Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (ISBN 9780575096622, 352pp, May 2013)
Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (ISBN 9780575096622, 352pp, May 2013)

It’s all over. OVER! After years of dedicated reading, I’ve just finished the final Sookie Stackhouse book. Thirteen books and it’s finally done. Without wanting to spoil it for others, I know the ending I wanted and it is not the ending I got. But it was the ending that I knew was coming. It’s the ending that makes the most sense, but the ending that seems to have sent people on goodreads into the depths of despair.

I loved this series but only loyalty had me reading the last few books. The story seemed to lose its way in its quest to stretch out to thirteen installments. Still, I will remember all the great writing that had me eagerly anticipating each installment. Who would have thought that a waitress called Sookie Stackhouse with telepathic powers and a love of tanning could make such fantastic reading? Add in vampires, werewolves, fairies, maenads, witches, shapeshifters, werepanthers, weretigers, demons and zealots and it was a recipe for a whole lot of fun.

Thank goodness I still have the TrueBlood HBO series to watch or else I would be distraught about saying good-bye to Sookie.

 

Is the Sookie Stackhouse series Dead in the Water?

My stack of Sookie Stackhouse novels

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris is book twelve in the Sookie Stackhouse series. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, maybe you’ve heard of the HBO series TrueBlood? The Sookie Stackhouse books form the basis of this series. There are a lot of similarities between the two, but the TV series goes off into completely different storylines – sometimes better, sometimes worse. The point I’m trying to make in a convoluted way is that if you’ve seen the TV series and like it, you’ll also like the books. You can read these and be surprised by where they take you.

I’ve decided to write this review as more of a commentary on the series. It’s kind of hard to review book twelve when many of you may not have read the eleven books before it.

The books are set in a small southern town in Louisiana called Bon Temps. Vampires have just come out of the coffin the world over, thanks to the invention of a synthetic blood substance called TrueBlood. Now there is no need for them to feed off humans and they can take their place as members of society – albeit living dead ones. Of course there are vampires who aren’t too happy about being ‘outed’ and who continue to feed on humans. And there are a lot of humans who believe that the only good vampire is a staked vampire.

Sookie Stackhouse is a blonde-haired, feisty barmaid who knows what it’s like to be different. She has been telepathic her whole life and can hear the thoughts of all those around her. When vampire Bill walks into her bar and she can’t hear his thoughts, it’s the start of a whole new life for Sookie. She soon learns that not only do vampires exist, but werewolves, shape shifters, witches, demons and fairies as well. There’s a whole other world out there and soon Sookie is caught right in the middle of it.

What I love about these books – besides the imagination – is the interaction between characters. Charlaine Harris writes hilarious one-liners. Characters leap off the page. Imagination drips from every page. Plus there’s a mystery or two to solve in every book. The vamps in this series make the Cullens in Twilight look like the Brady Bunch.

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (ISBN: 9780575096585, 327 pages, Published May 2012, Hachette)

But as much as I love Charlaine Harris, she should have ended this series a couple of books ago. It is definitely Dead in the Water. Deadlocked just felt like every significant character that has ever been in the books, popped back into this plot for no other reason than a cameo appearance.

I also couldn’t remember what had happened in the last book, so spent the first half of this book a little confused. That’s the problem when you have a year between books. There were too many characters in this book and juggling them all together just didn’t work effectively. It’s a shame when one of your favourite authors disappoints you. I guess you have to know when to bow out gracefully.

Having said that, I still devoured this book and will read the next one. I read the other day that next year we’ll see the final book in the series. Sadly, I do think it is time to lay this series to rest. The end of this book also gives a big hint about what is next for Sookie.

Don’t be put off by this review and do sink your teeth into this series. Then come back and let me know if I judged this book too harshly.

Books to Get Excited About!!

I thought it was time to pause, take a breath and write down my reading intentions for the next few months. There are a lot of exciting books which have just been released or are soon to hit our shelves. From the follow-up book to Justin Cronin’s magnificent post-apocalyptic novel The Passage and big name authors Jodi Picoult and Philippa Gregory trying their hand at writing Young Adult books, to a couple of highly acclaimed books hitting my reading radar. It looks like I will be eating canned soup for a couple of months and blowing my pay on books!

Here’s my list in order of publication date*

Out now:

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman: This is the debut novel by an Australian author. I keep on reading rave reviews about it: reviews that don’t really give too much away. The average rating on goodreads is 4+ stars. The premise is that a husband and wife are living in a lighthouse on a remote island off Western Australia in the 1920s. They can’t have children and one day their prayers are answered when a dinghy washes up on the beach with a dead man and a crying baby inside it. They make a decision and years later the consequences of that decision is finally revealed. Sounds very mysterious!

I actually bought this book yesterday and am half-way through already. So far, so worthy of the accolades!

The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya: This book takes the Ancient Greek myth Antigone and casts it into modern-day Afghanistan. Following a night battle, a group of soldiers are confronted by a young woman, demanding the return of the body of her brother. Is she a grieving sister, a suicide bomber or a spy? And what will the soldiers decide?

Bitterblue

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore: I previously read Fire by this author and loved it. She creates strong female characters and the fantasy world they inhabit leaps off the page. This book is set in the same world as Fire and Graceling before it. Bitterblue is a Queen who has inherited a traumatised kingdom – thanks to her father’s mad reign. She starts sneaking out of the castle to walk amongst her people and to find out the truth about what’s still going on in the kingdom.

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris: Deadlocked is book 12 in the Sookie Stackhouse series – one of my favourite book series ever!  It has just been announced that book 13 will be the final book. It makes me sad to see the end of the adventures of Sookie and her vampire, werewolf, shapeshifter, witch and fairy friends, but it might be time to bow out before the series is dead in the water.

I just finished reading this book and will soon report my findings.

Out June 2012:

The Changeling

The Changeling by Philippa Gregory (author of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Red Queen, The White Queen and many more fantastic historical fiction books): This is Philippa’s first Young Adult book. It’s set in 15th century Italy in a time of great superstition and religious fervour. The story follows the travels of 17-year-old Luca as he is charged with investigating whether so-called miracles are the work of God or if they have more worldly origins. In his first investigation, he meets seventeen-year-old Isobel, a rich heiress sent to an Abbey by her brother after refusing to marry the husband of his choosing. The nuns in the Abbey are being plagued by terrifying visions. Is this the work of God, the Devil or something much worse?

I just finished an Advanced Reading Copy of this book and will post my review shortly.

The Daughters of Mars by Tom Keneally: Tom is one of Australia’s best-loved authors – though I confess I’ve never read any of his books. He won the Booker Prize for his book Schindler’s Ark which was made into the Academy-award winning movie Schindler’s List. The Daughters of Mars tells the story of two Australian sisters who volunteer to become nurses during World War One and ship out to Gallipoli and then the Western Front. Tom Keneally drew on the real-life diaries of WWI nurses to craft this novel. With a mother and a sister who are nurses, I’m looking forward to reading this one!

Across a Bridge of Dreams

Across a Bridge of Dreams by Lesley Downer:I am judging this book purely by its cover and the brief synopsis I read. It’s set in 19th century Japan and features two lovers who are torn apart by society and war. It’s supposed to be based on the true story of the Last Samurai. (Hopefully Tom Cruise doesn’t make an appearance in this book.)

Out July 2012

Between The Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer: This is a Young Adult novel co-written by Jodi Picoult (author of My Sister’s Keeper and many other bestsellers) and her daughter. I read the synopsis and it sounds good on paper. It’s about a 15-year-old girl who crosses from reality into the fairy tale world of her favourite book. I’m a sucker for fairy tales. It’s also interesting to see yet another author cross over into writing Young Adult novels whilst J.K. Rowling is going all adult on us.

A Dangerous Inheritance

A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir: Alison Weir is a proper historian turned fiction writer. I’ve previously read and enjoyed several of her novels. A Dangerous Inheritance tells the story of Lady Catherine Grey, cousin to Elizabeth I, who is arrested and sent to the Tower of London. Her crime was to marry in secret and produce a child who may threaten Elizabeth’s claim to the throne. I love a juicy plot about the Tudors!

Out September 27th

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling: I have to read this one. I’m dying to see what J.K. creates post-Potter days. This book is about small town intrigue set in an idyllic English village. The publisher describes it as “Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising.” Hmm … we’ll all be the judge of that!

Out October 2012?

The Twelve

The Twelve by Justin Cronin – Book 2 of The Passage: This book has been a long time coming. So long that I will have to go back and re-read The Passage. How many times has the whole apocalyptic/end-of-the-world/killer virus/zombies/vampire thing been done? Plenty of times in books and film. But not like this. The Passage was an epic read and I am looking forward to reading it again and then diving into The Twelve.

I’m not sure when this will be out in Australia. It seems to be October in the US so I am hoping it will be released here at the same time. This is post-apocalyptic imagination at its best.

*Note: These are all Australian publication dates. I am linking to the Australian publishers’ websites, but am not endorsing you buy the books from these websites. I’m just purely letting you read more about the books.