Fiction Reviews

Dead and Gone

(2009) Charlaine Harris, Gollancz, £12.99, hrdbk, 312 pp, ISBN 978-0-575-08550-3

To borrow from a band title, 'Vampires Will Eat Themselves, or bite themselves, or suck themselves, which is my way of saying that there are too many vampires on the loose, and it doesn’t look like they are going to stop rising from the grave any time soon. Oh, sure there has been a zombie blip – and who else would be more likely to eat themselves or each other than zombies? And I suppose, the new contender on the block might be werewolves, given the appearance of hunky six-pack werewolves in the Twilight movies, and the soon-to-be-released The Wolfman remake, but there is only one prince of darkness after all, and he seems to have a heck of a lot of relatives drawn from the ranks of the lesser nobility, who unlive in the pages of the paranormal romance section. Are vampires scary anymore? Discuss.

By the time we get to this title, book nine, of Charlaine Harris’ Southern vampire 'Dead' series (again with the look and that sticker linking it to the True Blood TV series) we are virtually in a whole new supernatural world. In Dead and Gone there are still vampires, but there are Weres (guess what they are, and, there are more than the obvious ones you can think of) and Shifters, as well as witches and Fairies who make an appearance. In fact a Fairy Civil war is about to happen, and there are a lot of revelations about Sookie and her parents, and her linage to be uncovered . What I liked about the early 'Dead' books (that started with Dead Until Dark) was that they seemed like a funny, off-beat companion piece to Laurell K.Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels. Where Anita was firmly rooted in the business of the supernatural as an animator/vampire hunter, Sookie encountered this world from a different – if mundane and ordinary – angle. Now she is right in there with the action and the canvas around her seems to be getting bigger and more fanciful with a whole host of beasties as supporting characters. Perhaps, because of the intrigue and unanswered questions and pacing Dead and Gone is a 'Dead' book too far, which is unfortunate because there are at least another four on the way. Fangs can only get better, we hope.

Ian Hunter

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