Deadlocked is the twelfth novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, also known as the True Blood series after its television adaptation. Sookie is a waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana, and she is telepathic. After meeting vampire Bill Compton at the start of the series, she has been drawn further and further into the supernatural world, which of course presents plenty of dangers to her.
In Deadlocked, Sookie is still in a relationship with the local vampire sheriff, Eric, in fact in the eyes of the vampire community they are married. But all is not well for them, especially when Sookie finds Eric drinking from another human woman. This is the start of the story of Deadlocked, which of course involves danger for Sookie, and some convoluted plots from the various supernatural communities – vampire, were/shapeshifter, and fae.
It’s very difficult to summarise the story of a novel so far into a series, without also summarising the whole series so far. It’s also very difficult to summarise the story of a novel when so much has happened before it that you’ve forgotten an awful lot, and this means that the novel in question (Deadlocked in this case) doesn’t stick in your mind as much as it perhaps should. The Sookie Stackhouse novels are among my favourite supernatural books, but I really struggled with Deadlocked. The story is good, the characters well-written, and Sookie as sweet yet formidable as ever, but it’s been a year since the previous novel (Dead Reckoning) was published, and given how complex and wide-ranging the story and character base had become by that point, I found myself frequently trying to remember who was who and what had happened to them while I was reading Deadlocked.
Sookie is a great lead character, being a normal human girl in so many ways, but also so different due to her telepathy. She is easy to like and sympathise with, and she is also easy to identify with. She struggles to know the right thing to do, and struggles to live with the things she has been forced to do – she’s not so involved in the supernatural world that she can forget her human emotions and reactions.
One of the important features of the Sookie Stackhouse novels are that the characters remain consistent throughout the series. You won’t find them completely changing for no apparent reason. Picking up a new novel in the series is like returning to old friends – or old enemies, depending who you’re reading about.
Yet by Deadlocked, there are an awful lot of characters, plus there are characters who are mentioned who are no longer part of the story, for one reason or another. In the more recent novels there has been a focus on the fae characters, and Deadlocked is no different. This is actually the one element of the series that I’m unsure about. I don’t have a problem with the number of different creatures and races which inhabit the pages of Deadlocked, I’m just not a huge fan of the fae as characters. I don’t find them particularly endearing, but equally I can’t quite believe in their scary side. I would have been happier if they had been left as side characters, as they were when they were first introduced.
My difficulties in remembering what had gone previously was my biggest problem with Deadlocked however – the fae characters I can live with, forgetting past events I couldn’t. As a result, almost as soon as I finished reading Deadlocked I began to reread the series from the first novel, Dead Until Dark. In addition to helping me make sense of Deadlocked, it is helping me fall in love with the series again, which I was in danger of losing after my slight frustration over coming across things in Deadlocked which I couldn’t readily remember.
Whenever I review a novel which is part of a series (and not the first novel), I always recommend reading the series in order, even in cases where it might be easy to pick up what has gone on before. This really is imperative with Deadlocked – it is an enjoyable and well written installment in the Sookie Stackhouse, with all my favourite characters present and correct, but given that I have struggled with it, despite being a fan of the series, I think it is safe to say that anyone picking up Deadlocked without having read the earlier novels would be completely lost.
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