Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris (audio)

Definitely Dead is a Sookie Stackhouse book from the Southern Vampire Mystery series. Yes. Southern Vampire Mystery Series. The television series True Blood is based on these books. This is not my standard reading material, but (this is becoming a theme) I picked it to cover Louisiana for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge, on rhapsodyinbooks‘s recommendation. I like James Lee Burke for Louisiana normally, but took this opportunity to expand my knowledge (if not my reading loves) – for professional reasons as a librarian, if for no other reason. One of my first pleasant surprises was the narration; Johanna Parker’s southern accent is fun. (Her Irish accent, for Father Riordan, on the other hand, is a travesty. Luckily we don’t hear too much from him.) The redeeming features didn’t end there; Sookie is a pleasant, likeable enough protagonist. She’s a little bumbling, and she struggles a little bit with her sense of self-worth, but she’s not whiny; she’s just human. Ha – that’s a joke, as her being human makes her fairly unique in Bon Temps, Louisiana, a world full of supernatural beings: were-wolves, were-panthers, were-tigers, vampires, goblins, and sundry shape-shifters.

In this book, Sookie is being attacked by various enemies: one, the family of the Pelt girl that she apparently killed in an earlier book, and two, okay I won’t give it away just yet… The vampire Queen of Louisiana (what a funny phrase, it made me smile every time) marries the King of Arkansas (even funnier!) in a political match, but Sophie’s cousin Hadley is the Queen’s real love. Hadley has just died, and when Sookie goes into New Orleans to clean out her apartment she finds a dead werewolf in the closet – and the intrigue just increases from there. Meanwhile, Sookie begins to date a sexy were-tiger, Quinn; he’s there with her when she’s attacked on several occasions, so they bond while fighting various supernatural beings. There is an unusual sex scene between the two of them that I am still contemplating and finding unlikely, but I’ll let you discover that one on your own.

It’s an odd world that Harris builds here; a number of phrases got me giggling just for their oddity (I wish I’d taken better notes here). It was strange enough to me that the novelty was rather amusing, although I guess regular readers of paranormal whatnot are beyond this. Sookie is relatively charming, and Quinn is an attractive character; I found myself entertained once I got into things. But this book is no literary feat. The dialog can be awkward, and I found enough grammatical errors to be distracting.

In the end, this wasn’t a painfully bad book to listen to. (Well, the cd’s in my audio copy were badly scratched and sometimes that got a little painful, but I don’t hold Harris or Sookie responsible for that.) It had its moments, but it failed to make me care deeply; the world Harris built was more silly than interesting. Unfortunately I don’t care what happens to Sookie next, although I wish her well.

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