My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Dead in the Family, book 10 in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris, is predominantly made up of a sequence of sub-plots based upon complicated "family" dynamics. First, there are Sookie's supernatural cousins forcing their way into her life, swiftly followed by the arrival of Eric's "brother" and his maker (what us old-school vampire nerds would call a Sire); Bill's "sister"; Tara's impending motherhood; and Sam's family breakdown after the Were Revelation of book 9. The plot lines are intriguing, but they don't really go anywhere and little is resolved. Resolving little seems to be Ms Harris' forte, though.
Unfortunately, Dead in the Family was not a return to the awesome writing form displayed by Harris in earlier books of the series, such as Dead to the World (book 4), which remains my favourite. Instead it feels like Harris is trying to milk Sookie for all she's worth, painfully dragging her story out until she can no longer be bothered and she kills the poor wretch off.
However, in contrast to book 9, where so much happens it is almost mind-boggling, in Dead in the Family there's not much happening at all, although the author does try. Boy! Does she ever try! But I felt it was forced, almost desperate in its construction. I swear I almost vomited when Harris resurrected poor Alexei Romanov as a creature of the night. One famous vamp per series is enough, and this already has one in Bubba, thankyouverymuch!
However, there are some good points. First, it was great to see a greater depth of character being developed in Jason, Sookie's brother, and Claude, her fairy cousin. Also, Sookie and Eric appear to have finally got it together. There's a lot of loving in the book, which is probably a good distraction for Sookie considering the traumatic events she suffered in Dead and Gone. But that's about where the good stuff ends: Although Vampire Eric has clearly aided her recovery, it's not the happy resolution to Sookie's love-life that I was hoping for. It is a very different Sookie and an almost unrecognisable Eric Northman in this book. I mean, what happened to the badass Viking vampire hero of old? The two characters are mere shadows of their former selves and it has left me reeling.
There was also a political aspect to the story frustratingly skimmed over by the author: The call for all Weres to be registered. I cannot help but feel this would have been a far more interesting plot line, but perhaps that is yet to come? Although, with the King of Louisiana clearly about to become the next "Big Bad", I won't hold my breath.
But I'll still continue to read this series despite its flaws. I've been sucked into Sookie's world and there'll be no breaking free until Ms Harris finally and unreservedly brings Sookie's fate to its ultimate conclusion - whatever that may be.