Thursday, 16 May 2013
#CBR5 Book 52. "Dead Ever After" by Charlaine Harris
Rating: 3 stars
This is the thirteenth and final (whoo!) Sookie Stackhouse novel, the series on which the HBO series True Blood is now only extremely loosely based. This is absolutely NOT the best place to start if you've not read the books before. Better go back to the beginning and start with Dead Until Dark. This review will also contain spoilers for the ending of book 12: Deadlocked, so if you want to avoid that sort of thing, look away now.
Still here - then spoilers be on your own head. After literally bringing Sam back from the dead at the end of the previous book, using her magical fairy artifact, Sookie was sort of hoping that he might at least be a bit grateful. Instead, he seems mostly out of it. Eric is furious with her, as she could have used her "make any wish" bling to get him out of his wedding contract with the Vampire Queen of Oklahoma. Now, when Sookie goes to try to talk to him about it, she gets banned from Fangtasia.
Soon Sookie has bigger worries than the fact that her boss and close friend seems to want to avoid her, and her imperious vampire husband is about to divorce her and marry another. Arlene, former barmaid at Merlotte's and once Sookie's good friend (until she tried to lure Sookie into the hands of people who wanted to crucify, torture and murder her), has been released from prison on bail, and arrives at the bar to ask for her job back. Now, the answer is clearly no, but the fact that she was seen storming out of the bar looking angry certainly doesn't help Sookie's case, when Arlene's body is found in the dumpster behind the bar, strangled with one of Ms. Stackhouse's scarves.
Sookie's only alibi is verified by a vampire, not something necessarily helpful in a court of law. Luckily, she has made a lot of influential and resourceful friends over the years, who all turn up to help her clear her name.
I honestly can't remember whether the early books in the series (which I started reading nearly ten years ago) went into quite as much tedious detail about every aspect of Sookie's life as these later ones do. In the last one, very little of any consequence happened, and I was ready to tear my hair out if I had to read more about how Sookie shopped for groceries and pottered about around her house. There is still a fair bit of "and then I got dressed, and put on make-up and put my hair in a ponytail and drove to work" to this one, especially in the first half of the book, but there is also clearly a tying off of threads, and closing doors and saying goodbye to all the various characters in these books.
There are a lot of very angry fans out there on Goodreads and Amazon. So many people feel cheated by the way Harris chose to end her series. Frankly, after the last book, I was pretty much determined to read this book just out of stubbornness, because I'd stuck with the previous twelve. I don't want to spoil the ending (there's more than enough sites out there on the internet that will, though), but I can tell you that it didn't end, as I'd hoped, with Sookie simply choosing herself. God forbid that a woman in a paranormal fantasy series come to the conclusion that she's actually fine on her own, without a man to lean on. I can see why some people are pissed off, but considering the way the character development of certain prominent characters have been handled in the last few books, there really wasn't any other way for this to go. I'm sorry there wasn't more Pam in the book, she's always been my favourite character. All in all, I'm just glad the series didn't end with Deadlocked, and went out on a bit more of a high note.
And with that, I finish second in the race to complete the first 52 books of the CBR5, after the incomparable Jen K. Let's see if I can beat her to 104, shall we?