Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

  • When purchased: Upon its May 2013 publication
  • Where: Online in e-book format
  • Why: I’ve read all of the previous novels in Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, so it seemed silly to stop before reading what has been advertised as the final one
  • How Read: In three painless sittings, the way guilty pleasures ought to be

A few admissions are in order before I offer my thoughts on Dead Ever After. First, I did not start reading Charlaine Harris’s books until after I’d watched the first season of True Blood. Second, I picked up the books in hopes they’d be as sexy and as clever as the early episodes of that Showtime series. Third, they were for a spell, then they weren’t. I was disappointed when the human-vampire interactions—both sexual and political—began to take a back seat to the misadventures of myriad supernatural characters, some of them frankly ridiculous. But I kept coming back.

Dead Ever After has helped me realize why: I get a kick out of Sookie Stackhouse. While not the most intellectual heroine (for example, she coats herself in baby oil before bathing in the Louisiana sun), she possesses a pleasing combination of native Southern wisdom and manners, and an abundance of pluck. She often appears to be little more than a damsel in distress because of her youth and simplicity, yet she’s always able to save herself from the most dangerous of situations. The thirteenth book in the series is no different. Sookie is targeted by an all-star team of her enemies, and she ultimately outwits them, in spite of grave physical peril. Sure, I also wanted to see if she gets Mr. Right. Without giving anything away, I will say that she acquires something even better than a mere romantic interest: she develops a true sense of herself and her place in the world.

I am still disappointed that Harris has eschewed the erotic elements that made the first several books such a pleasure to read. It almost seems as if she’s grown embarrassed to write detailed sexual encounters over the years. In fact, from a purely writing point of view, the quality of the Sookie Stackhouse books has decreased over time. I attribute that in part to the pressure of having to produce a book a year to keep dedicated fans—and the publisher’s pocketbook—happy. Of course, a series of novels about a telepath with fairy blood who falls for a couple of vampires and a weretiger was never going to be in contention for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

From the Stack to the…Bottom Shelf: I’d lend the entire series to a friend and wouldn’t mind if the books didn’t come back (most of my copies are paperbacks; I read only the last three installments in e-book form). I don’t really see myself re-reading these novels, unless I decide to write a series and want to bone up on how to handle recurring characters (something Harris is quite good at). Or unless I want to revisit some of the early steamier passages!

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