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From Dead to Worse
Charlaine Harris
Gollancz, 359 pages

From Dead to Worse
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 Review: Dead as a Doornail
SF Site Review: Living Dead in Dallas
SF Site Review: Club Dead
SF Site Review: Dead Until Dark
SF Site Review: Dead to the World
SF Site Interview: Charlaine Harris
SF Site Review: Dead to the World

Past Feature Reviews
A review by John Enzinas

I was a little apprehensive when I started reading Charlaine Harris's From Dead to Worse. The copy on the cover pointed out that it was a Best Seller packed with romance and suitable for fans of Laurel K. Hamilton. To test if it was worth reading I opened it to 3 random pages and didn't find a single love scene. It passed.

While I didn't know it at first, this is the eighth book in the series and my introduction to both Sookie Stackhouse and the world she lives in. As you might have guessed by my not knowing that this was not the first book about this character, the author does a good job at introducing the reader to the world without expecting them to know much of the back story. It's possible that this might be frustrating for returning readers, but as far as I can tell, there seems to be enough new material that that shouldn't be an issue.

Actually, if anything, I suspect that the complaints would be in the opposite direction. The books starts off with a recap of what has come before and a bit of foreshadowing introducing both the widespread presence of vampires and that our protagonist is a Telepath. The story itself starts slowly with Sookie working a wedding where she gets hassled by an ex (who happens to be a vampire) and she meets a couple of mysterious strangers. From there the story explodes in to a collection of short vignettes including a hostile takeover attempt by vampires from Las Vegas, a clan war between rival werewolf packs in the next town over, fighting a smear campaign initiated by an angry shape changer, meeting her house mate's family, resolving her brother's marital discord and finally learning about her history and future.

While all of the characters are well realized and interesting and none seem to fall into obvious caricatures or stereotypes, the plots themselves were quite simplistic. Any one of the threads could have been expanded into a full length novel but instead we get a collection of interleaved short stories, each with a rather abrupt and tidy ending. Part of me wonders if this is due in some part to the TV series adaptation and the requirement of that medium for relatively uncomplicated and self contained stories.

While I have no knowledge of how this compares to the other books in this series, I can say that this one was a fun little excursion into a fully built world. Well realized characters deal in a rational way with the trials and tribulations of both the supernatural and the mundane world. It's a quick and entertaining read and I will definately look to Charlaine Harris for my Vampire fix in the future.

Copyright © 2008 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.

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