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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

'Dead Reckoning' Sookie Stackhouse: Southern Vampre #11 by Charlaine Harris

From the BLURB:

With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit - and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided.

Though she can't 'read' vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his 'child' Pam well - and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human - and that there is a new Queen on the board. . .

** Major SPOILERS for ‘Sookie’ books
1 – 10 and minor SPOILERS of ‘Dead Reckoning’ **

‘Dead Reckoning’ is the 11th book in Charlaine Harris’s hugely popular ‘Sookie Stackhouse: Southern Vampire’ series.

Things are almost normal at the Stackhouse residence. Sookie has gained two faerie housemates in her cousin Claude and great-uncle Dermot. Their presence is a healing balm in the aftermath of the vicious fae war . . .

Meanwhile, Merlotte’s is suffering in the wake of the Were ‘reveal’. Residents of Bon Temps are wary of their old watering hole and its shapeshifting owner. One night the bar is firebombed and both Sookie and Sam suspect more danger to come, in the form of an old foe.

But Sookie already has her hands full. Her vampire lover and husband, Eric Northman, is fighting with his second-in-command, Pam. Sookie has never seen Eric and Pam at odds, and it alerts her to the real troubles in Louisiana now that Victor is in charge. Sookie must be smart about these vampire games – she wants to protect those she loves, but putting herself in the middle could get her killed. . .

Rolling in the Deep

Charlaine Harris’s ‘Sookie’ novels have been getting progressively darker as Sookie herself gets deeper and deeper into supernatural politics. The ninth book, ‘Dead and Gone’ has been the darkest by far (complete with kidnapping and mutilation). I am happy to report that ‘Reckoning’ isn’t on-par with that disturbing darkness, but Harris continues the trend of writing Sookie between a rock and a hard place.

In this book I really felt Sookie’s isolation. She has her hand in a lot of local politics – regarding both the Louisiana vampire population and the changing attitudes towards local shifters since their ‘outing’. Sookie’s close-quarters living with her two fae family also means she is being slowly drawn into the faerie world once again – and learning about her family’s fae history. Sookie most certainly has her hands full with all her obligations and allegiances. But in ‘Reckoning’ it becomes clear that Sookie herself is very secluded, she has very few people she is totally honest with, and even less to confide in. ‘Reckoning’ really highlighted for me that characters in the ‘Southern Vampire’ series travel in packs and clans – but Sookie is one of a kind and all alone. She’s not quite human, too little fae, lover and friend to vamps and were’s, but not really a part of them.

Harris is contracted for two more ‘Sookie’ books before she concludes the series, for good and forever. With that in mind I do believe that Sookie’s need to fit in will be a big exploration in future books. Because in ‘Reckoning’ Sookie is slowly starting to realize that she has been compromising herself more and more in order to ‘fit in’ where she doesn’t necessarily belong. I look forward to reading how Sookie reconciles this, and how she finds her place.

First Love

Bill fans will be very happy with ‘Reckoning’. I won’t give anything away, except to say that there is some vintage Bill in this book and it’s good to have him back.

Likewise, Alcide Hervaux fans will be somewhat disgruntled. For those of you who have been wishing and hoping that the Shrevport Packmaster would get his chance with Sookie . . . I've only got to say, don’t hold your breath. There’s a little scene in ‘Reckoning’ that has been a long time coming (ever since Alcide turned into a total douche-bag after becoming Packmaster!). This scene felt good to read, as though Sookie had been biting her tongue for a long time and Harris finally let her speak her mind. You go girl!

‘Reckoning’ gives Pam a fantastic storyline. I won’t give anything away, but I do hope the makers of ‘True Blood’ incorporate this character plot into the TV show!

There’s also a great cameo appearance in ‘Reckoning’ by two characters from Harris’s other mystery series, ‘Lily Bard’. That’s right – Lily and Jack Leeds are back and it’s nice to read them still continuing their happily-ever-after (even if Sookie throws a minor spanner in their works).

Best for Last

Fans are prepared for Eric and Sookie not to get their happily-ever-after together. We know this, because Charlaine Harris has dropped some pretty heavy-handed hints. She has wink-wink, nudge-nudged that Sookie hasn’t met her HEA yet (i.e.: Eric ain't it).

While reading ‘Reckoning’ I kept looking for hints in every new male character to enter Sookie’s life. I am eager to learn who Sookie’s soul mate will be (if not Eric) and I am desperate for us to meet him sooner than the last book in the series.

Because I suspect Eric and Sookie aren’t going to last, it is bittersweet to read them in ‘Reckoning’. Yes, they are still in love in this book and there is a happy-yahoo scene of sexiness. But at the end of the day it reads like Harris is stalling . . .

Make You Feel My Love

It feels like Harris is foreshadowing Eric and Sookie’s eventual demise. If that is the case, then I almost wish that Harris would treat it like a band-aid and rip it right off . . . but realistically fans wouldn’t be happy if Harris didn’t write a believable ending to one of popular fiction’s most beloved couples.
“But you tell me everything, my lover, don’t you?” he asked teasingly.
I glared at him and didn’t answer.
That wasn’t what Eric had expected. “You don’t?” he asked, and I couldn’t figure out everything that was in his voice. Disappointment, concern, a touch of anger . . . and a dash of excitement. That was a lot to pack into a couple of words, but I swear it was all there. “That’s an unexpected twist,” he murmured. “And yet, we say we love each other.”
“We say we do.” I agreed. “And I do love you, but I'm beginning to see that being in love doesn’t mean sharing as much as I thought we would.”

Chasing Pavements

It does feel as though Harris has written ‘Reckoning’ with an end-game in mind. Stories are set-up, cliffhangers are dangling and the end does feel to be just around the corner . . . heck, even Sookie can feel something big on the horizon;
I had that panicky feeling; it hadn't taken me over yet, but it was just around the corner, physically and mentally. You know that feeling? When you think any second your heart’s going to start pounding, that your breathing is picking up, that your palms will start sweating.
Knowing that there are two books left, and realizing that Harris has a few ideas about how it all ends makes ‘Reckoning’ quite satisfying. Yes, there are some uncomfortable truths and steep cliffhangers. But I look forward to what Charlaine Harris has in store for our girl Sookie. Above all else I want to know who her HEA is, and I want to see her fit in and feel a sense of belonging - because she deserves that much. Fans have been with Sookie for eleven books now and she’s still as ballsy, beautiful and brave as ever before. She deserves a little slice of happiness; however and with whomever it comes . . . so I can’t wait to read her get it in the next two books!

5/5

6 comments:

  1. OMG awesome review! it just made me more excited aboutt his book! UGH!

    Thanks! LOL

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  2. Can't wait to read this! My SIL is taking me to lunch with Ms. Harris (and a few hundred others, lol) for my birthday and I can't wait!!!

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  3. I like the little nod to the wonderful Adele in ur review :) looking forward to reading this one.

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  4. @ mo - Thank you. I liked the fact that Adele Stackhouse was Sookie's grandmother, but Adele's music also seemed to suit this novel. Thanks for noticing!

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  5. What do you think constitutes a heavy-handed hint that Eric is not the HEA? I think you are mistaken about that. I can't imagine Ms. Harris will give us Sam as the end game here. Especially, when she illustrates the passion that Lily has for Jack. Is Sookie willing to do what Lily is to keep Jack? Will Sookie continue to have the resolve she indicated in Dead in the Family to prove Appius wrong? I'm going to take a guess that we'll find out in two more books. Other than that, great review.

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  6. I really felt this book went nowhere. This could have been a short story in regards to content. The story did not progress much and nothing too exciting happened. It was pure character developement with little plot. I really hope the next book returns to the usual wonderful level of writing I have come to expect from Ms. Harris.I really felt this book went nowhere. This could have been a short story in regards to content. The story did not progress much and nothing too exciting happened. It was pure character developement with little plot. I really hope the next book returns to the usual wonderful level of writing I have come to expect from Ms. Harris.

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