Review: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Dead Ever After by Charlaine HarrisFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Series: Sookie Stackhouse, #13
Genre: Urban fantasy
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Number of pages: 352 pages
Publisher: Penguin Publishing
Formats available: ebook, paperback, hardcover, audiobook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK)

There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart….

Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…

My Thoughts:

“I’m Sookie Stackhouse. I belong here.” THE END.

Except for the capitalized end, Sookie pretty much declaring that there’s no place like home really is the last line of Dead Ever After. We just had to read through 13 books to get there.

dead until dark by Charlaine harrisWhat’s hard to believe is that in the Sookieverse, it’s only 2 years of her life, because it’s taken 12 years out of the rest of us. Dead Until Dark was unleashed on the world in 2001. Practically a whole lifetime ago.

Sookie’s lifetime, anyway. (If you’re searching for perspective, Harry Potter had found the Goblet of Fire, but had not yet joined the Order of the Phoenix. No Horcruxes were even on the bloody horizon in 2001. Dumbledore was still alive!)

Back to Sookie. In Dead Ever After, all of the chickens from all of Sookie’s previous outings come home to roost. Pretty much everyone she has ever met gets at least a mention.

Nearly all her old friends who are alive pay her a visit. Most of them come to support her in her hour of need. And does she ever have a need!

Because all her old enemies return to do her one final bad turn. Some of them want her very, very dead. And some of them want to hurt her so bad, she’ll just wish she was dead.

Every loose end that might possibly be left in Sookie’s story gets tied up tight, nearly in the shape of a handman’s noose around her neck.

And while Sookie investigates, not necessarily successfully, to figure out who her enemies are, she also figures out who her friends are. She has a lot more friends than she believed. Sookie has always sold herself short, never thinking that she had made as many friends as she has.

Most important of all, she finally grows a pair and protects her heart, instead of continuing to be Eric’s doormat. Eric has always put himself first, and it’s high time that Sookie did the same.

Verdict: The first books in the Sookie Stackhouse series were magical, because Sookie was on an incredible voyage of discovery. The last few have been kind of a chore, because Sookie let herself become dependent on Eric. She got weak and whiny and bitchy.

dead to the world by charlaine harrisThe only time I thought Eric really loved Sookie was when he had amnesia (Dead to the World) and forgot to be the manipulative bastard he really is. Otherwise, Eric puts Eric first. He always has and he always does. It’s a survival instinct that has kept him alive for more than a thousand years.

Here’s a question about vampire romances in general: what does someone who is over a thousand years old have in common with a 20-year-old? This isn’t about looks or possibly even brains, but what do they talk about? What are their shared experiences? Why would this relationship possibly work?

How could Sookie ever be anything except a subordinate (and I don’t mean this in a sexual context necessarily)? Even if Eric turned her, which she expressly did not want, it would be centuries before she acquired enough experience to approach a level of equality. And, as was shown in Club Dead, the vampire who sires another vampire has control over that vampire for the rest of their unnatural lives. If Eric had turned Sookie, he would always be in control of her and their relationship.

Sookie started the books as an independent person. The one being in her life for whom she continually made excuses and ceded that independence was Eric. I wish she’d kicked him to the curb sooner.

The double-mystery that sets this story in motion is a little weak. It mostly provided an excuse to “get the band back together” and have everyone that Sookie has ever met parade through her life one last time. I’m almost certain that every living or unliving soul that Sookie has crossed paths with got a mention except Bubba.

But the point was to make sure that Sookie took stock and resolved all her issues with the supe community, and she does that. The mystery is just an excuse to put her in jeopardy, so the troops rally round.

Sookie also had the opportunity to choose between Eric, Bill and Sam. While admittedly she could have chosen to be happily single, that wasn’t likely to be a resolution for the story and it wouldn’t have tied up the romantic loose ends.

Eric wanted her to be his “piece on the side” while he married someone else. Bill wanted her to forgive him for deceiving her, for betraying her, and, let’s not forget, for raping her.

And Sam, a while back he made her half owner of his bar, because she’s been so supportive of him. She didn’t need to put in any money. Sam counted her sweat-equity and her support more than enough of a contribution.

I know who I’d pick. And I know who I wouldn’t choose if he were the last man or vampire on Earth.


I give  Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris 3 and 1/2 furry stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 5-12-13

Sunday PostHappy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

And welcome to the middle of May. Thank goodness the temperature has dropped back to Seattle normal, in the mid-60’s

This is our first Spring/Summer in Seattle. Apartments (and houses) do NOT have air conditioning here. Everyone says we don’t need it. Except last week, when Seattle and Phoenix were the two hottest cities in the continental US. And we DID.

Dead Every After by Charlaine HarrisIn book news, the Sookie Stackhouse series is over. I read Dead Ever After this week. I wasn’t planning to buy a copy, because the last few books weren’t all that fantastic, but then I read the screaming fits that people were having, and I decided not to wait.

The book is fair game. It’s entertainment, and it’s out there to be reviewed. (My review will be posted on Monday at Book Lovers Inc.) Some of the comments about egging Charlaine Harris’ house, and worse, seem one stake too far. (And no, we are not related.)

Bare It All by Lori FosterWinner Announcements:

Gina L. Maxwell Rules of Entanglement/Seducing Cinderella Swag Pack: Shelley Summers
Autographed copy of The Forever Knight by John Marco: Shelley Summers
The Magic Circle by Jenny Davidson: Erin Fender

Giveaways currently open:

Bare It All by Lori Foster (print copy/US only)
His Southern Temptation by Robin Covington (ebook copy/INT)

Wicked as She Wants by Delilah S. DawsonThis week’s recap:

B Review: The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance by Delilah S. Dawson
A- Review: Wicked As She Wants by Delilah S. Dawson
B+ Review: Bare It All by Lori Foster
Q&A with Author Lori Foster + Giveaway
B+ Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Interview with Author Robin Covington + Giveaway
C+ Review: Back on Track by Donna Cummings
Stacking the Shelves (44)

I’m going to try something different this week. Up til now, I’ve been listing the previous week’s posts (see above) and then burbling about the upcoming week’s posts. This time I’ll list the upcoming week. (It’s not as if I don’t know ;-)) Please let me know what you think in the comments.

The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh HanagarneReview: The Human Division by John Scalzi
Review: The Right Bride by Jennifer Ryan
Review: The Roots of Betrayal by James Forester (blog tour)
Review: Wife in Name Only by Hayson Manning
Review: The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne (author tour)

Josh Hanagarne will be in Seattle for his book tour next weekend, which is kind of cool. The title is not a joke, Josh really IS a librarian.

What are you looking forward to this week?

13 for 2013: A Baker’s Dozen of My Most Anticipated Reads

“Love looks forward, hate looks backward, and anxiety stalks NetGalley and Edelweiss for early review copies.” That is not the way the saying goes, but it works for me.

I’m also hoping that there will be review copies of the Spring books at least on the American Library Association Midwinter Exhibits floor–especially since I won’t need to worry about what I carry home with me. I’ll be home. The conference is here in Seattle this year.

So, what books are at the tippy top of my wishlist for 2013?

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris, otherwise known as Sookie Stackhouse’s last hurrah. Even though the last few books in the series haven’t been quite up to the high bar set by the early entries, I have to know how Sookie’s story ends. Don’t you?

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon is the 8th doorstop in her giant, world-traveling, era-spanning Outlander series. The series has been described as “historical fiction with a Moebius twist,” and that’s the best short summation I’ve read for the damn thing that makes any sense. What they are is the best way to lose about three days, every time there’s a new one–and I can’t wait.

The Second Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay. I’ll confess that I have this one because I did stalk NetGalley for months after reading The First Rule of Ten, but the official date of publication is January 1, 2013, so it’s on the list. Tenzing Norbu is interesting as a detective because he is just different enough to see the world slightly askew, and it helps him solve crimes. The world he solves crimes in is itself slightly askew. Of all the places for an ex-monk to end up, Hollywood? Really? Marvelous!

Cast in Sorrow by Michelle Sagara will be number 9 in her Chronicles of Elantra. I just finished book 8, Cast in Peril, last week, and I’m already jonesing for my next fix. It doesn’t help that Cast in Peril ended in the middle of a very dangerous journey, not that Kaylin ever manages to stay out of trouble for long. So this wait is even more cliffhanger-esque than normal.

Imager’s Battalion by L.E. Modesitt Jr. When I finished the first trilogy in Modesitt’s Imager Portfolio, I thought he was done. The story was marvelous, but his hero’s journey was over. Little did I know he had a prequel in mind. Quaeryt’s journey from bureaucratic aide to military leader reads a bit like Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. And that’s not bad company at all.

Untitled Psy-Changeling #12 by Nalini Singh. I hate this. The publisher and the author are being particularly coy about this one. Even the title is supposed to be a huge spoiler for some shocking secret mystery. As annoyed as I am about this, I adore the Psy-Changeling series, so I can’t wait for the book. Whatever it’s called.

Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French is the second book in French’s new mystery series featuring therapist Frieda Klein. Something about the first book, Blue Monday, absolutely grabbed me. I think it had to do with how much Klein wanted to keep the case at arm’s length, and how personal it all turned out to be.  Blue Monday was chilling and I want to see if Tuesday’s Gone is just as good.

One-Eyed Jack by Elizabeth Bear is something I’ve wanted for a long time, but never expected to see. It’s a continuation of her utterly wondrous Promethean Age series. The Promethean Age books were urban fantasy of the crossover school, something that isn’t done well nearly often enough. In the Promethean Age, Faerie exists alongside our world, and events can effect both, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Wicked as She Wants by Delilah S. Dawson is the second book in Dawson’s absolutely yummy Blud series. The first book, Wicked as They Come, was dark, creepy, sensual and extremely eerie. At the same time, the love story was hauntingly beautiful. And I want to see more bludbunnies. Any writer who can come up with piranha rabbits has to have more tricks up her sleeve.

Calculated in Death  and Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb. I still want to know how Nora Roberts does it. Calculated and Thankless are the two In Death books scheduled for 2013. I have a hard time believing that they are numbers 36 and 37 in the series. Odds are that one will be close to awesome, and one will be a visit with old friends, which is still not bad. I’m going to buy them both anyway and read them in one gulp the minute I get them.

The Human Division by John Scalzi is Scalzi’s first novel in his Old Man’s War universe since Zoe’s Tale in 2008. Old Man’s War is military science fiction, with a slice of social commentary, and just a hint of a love story. It’s also just plain awesome. And anything new by Scalzi is automatically great news. Even more fascinating, The Human Division is going to be released as a digital serial, starting in January. So the only question is whether I get it in bits, or do I wait for the finished novel? Or both?

Heart Fortune by Robin D. Owens is the twelfth book in Owens’ Celta series. In Celta, Robin D. Owens has created the kind of world that readers want to live on, as well as experience vicariously through her stories. I’ve read the entire Celta series, and they are one of the few romance series I’ve read that manages to make the “fated mate” concept work–probably because she occasionally subverts it.

Blood and Magick by James R. Tuck. This is the third book in the Deacon Chalk series, and I love them. I found Deacon because it’s getting to be too long a wait between Dresden Files books (and it looks like 2013 will be a year without Harry). Deacon Chalk mostly takes out his demons with guns. Lots and lots of guns. But he knows some on the side of the righteous, too. Deacon Chalk is urban fantasy of the purely kick-butt fun school.

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay will be my birthday present this year, or close enough. Kay writes fantasy mixed with a large helping of historical fiction. The result is a magical blending of history as it might have been. Beautiful, complex, breath-takingly poignant. Kay writes worlds of awe and wonder. I can’t wait to be awestruck again.

These are the books. For 2013 it seemed fitting to choose a baker’s dozen, or 13, books that  I’m looking forward to the most.

If you’re curious about what happened to last year’s “Anticipateds” stop by Book Lovers Inc. on Thursday.

What books are you looking forward to the most in 2013?

Review: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

I just finished, and by that I mean I finished it about an hour ago, Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris. Deadlocked is book 12, for anyone who doesn’t already know, in Harris’ quirky tale of the telepathic waitress in the fictional small-town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. It’s also a slightly alternate world where vampires are not only real, but everyone knows they’re real, because some enterprising inventor created a synthetic substitute for blood that allowed them to come out of the coffin.

And that’s where the fun began, in 2001, with Dead Until Dark. It has been mostly fun for those of us reading the series. It has not been fun for the heroine of this little tale, that telepathic waitress, Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie’s journey has been one crisis after another. The more she has learned about the world of the supernatural, the darker and more dangerous her life has become.

Be warned, Deadlocked is book 12 in an ongoing series. I will do my best not to include spoilers for Deadlocked, but there’s no reasonable way to say much about book 12 without spoiling something in books 1-11.

Deadlocked is the perfect title for this book, because Sookie’s life is deadlocked as the story opens. Eric Northman, her vampire lover, is the vampire “sheriff” of Shreveport and the surrounding area, including Bon Temps. However, his sire promised the Queen of Oklahoma that Eric would marry her, not long before the waste of space (I can’t type something disgusting enough) was killed. On Sookie’s front lawn.

Eric, Sookie, and Pam, Eric’s second-in-command, murdered the deputy of the King of Nevada. The man who Eric owes fealty to. The fact that the bastard was trying to kill them doesn’t matter. They should pay for his death. The King is in Shreveport to collect.

Sookie’s boss, and best friend, Sam Merlotte, is a were, a shapeshifter. His current girlfriend is second-in command of the local pack. Jannalyn hates Sookie, for no reason that Sookie can understand, except that Jannalyn thinks Sam and Sookie might be more than just friends. They’re not.

Then a girl dies. On Eric’s front yard this time. In the middle of a party. Just after he drank from her. It shouldn’t have anything to do with Sookie. But it does.

Her fae grandfather left her with a gift. It grants one wish, the wish of her heart. And everyone wants it. Or want her to use it.

Or wants her to die.

Escape Rating B: Too much of the first 2/3rds of the book is setup, and a lot of that setup involves Sookie’s situation just getting more and more, I want to say pitiful but that’s not quite it, let’s say worse, by the hour. Things shouldn’t be able to sink any lower, but they just keep heading downhill.

It is pretty obvious who the responsible parties are for everything that’s going wrong in Sookie’s universe. Why Sookie can’t see it, we’ll say dramatic license. The clues were pretty obvious and the herrings were very, very bright red.

On the other hand, the last third of the book saw the loose ends being knitted together. Every person, or at least every supernatural creature, who ever crossed Sookie’s path seems to be making a final appearance, a curtain call, one way or another. The author has announced that the next book will be the last in the series.

Lucky 13. How appropriate for a book about the creatures that go bump in the night. Or considering this series, maybe hump in the night is a better phrase.

A few notes on the audiobook version, read by Johanna Parker. Because the story is told from Sookie’s perspective, Ms. Parker is primarily voicing Sookie, although she does deepen her voice or drop her accent to represent the other characters when they speak. Her narration works because she is able to make herself sound like Sookie, at least to this listener. It sounds like Sookie is telling me her perspective on events as she is witnessing them. It’s marvelous. Occasionally, you want to slap her for concentrating on the wrong things, because you’re caught up in her telling you her story.

I just wish Sookie had gotten her act together sooner. She spends way too much of the book being passive. The narrator has a good handle on voicing Sookie’s inner dialogue. It would have made a better story if Sookie had less inner dialog and more outer action the first two thirds of the book.

On My Wishlist #7

On My Wishlist is currently hosted at Cosy Books, but was started at Book Chick City. It’s a way for us to share the books we’re wishing, wishing, wishing for, whether they’re already out (maybe long out) but we haven’t indulged ourselves yet, or they’re due sometime in the near or distant future, and we’re trying to resist purchasing them.

Or maybe resistance is futile, and they will be absorbed into our towering TBR piles.

Speaking of books where the resistance is probably futile, at least for me, it’s May, and that means its time for another installment of the Perils of Pauline…wait, scratch that, I meant another chapter in the continuing saga of the life of Sookie Stackhouse. It’s just not May without another Sookie book. This year Sookie is Deadlocked.

I think I’ve read an interview with Ms. Harris (unfortunately no relation at ALL) that there are a limited number of books left in this series. While I’m sad, it’s probably getting close to time. I’d rather be left wanting a little bit more, than watching the train wreck grind on a la Anita Blake.

The other book that I just plain want to read is Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck. All the reviews have been so awesome and I love urban fantasy. And, I miss Harry Dresden. I like the idea of reading an Urban Fantasy series with a male narrator again. Although it sounds like Deacon Chalk gets his act together considerably faster than Harry did, which is probably a good thing, Chalk’s circumstances start out way worse. Blood and Bullets is definitely different, but in good ways I want to sink my “teeth” into. But not like the were-spiders! Eeew.

So come on, share with group! What’s on your wishlist? Will you be able to resist bringing it home?


Heading towards darkness

Things are always darkest…just before they turn completely black.  And that is how urban fantasy series tend to go, at least based on recent reading.

I just finished the latest Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Reckoning, from Charlaine Harris.  And, I also just read the story Aftermath (from the Dresden Files anthology Side Jobs by Jim Butcher) that takes place a couple of hours after Changes.  And neither story is exactly what anyone would call lighthearted.

Urban fantasy has a pretty shady premise to begin with.  The myths and legends, the darkness under the stairs, the things that go bump in the night, are real.  Magic works.  But it’s not just Glinda the Good Witch who is alive and well, it’s also the troll under the bridge.   And there are more trolls under more bridges than good witches–or good wizards.

Sookie, in her very first outing, Dead until Dark, was a fresh voice.  Her point of view was frequently laugh-out-loud funny, even when she was laughing at herself.  But Sookie’s world started out very small, because the book, and the series, is about Sookie’s journey.  When she meets Vampire Bill, she discovers the world beyond Bon Temps, LA, and more important, it discovers her.  Her ability to read minds is a prize, a talent that can be used, and as she explores the greater world, she learns that it is a very dark and dangerous place.  She finds love, loses it, and finds it again.  And looks to be losing it again.  She learns that there are more dangerous things out there than she every imagined, and that she is becoming one of them.

Harry Dresden has always been the only wizard listed in the Chicago phone directory.  In Storm Front, the first book of the series, Dresden operates mostly as a private investigator, barely making enough money to scrape by.  In fact, he never seems to do much better than scrape by.  But he becomes much more than just a paranormal private investigator.  As the series progresses, Harry becomes more and more involved in both wizard politics and mob shenanigans in Chicago, as well as having issues with the Summer and Winter courts of the Fae.  As his power grows, so do the numbers and strength of his enemies.  In Changes, the latest book in the series, every enemy of Harry’s comes to get him, and every part of Harry’s life alters, seemingly not for the better.  The short story Aftermath, the last piece at the end of the Dresden Files collection Side Jobs, is seen from Karrin Murphy’s grief stricken point of view as she attempts to pick up the pieces of Harry’s supernatural gate-keeping in the wake of his apparent death.

There are similarities between the two series.  Both are told from the first person point of view.  When you read, you are in either Sookie’s or Harry’s headspace, seeing what they see, hearing what they hear, knowing what they think, but not knowing what anyone else thinks.  They have to be likeable characters, or it’s not possible to stick with the series.  Sookie laughs at herself and her telepathic ability, Harry has a fine line in sarcasm.  It makes both their internal voices extremely funny, even if under some circumstances it’s gallows humor, sometimes literally.  Urban fantasy is a second-cousin to horror–there is a lot of death to deal with, and sometimes Sookie or especially Harry are its instrument.

They both regularly consort with vampires.  Two of Sookie’s lovers are vampires, as is Harry’s brother.  Vampire politics are always… complicated.  Something about living for hundreds of years seems to demand convolution in political relationships.  But long term series have to progress in some way, or get stale.  When it’s a cozy mystery in a small town, although it is nice to find out what all your favorite characters have been up to, one does start to wonder if the dead bodies are starting to outnumber the living!

In an urban fantasy, the hero or heroine is usually in the process of either discovering their power or discovering the true strangeness of the world around them.  As the world gets stranger, then what?  In Sookie’s case, things get more dangerous.  She gets deeper into the netherworld of vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, fae.  The more she learns, the darker the books get.  Dead Reckoning does not have a happy ending.  Or, to use a different metaphor, eating the apple from the Tree of Knowledge caused the exit from Eden, not the entrance.

The more Harry develops his power, the more dangerous he becomes.  In order for him to be challenged, his enemies must also become more deadly.  This does not a happy ending make.  The upcoming book in the series is titled Ghost Story, and it looks a LOT like Harry is the titular ghost.

Yet another book to be read with the lights on.  I can hardly wait!