If you are here for the amnesia and tortured romance trope, you came to the right book. If you are here for witches, you also came to the right book. If you are here for both of those things, then why am I recapping these, you could do it for me and I could be reading something a little less bloody. Prep yourselves for all sorts of nudity and brain matter (not at the same time, thank God) in Dead to the World, the fourth book in the series. Spoilers to follow…
At Merlotte’s for New Year’s Eve (working, of course), Sookie makes the saddest resolution that is also very evident of how her life has been going since she met up with Bill Compton: “I just hope to not be beaten up.” Poor Sookie, honestly. She’s still getting over her breakup with Bill, where he left her for his maker, was then kidnapped and tortured by said maker, only to be rescued by Sookie, who then stakes his maker. In any case, Sookie leaves work looking forward to going home and resting, when she drives past a half-naked man running down her sad little road. Not just any man, it’s Eric. She tries to get answers out of him, but discovers he’s lost his memory.
Pam, Chow, and Jason all show up. Pam and Chow explain that they were approached by witches, led by a woman named Hallow (nice), who wanted to form an allegiance, theoretically business AND pleasure, if you get my drift, but when Eric turned her down, she cursed him. They ask if he can stay with Sookie, as Hallow might not think to look for him here. Jason, who is here purely coincidentally, tells them AirBnB doesn’t exist yet, and they should pay Sookie for the privilege of what is essentially babysitting. They agree, to the tune of thirty-five thousand dollars.
But then the next day, Jason goes missing. Sookie drops by his place with local cop Alcee Beck, but the only evidence of foul play they find is a bloody smear on the dock at Jason’s pond. Sookie leaves with one of Jason’s shotguns; she’s hiding a vampire in her house from the witches who cursed him, and then suddenly her brother goes missing? It might be coincidence, but Sookie is no fool.
Sookie goes and hunts down her friend Tara Thornton, who is still dating vampire Franklin Mott, but is living in denial that werewolves or real witches exist. She points Sookie in the direction of fellow Merlotte’s waitress Holly Cleary, who is a witch and a Wiccan. Sookie also meets Tara’s friend Claudine, who is tall and gorgeous, and claims to have been drawn to Bon Temps because of all the supernatural activity.
Anyway, we learn from Holly that Hallow’s witches are also shifters, AND they’ve had vampire blood, so they are like eight kinds of bad news. (I mean, I guess that’s really only three kinds of bad news.) They came into Shreveport and immediately started trying to recruit all of the local covens to their cause.
Sookie goes on a not-date with Alcide to warn him about the coven. It’s not a date because he’s still “friendly” with notorious bitch Debbie Pelt (friendly in this context meaning, still talking to her, and believing the things she says, even when they’re outright lies, even when she’s lied to him in the past). It’s also not a date because they end up meeting with the Shreveport packmaster, Colonel Flood, and going hunting for a missing Were, who they find dead in a bridal shop. When the cops come to investigate why these two young folks just happen to be swinging by a bridal shop, Sookie and Alcide spin the not particularly convincing yarn that they are in the middle of a whirlwind engagement. For two people who routinely fall back on the fake dating trope, they never make out and it is a waste.
However, Sookie DOES go home post-murder scene and has a lot of sex with Eric. So… go Sookie.
In the process of trying to find Jason, Sookie ends up in the local community of Hotshot, which is outside of town, and a bit weird. They’re all an inbred shifter community, and Sookie thinks Werewolves, but it turns out they’re werepanthers. This is especially not great when it turns out there’s a bloody panther print where Jason was last seen. It’s run by Calvin Norris, who is a nice guy with a good job at a local something plant, who has a romantic eye on Sookie (largely because the Hotshotians are super duper inbred and he’s looking for some fresh non-supe meat). There’s also his niece Crystal, who went to the bar with Jason on NYE, and his nephew Felton, who is odd and secretive.
The witches and the Weres get into a fight outside of Bill’s place, and one of the witches runs a Were over with their car. Sookie, the only human on scene, takes her to the hospital in her own car and comes up with an awkward backstory. She is not big with the cops, what with a missing brother, being on site of a mysterious murder scene, and now being on site of a mysterious car accident. Anyway, the girl is Maria-Star Cooper, and she lives.
Sookie is driving back to Merlotte’s for the big vampire-werewolf let’s-kill-witches meet-up, and starts to fall asleep at the wheel. She’s woken up by Claudine, who is inexplicably in the front seat, cheerful and mysterious. Sookie thinks that Claudine is like some kind of guardian angel. File that thought away for later.
Anyway, everyone teams up and goes to lay siege on the building where Hallow and her team of witches are holed up. Bill shows up, sees Debbie Pelt, and tells everyone that she’d been at Russell Edgington’s poolhouse when Bill had been held captive there, and had been part of the torturing. She was also the one that shoved Sookie into the car trunk with him, when he was waking up and starved. Alcide abjures her, a werewolf ritual where he can no longer see, hear, or speak to her – he treats her like she does not exist, in the purest sense, and it’s a huge diss and a blow to Debbie’s already fragile ego. This does not endear Sookie to Debbie, particularly.
The Witch War, as they’ll later call it, goes down, with Sookie, the Weres, the vamps, and some local witches and Wiccans going up against Hallow’s crew. Sookie holds a knife that a guy falls onto, and she feels pretty guilty about that. Hallow’s side dies, except for Hallow, who is taken hostage to break the spell on Eric.
Sookie and Eric arrive home post-Witch War… and find Debbie Pelt sitting in the kitchen, gun in hand. She fires at Sookie, Eric takes the bullet, Eric goes down, and Sookie grabs the shotgun she took from her brother’s house and fires, getting Debbie all over the kitchen. Eric disposes of Debbie’s body and her car, Sookie has no idea where. Then they both clean up the kitchen. Unexpected, violent murder really brings a couple together.
Eric gets his memory back, remembering who he is at last, but forgetting everything of the past few days after Hallow’s curse. He doesn’t remember his time with Sookie, which isn’t great. He doesn’t remember Sookie killing Debbie, which is better. It’s a bit of an emotional blow to Sookie, because memory loss Eric was a sweet and attentive person (/vampire), and normal Eric is still charming, but she knows he’ll always put everything else in his life first, and she isn’t into that.
Something Sam says at work that night triggers something in Sookie’s mind, and she hauls him out to Hotshot, where she confirms with Calvin that Felton has always loved Crystal. Turns out Felton is the one who kidnapped Jason, tied him up in a shed, and went in every night to shift into his panther form and bite Jason. He was hoping that Jason would become a panther, therefore eliminating his outsider exotic status, which Felton believed Crystal was attracted to. Felton is disposed of, in a Hotshot way, whatever that means (I assume he’s eaten). Sookie, and we, shall wait patiently until the next full moon to find out if the bites took, and if Jason becomes a werepanther.
And the bullet points.
–Does anyone new get introduced that in theory will come up later as a recurring character?
Claudine, a mysteriously beautiful woman. Colonel Flood, the Shreveport packmaster.
–Does Sookie get laid and/or romantically propositioned? (And by whom?)
Sookie and Eric have an absurd amount of sex, not that he remembers any of it.
–Does anyone wind up dead?
Some witches. Chow, the second of Fangtasia’s bartenders to bite it, no pun intended, in Sookie’s presence. And I feel like I’m missing someone… oh yeah, Debbie Pelt gets a shotgun at short range in Sookie’s kitchen, goodbye, Debbie.
–Does Sookie get injured in some capacity?
In Sookie’s words: “I’m not hurt, not really. . . . I mean, I got shoved around a lot, and choked a little maybe, and snapped at, but no one hit me!” Live the dream, Sook.
–Is Andy Bellefleur a pain in the ass?
Andy is mostly helpful in the search for Jason, but he isn’t particularly kind.
–Sookie Paramours: Who Wore It Best?
After breaking up with Bill, it’s good that Sookie gets a nice rebound, but it’s unfortunate for everyone that Eric isn’t really Eric here, just a neutered sort of version. It works for the sort of relationship Sookie really wants, but even she acknowledges that Eric isn’t really Eric, and the real Eric is a fun sort.
WHEN NEXT WE MEET, arson, assassination, a sniper, and a pirate.