If you think your family relationships are complicated, think again: you haven't seen anything like the ones in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin (a non-human fairy and a telepathic second cousin) demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric's vampire sire, an ancient being, who arrives with Eric's 'brother' in tow at a most inopportune moment. And Sookie's tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbour (and ex), Vampire Bill Compton.
It's all about family . . .
I love Charlaine Harris - there, I've said it. I'm only missing the Aurora Teagarden stories before I have the full set. To say I was excited about reading Dead In The Family is a massive understatement. After wrenching it from Liz's hands I started reading on the train on the way home. The book opens finding Sookie dealing with the awful aftermath of the fae war. I'm glad that the reader gets to make this journey with Sookie rather than joining her months afterwards. It becomes apparent from the first few chapters that things are changing in Bon Temps. Amelia returns home leaving Sookie alone in her house. Well, almost alone as Eric is firmly by her side helping her recover. Four weeks later and Sookie is sunbathing again and has regained some of her sparkle.
Sookie, as generous as ever, makes the slightly unwise decision to let the Shreveport pack use her land. True to her character she is happy to help but finds that sometimes this can end up causing more trouble than it's worth. This opens a fascinating storyline that touches on the politics that Sookie has got herself tied up in over the years.
I felt that Dead in the Family is almost a return to a more traditional Sookie Stackhouse novel. With the closure of the gate between Bon Temps and the fae world and Amelia's absence the plot is able to concentrate on the actions of shifters, weres and vampires with greater effect. Yes, there are still some fae present but it reads like a natural progression. After all, fans wouldn't expect Claude to just disappear and with Sookie's heritage this part of the storyline flows. I loved the reintroduction of the importance of Vampire Bill's database and the way that, despite her misgivings, Sookie just can't stop getting involved in his (after)life.
I only have one slight misgiving which is the new creation of Eric's maker Ocella. I'm not going to say who this new vampire is as I don't want to spoil it. The character is brilliantly deadly and twisted but I'm not sure about the historical basis for him. It works for Elvis/Buba as this character is harmless but I'm not sure how Ocella's "child" will be received. I felt a little uncomfortable but then maybe that's just me. I'm interested to see how other readers feel. Sookie shares the readers discomfort I think, so from that point of view I think that Charlaine Harris is showing that not everyone should be brought back from the brink of death.