FROM THE BOOK JACKET:Dead and Gone is the ninth Sookie Stackhouse mystery and by far the darkest story yet. As the series has matured Sookie has become more immersed in the supe world and in fact gravitated to the centre of it in her community of Bon Temps, Louisiana. On her journey, Sookie has grown from a young woman with limited life experience and innocence tempered by her telepathic awareness of human nature, to a resistant member of the harsher supernatural community, a victim of emotional and physical violence, but also transformed and strengthened by it. But not without a personal cost as reflected in this dialogue between Jason and Sookie midway through the book over his betrayal of Sookie and Calvin about Crystal’s infidelity –
For Sookie Stackhouse, the day to day activities of the vampire and were communities in and around Bon Temps, Louisiana, are of vital interest, She's blood-bound to the leader of the vamps, a friend to the local were pack, works for a man who is shifter, and has a brother who is a were-panther…
But for most of the humans in Bon Temps, the vamps are mysterious seductive creatures-and they don't even know about the weres.
Until now. The weres and shifters have finally decided to follow the lead of the undead and reveal their existence to the ordinary world.
At first it seems to go well. Then the mutilated body of a were-panther is found in the parking lot of the bar where Sookie works. The victim is someone she knows, so she feels compelled to discover who-human or otherwise-did the deed.
But what she doesn't realize is that there is a far greater danger than the killer threatening Bon Temps. A race of unhuman beings--older, more powerful and far more secretive than vampires or werewolves-- is preparing for war. And Sookie will find herself an all-too human pawn in their battle…
“You forgiven me?” he asked before he’d taken a gulp of coffee. His voice sounded hoarse and thick. I thought he’d been crying.Even early on during the big coming out for the Were community, this mental exchange by Sookie as she watches a shifter on TV is telling about her new harsher perspective on life.
“I expect sooner or later I might,” I said. “But I’ll never feel the same about you again.”
“God, you’ve gotten hard. You’re all the family I’ve got left.”
Alcide had made a good choice. Plus, if someone killed her right away, well . . . she was the new girl.Curiously the big Were announcement that launches the opening of the book plays little bearing on the events to come. Just like a mystery writer to throw out a red herring. Instead the biggest mystery of Dead and Gone is what is happening to Sookie. Has she finally reached some vague breaking point or is there some supernatural influence at work. We have never seen Sookie this confused, uncertain and angry.
I felt a moment of disconnect, as if I were standing back from my own life and viewing it from afar. The vampires owed me money and favors for my services to them. The Weres had declared me a friend of the pack for my help during the just-completed war. I was pledged to Eric, which seemed to mean I was engaged or even married. My brother was a werepanther. My great-grandfather was a fairy. It took me a moment to pull myself back into my own skin. My life was too weird. I had that out-of-control feeling again, as if I were spinning too fast to stop.Sookie’s blood bond with Eric undoubtedly comes into play but it is not as if Sookie is unaware -
“I don’t know if the-comfort-I feel with you is the blood bond exchange or a feeling I would’ve had naturally,” I said, picking each word carefully.But in multiple situations she fails to act on that knowledge –
And thanks to my own dazed affection . . . or warmth . . . or infatuation . . . for the Viking vampire, I had done exactly what he’d asked without consulting my common sense.and
We sat for a while in silence. I felt exhausted but oddly peaceful. I should be giving Eric hell about his high-handed handling of Quinn’s request and the knife presentation. I should be asking him all kinds of questions . . . but I couldn’t summon up the necessary fire.But she does manage to stir herself and let a little of the no-nonsense, assertive Sookie shine through on one occasion as she responds to Eric-
“I don’t doubt that you want what you think is best for me,” I said. “And I don’t doubt that that marches right along with what you think is good for you.”There is an angry and frustrated Sookie that we haven’t seen to this degree in the past -
I was mad at almost everybody when I drove home that night.and
Not only was I afraid they’d kill each other, I realized that I was really tired of people popping on and off my property like it was a train station on the supernatural railroad.But as often as the anger appears Sookie also wavers and voices inexplicable feelings -
It was almost impossible for me to feel anxious. I noticed in a distant kind of way. And yet surely I ought to be upset and angry?Dark as Dead and Gone is, there are still excellent moments of humour and levity usually from Sookie -
Also, he picked some unwise words, Saying, “ I’ll enjoy killing you for my lord,” is just not the way to make my acquaintance.and perhaps one of the most unusual sexual expressions I have read that made me laugh when Sookie is with Eric -
He was as deep inside me as he could get without an operation, and he glowed above me, his white skin shining in the darkness of the room.And Eric has his moments too –
“You don’t want to know how I feel about you? Eric looked incredulous. “ I can’t believe you’re a human woman. Women always want to know how you feel about them.”In Dead and Gone, Charlaine Harris subjects a great many of her principal characters to significant tragedy including Jason, Sam, Amelia, her grandfather Niall, Eric and Bill and not the least of which is Sookie. After eight books most readers will have serious emotional investment in the series which makes this book a turning point. What happens to Sookie as the book draws to conclusion is devastating -
I was completely and utterly lucid for the next hour, which was the longest of my life.And the aftermath leaves Sookie at a low ebb that we have never seen before -
I found it bewildering-and utterly shocking-that I could feel such pain and not die of it.
I would have been glad to die.
But I’d looked at death too closely-close enough to see all the pores in Death’s face-and I’d suffered too much. I wouldn’t bounce back this time.Charlaine Harris taken some real chances in this book, shown us a flavour of Sookie we are unfamiliar with, changed lives, even killed off characters and it will be incredibly interesting to see what new direction the series will take next time around. I suspect there is some foreshadowing of things to come in this exchange between Eric and Sookie -
“You want to own your own life,” Eric said.Dead and Gone is a big departure from the safe and familiar Sookie Stackhouse that we all know and I think one of the best and most challenging books in the series to date. Highly recommended.
“As much as anyone can.”
Penguin Group (USA)
Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Series: