Thursday, 23 October 2008

Charlaine Harris, From Dead to Worse

The Sookie Stackhouse series of modern fantasy novels is usually a lot lighter in tone than some of the others, and this, despite several killings, a minor war and an assortment of unpleasant people, keeps up that vibe. As usual, the characters are elegantly, if briefly, drawn, the dialogue has a quirky edge to it lent by the central character's mind reading, and the whole thing has the feeling of bouncing along.

The only problem is that it doesn't seem to be going anywhere in particular. There's a plot, or rather there are plots, ranging from a werewolf war to a vampire takeover to a series of revelations about Sookie and her family. All of them are entertaining in their way, but none spans the entire book. It's like Harris has written a bunch of good, engaging sub-plots and then forgotten the main one. It doesn't make this a bad book, but it does completely throw off the story arc, and leave this one with the feel of a 'loose ends and set ups' book. A few old plotlines are tied off neatly, a few old characters killed rather too neatly, and half a dozen new possibilities opened up for the future. It makes the things that might happen next intriguing, but it also means that this one is for those readers who have already read the rest of Harris' books.

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