Thursday, July 7, 2011

Read and React: Dead Until Dark, Part 5

Welcome, everyone to Part 5 of our Read & React!

Get ready for some serious blood gushing, stolen money, and frightening moments, as we continue with Chapters 9 and 10 of Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris, which is the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  Please join me as I read (& react!) for the very first time to this highly praised novel.

Before we begin, a quick note on spoilers: There will be some (OK lots) - but only for the chapters actually covered in the post, and as we go on, the chapters that have been covered in previous weeks.  I may also make comparisons between the chapters covered and all seasons of HBO's adaptation of the series, True Blood.

As far as the comment section, please join in!!  I want to know what you think of my commentary, of the story itself, the characters, everything!  But if you've read the series before, or read ahead in this book, please don't let anything slip about what's coming up next!  Thanks in advance!

In case you missed them, here are the previous Read & React posts::
Part 1 - Chapters 1 & 2.
Part 2 - Chapters 3 & 4.
Part 3 - Chapters 5 & 6.
Part 4 - Chapters 7 & 8.

Now that all that's out of the way, make sure you have your wooden stake handy, and let's go!!


What Happens:

The next night Sookie spends an agonizing amount of time getting ready to go see Eric.  She wisely chooses a silver necklace to complete her look, and also grabs a scarf to tie around her neck in case they run into police who want to check her for fang marks.  Bill comes to pick her up after going somewhere else to feed.  Sookie doesn't like him feeding on anyone else (even though she also doesn't like him feeding on her too much), but she does understand the necessity.  After a tense and mostly silent drive they arrive in Shreveport and pull up behind Fangtasia, and enter through a service entrance in the alley.  Pam shows them to Eric's office, where Eric is waiting with a rather scared looking man named Bruce.  Pam moves to the back wall of the office where Long Shadow is waiting, and Bill joins them.  Eric explains to Sookie that someone has stolen $60,000 from the bar, and he wants Sookie to read Bruce's mind to see if he is the guilty party.

Sookie, afraid that Eric will just kill whoever is guilty, tries to bargain with Eric, promising that if Eric will actually turn over the thief to the police, then she will read minds for him whenever he wants.  Eric knows that he can force her to do it anyway, but she senses that he really wants to "mainstream" and doesn't want to kill anyone that he doesn't have to.  Suddenly Sookie is in his mind, a dark, murky, terrifying place, and quickly disengages.  Eric never really quite agrees to her deal, but she listens to Bruce's thoughts and determines that he doesn't know anything about the missing money, so Pam leads him out and brings another woman, Ginger, into the room.  When Sookie asks Ginger if she took the money, Ginger begins screaming and crying in pain, and Sookie realizes that she's had a compulsion laid on her so heavily that she can't even picture the face of the thief.  Pam takes Ginger away, and Sookie asks if Ginger had any friends, so Pam brings in another barmaid named Belinda.

This time Sookie doesn't ask about the money, merely asking Belinda which vampire Ginger has been seeing regularly.  She pulls the name from Belinda's mind, but before she can even utter his name, Long Shadow leaps across the office and pins Sookie to Eric's desk, trying to rips her throat out.
 "Suddenly (his eyes) dulled and seemed to almost flatten.  Blood gushed out of Long Shadow's mouth, bathing my arm.  It flowed into my open mouth, and I gagged.  His teeth relaxed, and his face fell in on itself.  It began to wrinkle.  His eyes turned into gelatinous pools.  Handfuls of his thick black hair fell on my face."
His body begins to smoke and decay as Bill grabs her by the shoulders and pull her away from the corpse, and she sees Eric standing over Long Shadow remains with a mallet, even as his body fades into wisps of smoke, leaving nothing behind but a scorch mark on the floor.

The room is deadly silent for a moment, and then Eric notices that she has blood on her face and asks if she swallowed any.  She suddenly realizes that the three remaining vampires are all in the throes of full-on blood lust, Eric smelling her scent, Bill ready to kill Eric, and Pam eying Belinda as if she were a snack.  Sookie manages to get Pam's attention, and once Pam realizes the seriousness of the situation she calls Ginger back in to distract Eric, while Sookie and Bill slip out of the office.  They get out to the car, and Bill is still all blood-lusty, but she finally gets him to snap out of it and drive her home.


Wow - so Bill seemed kinda slow on the uptake there, not really saving Sookie from death, or from a dry-cleaning bill either.  But, Way To Go, Eric! Staking your own employee / friend just to save the pretty telepath?  Priceless.  I'm liking him more and more.

Bill, you are now on notice that I don't really feel all that safe with you.  And neither should Sookie.

However - Sookie wins the "who has the biggest cojones?" competition by being the only one to keep her head on straight and keep everyone alive!  Well, everyone but Long Shadow, and really we didn't know him very well anyway, and apparently he's a thief, so, whatever.

Chapter 10

What Happens:

The next day, Sookie decides that she really needs to remind herself that she is human.  Maybe a slightly altered human, but still, a human.  When she first drank Bill's blood, it healed her, and the second time it made her stronger, but now with Long Shadow's blood in her, suddenly her teeth are whiter and sharper, her hair is blonder, and when she accidentally bench presses the couch while looking for spare change, she realizes that she's stronger, too.  Later that morning at work, while slicing fruit for the bar, Lafayette asks her if she colored her hair, and during the course of the 30 second conversation she slices and chopps an entire days' worth of lemons and limes.
"Lafayete was staring from my face to my hands.  "Tell me I didn't just see that, girlfriend," he suggested.  "You didn't," I said.  My voice was cool and level, I was surprised to note."
The lunch rush begins, and Sookie listens to thoughts as she does her work, as she had promised Jason she would.  She listens all day, and learns nothing about the murders.

Later in the evening, after her shift is done, she wanders around the house and decides to go back to the bar and listen some more to the evening crowd.  When she arrives at Merlotte's she sees Jason, and they chat about what she hasn't learned while they have a few drinks.  After a little while Bill arrives with a human woman, and Sookie gets jealous.  Bill explains that Eric had sent the woman to his house as a reward for bringing Sookie the previous evening, and also possibly as a test of his devotion to Sookie.  Bill insists on sending her back to Eric, and Jason offers to give her a ride home. 

After they leave, Bill asks Sookie to come back to his house and talk, but she refuses, instead taking him to the pond on the property that used to belong to her parents.  They discuss the events of the previous evening, and what it means for Sookie that she's now had vampire blood three times in such a short amount of time.

At last they drive to their respective homes, and Sookie carefully scans the yard and gets her house key ready before getting out of her car.  She runs to the house and inside, slamming the door and locking it behind her just as something hits the outside of the door with a loud thud.  She screams and runs to the phone and calls Bill, shouting that someone is outside her house.  Watching from behind a closed blind, she sees him arrive moments later and search the yard, and then come to the porch.  Sookie opens the door and sees Bill holding her cat, Tina, which has been apparently strangled to death.  Sookie feels the death of her pet almost as strongly as Gran's death, and together they bury Tina in the hole that she had dug to plant the tree in, and Bill stays with her until dawn.


Ok, you murderous bastard, killing Gran was bad enough, but killing Tina the Cat?  Now you've crossed the line, buddy!!  Your time will come, just you wait and see!!

Apparently Sookie needs to work on her "scanning the yard before she gets out of the car" superpower, as the killer was obviously fairly close by, and she saw nothing.  How creepy is that?!

Differences Between the Book and True Blood:

Pretty much we are still on track, although Chapter 9 is where we find our first major divergence:
  • In True Blood, Bill is the one who kills Long Shadow to save Sookie's life, beginning a major story arc resulting in Bill's punishment by the Magister for taking a vampire life, and being forced to create a new vampire, thus introducing young Jessica to the show.  Obviously that isn't happening here...
  • And also, the killer didn't just strangle the cat and throw it on the porch - he slit its' throat and tied it to the ceiling fan so that when she turned on the light it started spinning and flung blood all over the room.
    So, join me Monday for our final segment, Chapters 11 and 12!!  Until then, please leave YOUR commentary below!  But remember, if you've read ahead, don't spoil anything for those of us who haven't!  Thanks for joining, and we hope to see you for the next edition of...



    1. You're right - Jessica doesn't exist in the book, but was a nice addition to the show, I thought. I initially didn't think much of that change, but she grew on me really quickly.

      I LOVED that it was Eric who saved Sookie in the bar - it was the real start of my absolute adoration of him. Sure, he's dark and dangerous, but you tend to know where you stand with him. If he likes you or you are useful to him, then you're safe. At least until a time when you p*ss him off or you cease to be of any use. But at least you know that in advance!

    2. @diaryofadomesticgoddess I very much agree, goddess! I like the version where Eric saves her much better than Bill saving her - although I'm guessing this will give him some power or control over her at some future point. You know, "I saved your life, so now you owe me," kind of thing. Can't wait to see how that turns out!!

    3. Here are my thoughts on these two exciting chapters! This was the hardest point to put the book down!

      1) Not very smart to try to bargain with vampires.
      2) super scary that she was in Erics mind, did he let her in?
      3) Smart Sookie for asking for Ginger's friend and then not actually asking about the money, very clever
      4) I was all for Bill but he didn't save her, seemed really slow, only getting to her after Eric staked Long Shadow. Boo Bill, I was rooting for you!
      5) Holy Crud, scary tension! Thank goodness Pam snapped out of it!
      6) Yea good idea to stop drinking the blood and act human again.
      7) Maybe sookie should actually make an effort in acting human instead of chopping lemons and limes without looking!
      8) Good Bill for not taking Eric's girl, possibly bad Jason for taking her home.
      9) It was almost a normal date night after that, sitting by a pond, talking and the going home separately.
      10)Good think Bill is so close and super fast!
      11) I nearly cried when he held up Tina! Who would hurt a poor little cat?! I can totally understand why it was so emotional for sookie!