I really liked "Dead Until Dark," the first of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, hated its sequel, and felt (thankfully) that the third book, "Club Dead," was almost as good as the first. But this fourth in the series is the one that's hooked me.
I love that Harris isn't afraid to shake things up and pull the rug out from under her characters (and the reader, by extension). In "Dead to the World," plot lines careen in unexpected directions, relationships end, new ones begin, people die in sudden, violent ways. It all adds up to a darker, more intense depiction of Sookie's world than we've seen before; and as she discovers the existence of stranger and stranger beings, and the stakes (no pun intended) get higher, the reading experience becomes richer.
Harris seems to have found her groove with the series, presenting the story in less comic book terms than she has before. There's a melancholy that permeates the book, giving it a weight and depth missing from earlier installments; which is not to say that her usual wit and naughty sense of humor aren't as hilariously in evidence. So, while I'm sorry for Sookie that her life is so up in the air, I'm very happy that Harris is back on solid ground.