“My gran had always told me that a woman--any woman worth her salt--could do whatever she had to.”

Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 4) Publisher: Ace - Charlaine (Author);  Harris

Sookie and Bill have called it quits on their on-again, off-again relationship, but that doesn't mean Sookie's life has gotten any easier. Bill still lives nearby; plus, Sookie finds a memory-wiped Eric on the road one day as she's driving home from work. Apparently, a coven of witches led by Hallow tried to extort money from Eric and took his memory. Also, Jason, Sookie's brother, is missing. Can Sookie defeat the witches, retrieve Eric's memory AND find her brother?

These books are pure guilty pleasure, like eating cotton candy at the fair or ice cream on a hot day. They aren't very substantial, ground-breaking or earth-shattering, but they are fun. Reading about Sookie's life, hearing the humorous way she faces the most extraordinary circumstances are what make these books so much fun. Oh, and the deliciously, devilish Eric, with his offbeat personality!

That said, while I did enjoy myself with this book, I found there were a few things that bugged me. First off, a good part of this book is spent with an amnesiac Eric. That does lend itself to some nice scenes with Eric and Sookie, but it also veers off to creepy-ville when they are exploring their, ahem, relationship. Is Eric REALLY consenting when he's not fully Eric? What does that say about Sookie, if she is ready to have "relations" with Eric in this state? I can't help but draw parallels to date rape and having sex while drunk - can you REALLY consent when you aren't yourself? While it's cool again to see the Eric/Sookie dynamic, it's not really Eric and Sookie - it's memory-wiped Eric and Sookie. And memory-wiped Eric really isn't Eric. (In fact, he reminded me way too much of Bill, but that could have been the narrator slipping into "Bill's voice" for these parts.)

The second thing that bugged me was something you see all too often in series: the addition of new paranormal elements. This can be a good thing, when done well, with plenty of foreshadowing. Unfortunately, most of the time, it comes off feeling like the author ran out of things to do with her already established world. And that's kinda how I felt here. Harris couldn't think of new things to do with weres and vampires and skinchangers so she added witches and faeries. Yes, faeries. Gah.

Lastly, I'm noticing more and more how harsh Sookie can be to other women. She holds them to really strict standards and often has no problems jumping in critiquing a woman's actions or appearance. We are by no means at Anita Blake level of misogyny, but it's enough to be a little disturbing.

A lot of this review has been about what is WRONG with the book, but that is just because I can't add much to the many GOOD things I've already said about this book and series. It's a delightfully fluffy series, not too serious, but still able to treat the darker subjects with appropriate sobriety. Sookie's voice, upbeat and lighthearted, independent, brave and eager to act to save other's lives, is a warm welcome in such a dark and dismal genre filled with Dark and Broody Misfits. And the Eric and Sookie dynamic is very fascinating when you don't think about the potential rapey aspect.

This series isn't for everyone, but I continue to enjoy myself. I think, though, it's best to read a book or two between other more substantial books than to read the entire series in one go. I found I've liked this book better than the previous two, and I think it's because I gave Sookie some time to breath. I'm definitely going to pick up book 5 in the future - after a bit of a break.