Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (No.13 in the Sookie Stackhouse series)

Just finished reading Dead Ever After, the 13th and final instalment of the Sookie Stackhouse novels brought to us by Charlaine Harris.  Over the years this has been a sort of guilty indulgence type of read to be honest and whilst there’s always a tiny bit of me that feels sad at the end of the series in this case I’m actually ready for this series to conclude.  Personally I was beginning to feel like it’d gone as far as it was ever going to and was starting to feel a little bit jaded and I wanted an ending of some description or other.  That being said this has been inventive, fun and enjoyable to read.  Obviously with 13 novels you’ll like some of the stories more than others and this final instalment was no exception.  From this point onwards this review will undoubtedly contain spoilers so be aware of that before reading further.  You have been warned.

As the jacket states, Sookie has put up with many trials over the years.  She’s certainly made no shortage of enemies along the way and this story is about to see a convergence of would-be-Sookie-murderers with vengeance on their mind.  Of course this gives the author the perfect opportunity to tie up many loose ends, bring a number of friends and enemies from previous novels back together and of course gives Sookie a perfect ending with a white picket fence!  End of review.  Okay, not really.

To be honest, I wasn’t in love with this particular book but it hasn’t made me dislike the series as a whole.  It’s just a blimp – a bit unfortunate that it came at the end when what you’re really looking for is a grand finale with impressive fireworks but nonetheless it is what it is! Plus, I can’t deny that all the books are very readable and Sookie is easy to hang out with – she’s not going to split the atom or reinvent the wheel any time soon but but she’s low maintenance in terms of brain drain!

In this particular episode Sookie will see a number of assassination attempts, be suspected of murder and see her friends and members of the community rally to her side.  She has a lot of personal issues going on.  Not least the fact that Eric has not forgiven her for events in the previous novel and not only is he not seeing her but he’s all set to leave town and become consort to a vampire queen.  Now, as far as I was concerned I wasn’t particularly under any illusions about which way Harris was going to take this story – otherwise Sookie would have used her ‘one wish’ in a completely different way at the end of the last novel.  Having chosen not to do so of course it set us on the path of what to actually expect.

I think my main issue with this instalment was that it felt like Harris had come to the end of her own patience with the series.  I will explain myself with that remark.  A good author has the ability to make you fall for a character completely, to make you think he/she’s the bees knees and the camels hips – but then, in the next moment can make you turn about face and start to dislike that person and in that respect this series is no exception.   For example.  As Sookie’s first significant other we originally loved Bill – he was great, and, then, suddenly, he wasn’t.  He no longer seemed strong and chivalrous but weak, a bit sad and totally two faced.  We met other guys and as they arrived newly on the scene they all seemed great, and then slowly they also weren’t so great any more.  And then we had Eric, who, although he’d seemed not so nice in earlier instalments, suddenly became the next hot date who we all loved.   Then, in the last two novels Eric seemed to fall under the ‘no longer in favour’ banner.  His likability started to falter.  Mmm, did I detect the tell tale signs that we were soon going to start disliking Eric?  Then we have Sam, the one constant in terms of characterisation throughout the book, but who for me, never felt anything more than platonic and more like a best friend to Sookie.  So, yes, even though I thought this was the route we were going to go down and even though I didn’t really want to go down that route part of me thought Harris would pull it off and make us all suddenly see Sam in a new way.  Like, ‘wow, Sam, where have you been hiding for the past 12 novels?’  However, as it was there was no spark or chemistry.  It felt more like an acceptance of the ‘norm’ and a sigh of relief that it’s over.   (For that matter Sookie could have ended up single – what’s wrong with that after all?  She didn’t have to become involved with one of the characters we already knew about did she?)

Now that might all seem terribly critical so I’ll set the record straight.  I’ve enjoyed this series.  It’s had highs and lows.  It’s been very creative, dark in parts and we’ve had some rather ‘hot’ mind candy flitting across the pages (a six and a half foot, blond, badass Viking – need I say more?) And, because I started reading this series from it’s release I always looked forward to the next story that would come out – of course I had no idea that there would be 13 books in total and maybe I wouldn’t pick it up now with that knowledge but that’s the beauty of starting a thing from the beginning. You grow with the characters and it doesn’t feel like a duty but a pleasure and one that you come to look forward to.

So, in conclusion.  I guess I will miss Sookie but overall I’m not disappointed that the series has reached it’s end and I think the author has chosen a good point to conclude.  Yes,  I have mixed feelings about the conclusion but only in that I wanted to feel more strongly about it rather than an overall feeling of ‘meh’.   All in all though it’s been great entertainment value for which I thank Charlaine Harris.

Sookie has left the building…

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris, Book No.12 in the Sookie Stackhouse Trueblood series

Just finished reading Deadlocked.  No.12 in the Sookie Stackhouse series of books.  I have enjoyed this series of books, they’ve been good fun, there’s been plenty of action, romance and paranormals and it’s just felt like a lovely indulgent reading experience.  I must say however that No.12 was not my favourite by a long stretch of the imagination.

In this book Sookie and Eric’s relationship takes a bit of a nosedive – not helped by the fact that Sookie finds Eric red handed drinking blood from a woman who not long after appears to be dead on his front lawn.  There are as usual a number of threads going on in this story, things taking place in the fey world, Niall returns briefly.  Sam and Janalynn are still dating but everything isn’t quite as it should be.  Political intrigue and posturing in the vampire world and kidnapping and potential tortures taking place.

I wouldn’t say that this book is bad but just that I didn’t love it.  Basically we have a litle bit of this and that in terms of most of the supes involved in the series but there feels like very little in terms of a real story.  Sookie has definitely lost her mojo and we don’t see her usual humour bubbling on the surface.  There is a lot of reflection about relationships and we seem to be having the way paved for a final decision by Sookie which seems to be fairly clear (to me at least) at this stage.

Having said that, it was a really quick and easy read, but it definitely lulled in the middle and I could have put the book down at that point and probably not had much incentive to pick it back up.

I think what we have here really is a setter-upper type of novel.  It feels like this story is being used to tie up loose ends and set us up for the next book.

Hopefully the next one will return to form and bring us back the Sookie we’ve all come to enjoy reading about.

So, I didn’t think this was the best read ever.  It doesn’t really feel as though Ms Harris enjoyed writing this one somehow so maybe she’s ready to finally conclude Sookie’s story.  It won’t put me off reading the next book however.  At the end of the day we’re 12 books down the line here – I think I can definitely forgive this blip and I want to see what the conclusion will bring.

Deadlocked

Deadlocked

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, True Blood (No.11)

Just finished reading Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, Book No.11 in the Sookie Stackhouse books.  This review may contain spoilers (particularly if you haven’t read the earlier books already).

I do love this series of books, Sookie is such a readable character that I always enjoy spending time in Bon Temps. I won’t say that this is my favourite book of the series but it is very easy to get along with.  I think the past couple of novels are starting to move us in a different direction and I wonder whether Charlaine Harris is planning the end of her series.  This installment is certainly not fast paced, there are plenty of things going on but it all feels a little more ‘everyday’ if that’s possible in a world with vampires, werewolves, fey and other beings.

To quote amazon: “There’s a reckoning on the way . . . . . . and Sookie has a knack for being in trouble’s way; not least when she witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is known to be two-natured, suspicion immediately falls on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but before she can investigate something else – something even more dangerous – comes up. Sookie’s lover Eric Northman and his ‘child’ Pam are plotting something in secret. Whatever it is, they seem determined to keep Sookie out of it; almost as determined as Sookie is to find out what’s going on. She can’t sit on the sidelines when both her work and her love life under threat – but as she’s gradually drawn into their plans Sookie finds the situation is deadlier than she could ever have imagined. “

In terms of relationships, yes, Sookie is with Eric although they spent most of the novel displeased with each other for one reason or another.  Eric was tense throughout and was keeping a secret from Sookie, a secret that Pam wanted him to divulge.  This lead to all sorts of problems for the three.  So, although Eric and Sookie are together they’re not exactly basking in paradise.  Actually, I quite like the tension to be honest.  But, I wonder.  By the end of this novel I can’t help feeling that I’m getting tired of Sookie constantly being at the beck and call of all these other creatures who most of the time treat her like an inconvenience if they can even be bothered to acknowledge her at all that is!  She’s constantly in danger and has more enemies than you can shake a stick at (although she does manage to reduce the number slightly in this book).  The thing is Ms Harris is quite good at making me like who she wants me to, first Bill, then Alcide, then Eric – maybe we’re going to move on again – perhaps Sam??  Just a silly guess I suppose.

Also, she still has her cluviel dor – which you can’t help thinking is going to play a major role at some point unless it’s a wild red herring.

Anyway, overall a very enjoyable read if a little tamer than some.  I hope it’s not too long before the next I’m agog to know how this will ever end.

Rating B+

Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris, No.7 (True Blood)

All Together Dead picks up from the last novel.  Beware – this will contain spoilers so please do not read if you haven’t already read nos.1-6!!!

The Queen of Louisiana is accused of killing her husband and will stand trial at the Vampire Summit.  As the sole witness to the murder, and also being on the payroll of the vampires, Sookie will have to attend the Summit.  As will her ex, Bill, and the other complication in her life Eric.

This book is a great addition and moves the story forward and develops it further.  The story is much more political this time around and Sookie and Barry the Bellboy (from Dallas with the telepathic skills) band together to help each other out.  There is more intrigue and sub plots and sneaky underhanded double-dealing and back stabbing.  You also get a bit more of a look into ‘real’ vampire politics as you watch them mete out their own justice to misdemeanours between their own kind – and the kid gloves are off.

Sookie really comes into her own in this book, she shows her intelligence, she stands up for herself and the people she is working for and she really helps humans, vamps and weres.  She also starts to realise how very tentative her own situation is once the real extent of her talents is truly revealed.

I found this story different from the rest.  Apart from the fact that Sookie if away from her own town and Merlots and the usual cast of characters she is finally thrown into the full world of vampires.  Not just a few here and there and a couple of shapeshifters.  The Summit is a massive event with very few humans present.  It’s truly a new experience for Sookie and to be honest a little scary but she steps up and takes it on board.  The final event is very fast moving and dramatic.  At the culmination you can’t help feeling that the vampires are greatly indebted to Sookie and it remains to be seen if that will ever be acknowledged.

As I said there’s a lot of politcal intrigue in this book and a lot of characters.  The romance elements take a definite backseat, there is a little interaction, but nothing major.  Although Sookie came to the Summit as Quinn’s romantic interest I wasn’t really feeling it and it almost feels like a stepping stone as Sookie takes the next step.  Personally I think Sookie really likes Eric (and why wouldn’t she??).  Although all three of the men are really quite (very) likable – Quinn (loving the name Stripes), Bill (so old fashioned) and Eric (the Viking).  I know which I prefer!!  (And he’s tall and blond).

At least I don’t have to wait long to see what the next episode will bring and I’ll be moving straight on!

(Very minor criticism – considering events, not to mention their age and knowledge, the vampires have a deplorable lack of self preservation in this novel – at the end of the day they can be killed  – and yet they seem to be terribly blase about everything – especially when you consider the number of royalty attending the Summit).

Next book: From Dead to Worse

Rating A

All Together Dead

All Together Dead

 

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