Monday, July 11, 2011

Read and React: Dead Until Dark, Part 6

Welcome, everyone to Part 6 of our Read & React!

There are spooky vampires in the woods, yet another murder victim, and Sookie has an epiphany, as we continue with Chapters 11 and 12 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.
Part 5 - Chapters 9 & 10.

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 day Sookie's co-workers are all sympathetic about the loss of her pet.  Arlene asks again if Sookie will babysit and Sookie takes it as an apology and agrees to watch the kids.  Later that evening Rene brings Cody and Lisa over to Sookie's house and then leaves to go pick up Arlene for their date.  Bill comes over later in the evening, and they play with the kids until Rene and Arlene arrive around 11pm to pick them up.  As Arlene is bundling the kids into the truck, a vampire friend of Bill's arrives, and Bill explains that he's asked his friend, Bubba, to watch Sookie's house at night, because he has to go out of town for a few days.  He refuses to tell her why, saying only that he'll explain everything when he returns from New Orleans, and that he'll miss her while he's gone.  She hugs him goodbye.

The next day at work when Arlene asks about Bubba, Sookie explains that Bill basically got her a bodyguard, and Arlene mentions how proud she is of Rene for being so polite to both Bill and Bubba, and goes on to explain that Rene has issues with vampires, because his little sister Cindy dated one for awhile, but the Cindy is OK now and Rene goes to visit her every other week or so.

The day stretches on.  At home that night Sookie feels restless and tries to call Jason, even calling Merlotte's to see if he is there.  Terry Bellefleur is tending bar, filling in for Sam, and tells her that he hasn't seen Jason all evening; but then a short while later Terry calls her back and tells her that Jason just came in and wants Sookie to come down to the bar so he can buy her a drink.  At first she's not sure that she should leave the house now that it's dark, but decides it'll be all right, as Bubba is watching the house.

But when she arrives at the bar, Terry insists that he hasn't seen Jason all night and even denies calling her back.  Bewildered, she heads back to her car to drive home and finds a collie behind the bar by the dumpster, and on an impulse decides that since it seems like a nice dog, she'll take it home and feed it.  At home again, with the house locked up tight, Sookie and "Dean" the collie get ready for bed, and when Dean tries to sleep on the bed, she exiles him to the floor.

But the next morning she wakes to find the dog in bed with her and its' arm around her waist.
"His arm?  I was off the bed and shrieking in one move.  In my bed, Sam propped himself up on his elbows, sunny side up, and look at me with some amusement. "Oh, ohmyGod!  Sam, how'd you get here?  Where's Dean?"  I covered my face with my hands and turned my back, but I'd certainly seen all there was to see of Sam.

"Woof," said Sam, from a human throat, and the truth stomped over me in combat boots."
Sam explains that he is a shape-shifter, and can change into any animal he sees.  He says he wants to protect her, and didn't think she should be alone at night. He tells her he wants her to know the truth about him, and as she was dealing with Bill so well he thought it was time to let her in on his secret.
"But what you are," I said abruptly, "can't be explained by a virus!  I mean, you utterly change!" 

He didn't say anything.

"Being a shape-shifter is definitely supernatural.  If that is, then other things can be.  So...Bill hasn't got a virus at all.  Being a vampire can't be explained by an allergy to silver or garlic or sunlight...that's just so much bullshit the vampires are spreading around, propaganda, you might they can be more easily accepted, as sufferers from a terrible disease. But really they're...they're really..." 

"Yeah," Sam said from the doorway, his voice sad.  "I'm sorry Sookie.  But Bill doesn't just have a virus.  He's really really dead."
They begin the process of getting dressed, and finding clothes for Sam to wear, and Sookie hears a car outside.  Sam changes back into a dog just as Andy Bellefleur arrives at the door with bad news - there's been another murder, a young woman named Amy, and her death was just like the others, only her bite marks are newer.  Andy wants to know where Bill is and if Sookie has heard from Jason.  He's dead on his feet from exhaustion, and Sookie convinces him to take a nap in her spare bedroom before he falls asleep in his car and kills someone.  She promises to wake him in a few hours, and hurries Sam out to her car and drives him back to Merlotte's, where they find Jason, unconscious in his truck behind the bar.  The inside of his truck reeks of blood, sex, and alcohol, and there's a video tape on the dashboard.  Sookie insists they call an ambulance against Sam's advice, and she follows him to the hospital.  But the doctor just sends her home, promising to call her as soon as Jason wakes up, so she goes home to wake Andy as she promised.

But when she arrives home Andy has already left, and she later finds out that he was at the hospital at the same time she was, just waiting for her to leave before he handcuffed Jason to the bed.


Sam, Sam, Sammy, Sam!  So you are a shifter!  This explains much, especially why he can keep Sookie out of his head, even when she's trying to get in.  And why there's always a collie hanging around the bar that I never felt was important enough to comment on in the past.  But does anyone else think his timing stinks?  I mean, I know he has Sookie's best interest at heart, and he's a good guy, and I admire him for wanting to be honest, I really do.  But his whole confession felt less like a confession and more like an easy way to force Sookie to face the truth about Bill.

Who apparently doesn't actually have a virus!  What?  No!  Say it ain't so!!  He's dead?  Really, really, truly dead?  I'm shocked y'all, just shocked!

Jason totally and obviously being set up, with the whole video in the truck covered in blood thing.  Which just as obviously means that Andy won't see the set up and will just pounce on Jason to be the murderer.  I'm beginning to see why Bill doesn't care for the Bellefleurs...

Chapter 12

What Happens:

Sam tells Sookie later in the day that the police intend to arrest Jason as soon as he wakes up.  Sookie refuses to believe that he could be guilty of killing his own grandmother, and she calls the vampire hotel in New Orleans where Bill is supposed to be staying and leaves a message for him to come home as soon as he can.

When Jason does regain consciousness later that afternoon, he is arrested after admitting that he'd had sex with Amy the night before, but he doesn't remember anything that happened after that.

That night, Sookie is awakened in the night by Bubba screaming at someone who is prowling around the house, but the prowler manages to get away without Bubba seeing his face.

Jason makes bail the next day, but is too embarrassed to talk to Sookie.  She goes to Merlotte's and sits at the bar all day, listening to the thoughts of everyone who comes in.  At one point Rene and Hoyt come in, but turn around and leave as soon as they see her, and she thinks that everyone is too embarrassed to talk to her, being unsure of what to say.  Finally, just before sunset, Sam tells her to go home, claiming that she's creeping everyone out.

She goes home, and is getting changed for bed when she hears a yowling sound from outside, then silence.  She opens the door and calls out for Bubba, but gets no response.  The woods are quiet, and she realizes that someone is prowling through the woods.  She tries to call the police, but her phone line is dead.

She stops and thinks for a moment and decides her chances are better outside in the dark, rather than waiting inside for whoever is out there to come in.  She grabs Bill's house key and a pocket knife, and then goes to the coat closet to get Gran's rifle, only to find that it isn't there.  Someone has been in the house and taken it.

Pondering on who might have had access to the house, she moves to the back door and sneaks out towards the woods.  She just makes the treeline when she hears someone crashing through the underbrush towards her, and she hides in a tree, silently watching a man glide through the trees below her with a length of cord dangling from his wrist.  Even though the moon is full, she never quite sees his face.

Once he has gone she climbs down and begins making her way towards the cemetery and Bill's house.  As she moves through the woods, she finds a dead cat, and a few feet further she finds Bubba, either dead or unconscious, she can't tell which, and decides the cat must have been drugged and brought here by the killer.  In the woods behind her she hears a twig snap, and she ducks behind a tree, into the shadows, and closes her eyes and reaches out with her mind to find his thoughts.
"Dark tangle, red, black.  Hate. 

Into my head poured images that made me sick, made me terrified.  Dawn, asking someone to punch her, then finding out that he'd got one of her hose in his hand, was stretching it between his fingers, preparing to tighten it around her neck.  A flash of Maudette, naked and begging.  A woman I'd never seen, her bare back to me, bruises and welts covering it.  Then my grandmother - my grandmother - in our familiar kitchen, angry and fighting for her life.  I was paralyzed by the shock of it, the horror of it.  whose thoughts were these?  I had an image of Arlene's kids, playing on my living room floor; I saw myself, and I didn't look like the person I saw in my own mirror.  I had huge holes in my neck, and I was lewd; I had a knowing leer on my face, and I patted the inside of my thigh suggestively. 

I was in the mind of Rene Lenier. 

This was how Rene saw me."
Suddenly she realizes that he is seeing the outline of her body against the tree, and she runs for the cemetery, dodging among the headstones and statues, trying to lose the Rene.  She hides among the tombs and reads him again, learning that his sister Cindy was the first one he killed and raped.  While she sorts through his mind, he catches her and hits her in the face, and breaks her collarbone.  They struggle and fight in the moonlight, and she is suddenly thankful for all the vampire blood she's had the last few days which has made her stronger.  As they grapple on the ground she feels the knife on his belt, pulls it and stabs him in the gut with it, backing away as he screams and swears at her, stumbling around in circles.  She waits until he falls to the ground and then runs to Bill's house, calls 9-1-1, and faints.

She wakes up in the hospital, and Andy comes in and tells her that they found Rene in the cemetery, and that Rene has confessed to everything.  Jason comes by to to thank her and apologize for not being there for her.  Her body is a mass of bruises and broken bones, and she sleeps and wakes, and sleeps again.  Then Bill is there.

He wants to give her his blood again to heal her, but she thinks about how much his blood has changed her and refuses.  Bill then tells her that he was in New Orleans campaigning for a political position in the vampire hierarchy, and won.  He is now the Official 5th Area Investigator, which he thinks should help keep them both safe from Eric.  She makes him promise not to kill Rene, and he agrees, even though he wants to very badly.

Just then a collie trots into the room and looks around with a soft woof and turns away.  Bill looks up in surprise, and Sookie glances out the window at the full moon, and notices Eric's very white face floating near the window peeking in at her.
"Soon we'll be back to normal," Bill said, laying me down gently so he could switch out the light in the bathroom. 

He glowed in the dark. 

"Right," I whispered.  "Yeah.  Back to normal."


So, OK, everybody who never read the book before or saw True Blood, raise your had if you suspected Rene.  I didn't really.  He's such a non-character character that I was a little bit surprised that it was him.  Especially with Arlene dating him!  Apparently she can really pick 'em!

I like that Sookie was all strong and self-reliant and saved herself, instead of waiting for some big, strong, supernatural man to rush in and save her!  She doesn't always come across as very strong in this book, but towards the end I think she really grew into her strength!  I like that...

Differences Between the Book and True Blood:

  • I still miss Tara and Lafayette.  Mostly Lafayette...
  • The murderer was the same in both the show and the book, but in the show Rene attacks her in broad daylight, which causes Bill severe harm in trying to reach her to save her, and Sam arrives and helps her bury a naked and badly sunburned Bill.
  • The whole last scene in the hospital didn't happen in the show, but I liked it, so I'm glad it was in the book.  Her remark at the end was priceless!
And thus we arrive at the end.  I hope that you've enjoyed this experiment as much as I have.
I always look forward to reading other perspectives, so please leave YOUR commentary below!  Thanks for joining, and I hope that you enjoyed my Read & React of...



  1. Woohoo! The end of the book! These last chapters flew! Could not put the book down!

    1) I don't get why Arlene is suddenly fine with Bill when just the day before she wasn't.
    2) Um Bill, you can't have a relationship without communication and honesty!
    3) Is Bubba suppose to be a vampire Elvis?
    4) Its a little concerning that Bill would trust Sookie's saftey to Bubba.
    5) its a good idea to bring the dog home, maybe sookie should get a dog.
    6) OMG! Hahahah Naughty Sam watched sookie strip! Its like a whole new breed of peeping tom!
    7) It takes her that long to figure out the bill is really dead?! What about finding him in the grave yard!!
    8)Why does andy come to her house to tell her? There are such things as phones! And if there is a murderer in town do you just let people stay in your house?!
    9) Geeze Jason you really didn't get the brains of the family did you? He looks really stupid but I think he is too dumb to pull off so many murders
    10) Well at least Bubba scared the person away but come on he is a vampire, shouldn't he have been able to catch the person?
    11) OMG! Taking a chance in the woods?! Seriously why didn't you think of the gun until now?!
    12) Wow, Rene, such an evil evil man, so close to sookie's family and friends!
    13) How on earth can she fight with a broken collar bone?! And why did she reach for his knife and not her own, which she probably should have had ready.
    14) Why wouldn't rene have cut the phone lines to bill's house too? He should have known thats where she would run.
    15) At least she is thinking even in her pain and drugged state and refused bill's blood.
    16)Super creepy Eric! Super Creepy!

    I have already downloaded the second book and can't wait to start it!

  2. @~Ang Hiya! I do think that "Bubba" is supposed to be Elvis. And you're right, he should have been able to catch the prowler, except I think the reason he didn't is maybe he doesn't have the super-speed thing, since something went wrong when he became a vampire? Maybe? I dunno...

    I really enjoyed the story in general, but you hit the nail on the head with two of my main problems with the story:
    1. Extraneous characters that don't seem to have any reason for being there (JB? Harlen? Bubba?)
    2. People are doing things that they wouldn't normally do. Maybe it has something to do with the rural-country lifestyle, but why spend all that time driving back and forth when a phone call would do. Granted police like to ask questions in person to see reactions, but then is he really gonna take a nap in the house of someone he has recently considered a suspect?

  3. Yay! You reached the end - I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

    Bubba becomes more significant in later books, so he really just gets his foot in the door in the first book to set things up for later, as it were.

    Andy Bellefleur, well, he's not exactly the sharpest knife in the kitchen and is quite easily led. He's also incredibly stubborn and once he gets an idea in his head, he won't let go of it, even when it's painfully obvious to everyone else that he has it wrong. It makes for some great tension between the Bill and the Bellefleurs though. ;)

    And Sam, ah, Sam! You wonderful shifter, you! I think Sam just forces Sookie to face what she already knows in her heart of hearts - that vampires are dead, not suffering from a virus. People will believe what they want to if it takes their minds off an unpleasant truth, but I don't think it came as such a surprise as she lets on - it's the sudden realisation that she knows it anyway...

    At this point, I still really wanted Sookie and Sam to end up together - he obviously cares very deeply for her and wants to look out for her and protect her, but without sheltering her from the truth. Although his timing has sucked royally in revealing his feelings to her, and I think he went about revealing his shifter status to her in the wrong way, he really does want what's best for her and I think he just wants her to have all the available facts before making a decision that could ultimately ruin her life. Sam really tries to be open with Sookie, something Bill doesn't always do, and surely that would make for a much healthier relationship in the long run...

    I hope you'll read and react to the rest of the series - I've enjoyed this a lot! :)

  4. @diaryofadomesticgoddess Hiya Goddess! And thank you for your kind words - I probably will get around to reading the rest of the series, but I haven't decided if I want to do another Read & React yet - it was fun, but a lot of work. Maybe after summer is over and I have more time?

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, even though it didn't get quite the response I was hoping for, but at least you and ~Ang joined in with a little bit of discussion! So I guess we'll see - stay tuned!!