All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris. Review by Violet Kane

Book Cover

In Print
As Charlaine Harris is one of the major authors in the newly popular genres of urban and romantic fantasy, I knew after seeing her on the bestseller lists that she would be a must-read for any conscientious SFF magazine editor. But seeing as that she's a major author in the newly popular genre of romantic fantasy, I was wary. Despite some inevitable genre trappings, however, I must say that I enjoyed this book more than I expected to.

Human telepath Sookie Stackhouse finds herself, at the beginning of this novel, enlisted by her powerful Louisiana vampire associates to serve as witness for their queen in a trial to be held at an upcoming conference of vampire royalty from across the United States. This conference is of particular significance to the vampires in Sookie's state of Louisiana because of the devastation of hurricane Katrina; if the trial goes badly for the Queen of Louisiana she'll find herself in danger and her State vulnerable to takeover. Meanwhile, Sookie finds her romantic involvement with Quinn, a were-tiger and master of ceremonies at the conference, growing more intense. But can their romance survive the power-plays of the vampires at the conference, and moreover can either of them survive without getting caught in the quite-literal cross-fire of internal vampire feuds and conservative anti-vamp splinter groups amongst the human population?

Book Cover

On Audio
There are, of course, a lot of predictable formulaic turns in this book. The vampire conflicts, alone, fill the genre formula quota; also the love relationship between Sookie and Quinn does not follow a terribly surprising path. The vampire plot and the romantic plot combine to create situations where dangerous situations intensify the relationship—I've seen it a million times before. Yet, there was something different about this novel. The over-arching plot was not, in fact, predictable, despite the number of tired tropes one runs into along the way. And while it may sound like a cliché, the sassy heroine Sookie is actually quite likeable. Her sassiness is not trite, but endearingly balanced with a more complex characterization. The overall plot may not be character-driven, but the characters do push things forward a lot of the time with their own decision-making and while there are elements of mystery and romance, the overall plot is not controlled by the formulas from either of these genres.

While the romantic genre elements and vampire clichés in this novel may very well be too much for a lot of SFF readers to take, it is not without redeeming qualities and is a rare treat for those of us who enjoy a guilty pleasure or two, but so seldom find anything tolerable among similar genre offerings.


Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.