Reading Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels is like munching on a box of your favorite candy: they're sweet, not particularly nutritious and you won't stop until you've eating every piece. Last year, I read all the novels in the series in rapid succession, and then I waited a year for the latest, Dead in the Family.
In this latest installment, Sookie is still healing, both physically and mentally, from her many wounds she received in the Fae War. Amelia is moving out, Jason is dating someone new, Eric is still her man. This novel dives into vampire politics a bit, explores her relationships with Eric, Hunter and Claude further (I just love Claude's character, so I was happy to see more of him), all while introducing us to some new characters like Eric's maker Ocella, Alexei & Jannalynne.
This is an enjoyable installment to the series; yet, it wasn't my favorite. I read it quickly (you can read these in a day easily, even while stopping to make meals for the kids or to fill up the baby pool). I liked the parts with Eric and Hunter and Claude. Yet I really didn't care whose body was buried on Sookie's property, I didn't really care which fairy was roaming around uninvited and I just wanted to get through the big Were meeting to get to better parts of the novel. In other words, the intrigue that was set wasn't very, well, intriguing. Perhaps this is just that a year has passed, so my interest in the novels is waning? I think a better explanation is that the novel is, in my opinion, not as strong with the plot as some of the previous novels have been. Also on the negative side, I don't think any of the new characters are great ones. Jannalynne & Annabelle, Basim, Ocella, Ham & Patricia - none of them really "stick" with the reader; in fact, I had to look up some of their names in the book as I write this because I've already forgotten them! I love the idea of a vampire taken from the pages of history, like Alexei, but I think the author did a much, much better job doing this with the character of Bubba ("thank you, thank you very much").
That being said, I think Charlaine Harris does a great job with the main characters and seems to know them well. And she seems to know where she is leading the reader. The pacing of the novel seems about the same as the others. I also liked the storyline with Bill - I really like Bill's character and felt he deserved more than to pine for Sookie in every novel. And the bit with the family Bible was touching.
So, was this the best novel I've ever read? No. Would I recommend it? Yes, if you are into the series. And I would recommend the series - as a whole, these novels are great fun. I particularly liked the first one, and the fourth one (the one where Eric loses his memory and becomes a kinder, gentler Eric). I think after maybe the 5th one or so, they seem to be losing a little steam - but it's like watching a race that has many laps - not every lap is going to be the most exciting, but leaving before the end of the race is just no fun. And besides, you could always get a box of your favorite candy to help pass the time!
So, anyone else read this novel, or the others in the series? What are your thoughts?