BLACK GATE magazine. Lisa has also written for BOOKPAGE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Science Fiction Weekly, and SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.


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