Books I Say No To: Dead in the Family

Books I Say No To is an informal review segment where I take time to discuss why I couldn’t finish a book or dislike something about it enough to say so and why. This is not a means of discouraging reading of the book. You are always encouraged here at Lurv to seek out and read what interests you, despite less than enthusiastic opinions. A score is only given if it’s for Amazon Vine, where I occasionally receive ARCs.

*There be spoilers, plus the book blurb below is an all-out spoiler for the previous title. Ye be warned.

Description via

After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she’s angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman. But he’s under scrutiny by the new Vampire King because of their relationship. And as the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie’s connection to the Shreveport pack draws her into the debate. Worst of all, though the door to Faery has been closed, there are still some Fae on the human side-and one of them is angry at Sookie. Very, very angry…

Dudes, that Mysterious Angry Person in the blurb above isn’t the only one very, very angry at Sookie.

Warning, this may turn into a rant, I just don’t know yet. I managed to get some initial WTFery out of the way when I ranted on Goodreads.

Ah shit, Sook, did you have to go and become a bitch? Don’t you remember that you put this series on my flippin’ map? The KMont Map of Reading Love? Your series, Rachel Morgan’s series. That’s really it for me as far as series that have been special enough the be my first and second most favorite series. I have a third – Kate Daniels. Guess she trumps you now, Sookie.

Let’s start at the beginning. In the beginning of Dead in the Family, Sookie’s undergoing a very understandable recovery process. It happens this way when people torture you and, oh, eat little bits of your flesh. Sookie, you are entitled to some anguish, agony, anger, and the means by which to get through it and survive and become stronger.

I didn’t however, expect it to turn you into a bigger bitch than…well, a bitter, rejected woman.

I don’t know exactly what ALL happened to Sookie when she was kidnapped and tortured at the end of the last book. At the time, it was given to readers in a very hazy way. Sookie understandably had to go to a place away from it all in her mind in order to not snap mentally. But I don’t know ALL what happened to her, even after this book. Was she also sexually assaulted? I’m not saying that having bits of your flesh shark-bitten out of you isn’t enough, it’s just that it really was all so fuzzy at the time it happened.

Anywho, since I’m not big on heroines in UF and other similar genres constantly being beaten to hell and back, I’m not usually a big fan of their recovery processes either. Sookie’s was very believable though. I teared up! I didn’t really expect that to happen, since her actual attack in the last book sent me into fits of huffiness at Sookie being beaten up. Again. Whoop-dee-frickin’-do. Like we haven’t seen that before. Oh sure, maybe not quite that bad before, but each book, pretty much, this is the storyline. There must be a line of them. Next up in line to pummel Sookie into the ground, step up, please!

But the recovery period was touching. But it was most of the book. And part of that was a kind of reestablishment of all the important characters. I felt sometimes like we were going down a checklist, Harris and I. OK, Sam – check. Eric – check, check, check. And check. Once more, with blood bond feeling! Check. Hell, there was even a WTF moment with Bill, some ‘ole kissy on the lips for old times sakes. Cuz, you know when he leaves her for his beloved sire lady vamp, and Sookie was subsequently bitter about it for several books, that’s just all water under the bridge since Bill took on silver poisoning to save her life. Never let it be said that Sookie holds TOO much of a grudge.

Except, that storyline rears it’s head once again. Because Eric’s daddy vamp is back in town, and he’s brought along Eric’s baby vampire brother (not a real brother, just some poor kid turned vamp by same sire). Who the daddy vamp is having sex with. But I digress.

The point is, Harris is using pretty much the same storyline with Eric and Sookie this go around. In the face of his sire, Eric feels powerless. And this was so painful to behold – the un-vamping of Eric. The shriveling of his masculine vampire self. As the book goes on, and the more afraid Eric and Sookie become of what his sire might force him to do, Eric becomes less than himself. I’d say emo, but I think he was even less than emo. Powerless, like a wasted hull of a vampire, he was no longer the enigmatic confident, power-hungry and dominating force he always has been.

I’ve got to interject here that this could be seen as character development.

And I’m going to pffftttttt! that right back out the door. It doesn’t work for this particular reader. I’m not even sorry to say – I love Eric as he was. I love him as a devil-may-care, dangerous, you-don’t-know-who-he’ll-kill-next predator. Please, after this book, a bunny wouldn’t quake at his boot. And that is just sad. Now I feel all emo.

The more Eric hangs his head in utterly flabbergasting failure, the more Sookie becomes frustrated with him (While I was just frustrated at the author. Yep, I said it.). And it’s not just helpless frustration, no, it’s enraged frustration. Bitchy frustration. She starts treating him like the whipped dog he’s acting like. And it was PAINFUL to read. More painful than the thought of any of the times Sookie’s been beaten into the ground. She and Eric had kind of become another Spike and Buffy for me. But you know what? Yes, Spike and Buffy changed. They grew as fictional characters. But their growth was organic and natural and whatever other synonym you’d want to use. Eric and Sookie’s transition in this book felt ugly. Just that. Nothing else. Plain ‘ole blah at the end of the day. Noting had remained of the characters I truly loved as my second most favorite set of novels.

I ranted a little about the last book in that review, and I thought then that that book could well be the end of the series for me. When Ana over at The Book Smugglers offered me a copy, though, I thought, This is it, a chance to be redeemed. And all Dead in the Family did for me was bring down the ax one final time and lob the thing off at the neck.

It truly is all dead in the family. The End.

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  1. Oh I am truly sad to see how this book (read: Sookie) progressed. All I can say is ERIC as EMO and DEPRESSED!?! Heck, my favorite part about Eric’s character is his whole untouchable, blond viking god thing – so that is not really what I was hoping for for him in terms of development. Sadness. Thanks for the great review though – at least it put a smile on my face ;)

    • Exactly, Michelle, what you said about why you like Eric. WOE is me after this book lol.

      • I was half expecting Eric to step out into the sun and sparkle – setting off a new plot for the next book.

        A horrendously contagious vampire plague known only as Twilightification is rampaging across the South…..WILL THEIR LOVE SURVIVE?

    • *gasp* Sookie is a DNF? I couldn’t bear to read your spoilery post b/c haven’t started it yet, but I am so sad! Will report back after I’ve finished.

      • I did actually finish this one. If it’s not too spoilery for you – it’s just the last few chapters that yanked me out of the series. I don’t get why things had to happen a they did. I hope you enjoy it tho!

  2. I didn’t read this one because half way through the last Sookie book I put it down and walked away. I have no desire to go back until someone sends out a good review. I have to agree with what you said about the same old same old happening to Sookie.

    • Yeah. *sigh* I know how you feel about that halfway mark in the last book. *double sigh*

  3. And I’m done. The last book was awful – so I needed this to be amazing to keep me interested in Sookie. I think Harris might be running out of things for Sookie to do – she’s definitely run out of ways to keep me interested.

    I did kind of finish it though. Skimmed the last half just to settle a bet with a friend (we were debating whether or not they’d kill of that telepathic kid’s dad just so Sookie could be an instant mom).

    • I know what you mean, I really needed this one to be amazing as well. No such luck for me. Your bet made me laugh, in a kind of horrified way lol.

  4. YAY! your review makes me so happeeee!!! because i came *thisclose* to buying the book and ultimately decided not to since it sounded like i wouldn’t like the “storyline”. and now you have reinforced that. my library hasn’t even ordered it yet, and when it does i will still sign up to be 23rd on the wait list, but i have low expectations.

  5. I didn’t read the spoiler-y post either because I’ll get this book … eventually … from the library but dang. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be happy with this book. The series has gone on too long, I suppose.

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