Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review of Charlaine Harris's 'Dead Ever After' *Spoilers*

Title: Dead Ever After
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #13
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

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.

About Author:

Charlaine Harris has been a published novelist for over twenty-five years. A native of the Mississippi Delta, she grew up in the middle of a cotton field. Now she lives in southern Arkansas with her husband, her three children, three dogs, and a duck. The duck stays outside.
Though her early output consisted largely of ghost stories, by the time she hit college (Rhodes, in Memphis) Charlaine was writing poetry and plays. After holding down some low-level jobs, she had the opportunity to stay home and write, and the resulting two stand-alones were published by Houghton Mifflin. After a child-producing sabbatical, Charlaine latched on to the trend of writing mystery series, and soon had her own traditional books about a Georgia librarian, Aurora Teagarden. Her first Teagarden, Real Murders, garnered an Agatha nomination.

Soon Charlaine was looking for another challenge, and the result was the much darker Lily Bard series. The books, set in Shakespeare, Arkansas, feature a heroine who has survived a terrible attack and is learning to live with its consequences. 

When Charlaine began to realize that neither of those series was ever going to set the literary world on fire, she regrouped and decided to write the book she’d always wanted to write. Not a traditional mystery, nor yet pure science fiction or romance, Dead Until Dark broke genre boundaries to appeal to a wide audience of people who just enjoy a good adventure. Each subsequent book about Sookie Stackhouse, telepathic Louisiana barmaid and friend to vampires, werewolves, and various other odd creatures, has drawn more readers. The Southern Vampire books are published in Japan, Great Britain, Greece, Germany, Thailand, Spain, France, and Russia.

In addition to Sookie, Charlaine has another heroine with a strange ability. Harper Connelly, lightning-struck and strange, can find corpses… and that’s how she makes her living.

In addition to her work as a writer, Charlaine is the past senior warden of St. James Episcopal Church, a board member of Mystery Writers of America, a past board member of Sisters in Crime, a member of the American Crime Writers League, and past president of the Arkansas Mystery Writers Alliance. She spends her "spare" time reading, watching her daughter play sports, traveling, and going to the movies.

My Review (Contains Spoilers):
I pre-ordered a signed copy of Dead Ever After in March, but put off reading it until a couple of weeks ago. I was REALLY excited for this book, but then the reviews started rolling in condemning it and I got nervous. I managed to avoid any spoilers, but knew it was only a matter of time before something trickled in about the ending of this series that is incredibly close to my heart. After finally reading it I have one question, what the hell is wrong with everyone? I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had its weak points, but it brought back a lot of my favorite characters and ended exactly how I thought it should. 

The book picks up the morning after Sookie brought Sam back to life with the cluviel dor. At this point Sam is acting detached, Sookie has no idea where things stand with Eric or the local vampires, and she's doing a lot of waiting around. Things pick up when Sookie starts spending time with Tara and eventually goes back into work. Once she gets back to the bar she finds the body of Arlene in the Merlotte's dumpster and soon learns the body has Sookie's scarf tied around the neck. Sookie finally gets in touch with Eric at which point things are finally ended between them for good. Shortly there after Sookie is arrested for Arlene's murder. She gets bailed out and  starts working on finding the real killer to clear her name. A lot of friendly faces from Sookie's past turn up to help find out who the not so friendly faces from her past are who are setting her up. Ultimately it all gets worked out and Sookie sort of ends up with Sam. They sleep together once and she decides to take things slow after that since she just ended things with Eric. It basically ends with Sookie thinking that she could easily imagine spending the rest of her life with Sam, but if things don't work out for them she knows that she'll be alright. 

I'm going to jump into the hotly debated issue of who Sookie ends up with. It seems the whole world thought she should have ended up with Eric or Bill, but to me that just wouldn't have made sense. Vampires live forever! That alone is a pretty good reason as to why it never could have worked unless Sookie decided to become a vampire too, which she would never have chosen. There's also the issue of children. I know that she hadn't really thought about having kids, but she would be a great mother and with the importance she places on family it would only be a matter of time before she would want to have kids. I think Sam was the perfect choice for her. I had always figured she would end up with him in the end. He's the one guy that has not only always been there for her with no expectations, but he can also be everything she needs. She can't really read his mind because he's a shifter, but other than that he's not so different from a regular person and he never has obnoxious ulterior motives. People need to realize no one can force characters to do what they want them to do, not even the writer. For Sookie to have made any other choice would be out of character for her. 

With that being said, I must admit this was not the strongest book in the series. The mystery wasn't very mysterious, and this was the first one to have small sections written in third person about characters other than Sookie. I didn't love the third person sections. They were a little strange and just not what I've come to expect in these books. They basically made it very clear who the bad guys were and took away from the overall story. 

I really enjoyed seeing some of my favorite characters that haven't been around in a while, both good and bad. A big theme in this book was the importance of friends, family, and community and how they show up and support you in your times of need. It was nice for Sookie to witness all the lives that she has touched and to see what a difference she has made to the various people she's met along the way. I think this was also a way to let the readers get to bid a lot of the bigger characters from Sookie's past farewell and I appreciated it. 

Charlaine Harris has stated that she ended the series in a way that was true to Sookie's character and I whole heartedly agree with that. This wasn't my favorite book in the series, but it is still a solid, true to form ending. For Sookie fans out there this is a must read. Don't believe all the bad things written about this book. 

My Rating:



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