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    Review of DEAD TO THE WORLD by Charlaine Harris (see her website)

    Ace Books, May 2004

    With her vampire ex-boyfriend heading out of town, Sookie Stackhouse looks forward to more peaceful (and lonely) times in small-town Louisianna. But when her brother starts dating a shape-shifter and hunky vampire Sheriff, Eric loses his memory and Sookie finds him running naked near her house, she realizes that the times will be anything but peaceful. With his memory intact, Eric was a jerk but he's sort of sweet without it--and Sookie has a hard time fighting the attraction. Still, she's made a new year's resolution--no more getting beat up. And if she hangs with Eric and the other vampires, she knows she's going to get hurt.

    When her brother turns up missing, though, Sookie realizes that she can't just lay low. And with witches trying to take over nearby Shreveport (where Eric is from), it doesn't take long before she's in the middle of the fight of her life. There is one bit of good news. Despite a great figure and good looks, Sookie's mind-reading always scared away the normal males. But as she meets shifters, witches, vampires, and even a fairy, there are plenty of non-human and half-human males who find Sookie just what they are looking for--assuming she can survive long enough to create a relationship.

    Author Charlaine Harris (see more reviews of novels by Harris) mixes up humor, suspense, magic, and a really nice character in Sookie Stackhouse for an especially strong entry into her Southern Vampire series. In a world where amoral vampires and amoral humans wage war for control, Sookie provides an ethical perspective and a bit of balance. Her concern for her missing brother and her ambivalent feelings toward Eric increase reader empathy with Sookie and our stakes in the outcome.

    I've enjoyed each of the Southern Vampire novels but DEAD TO THE WORLD may just be the best.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 7/05/04

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