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Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Author:  Charlaine Harris
Plot Type:  UF
Publisher and Titles:  Ace  
         Dead Until Dark (2008)
         Living Dead in Dallas (2002)
         Club Dead (2003)
         Dead to the World (2005)
         Dead as a Doornail (2006)
         Definitely Dead (2007)
         All Together Dead (2008)
         From Dead to Worse (2009)
         Dead and Gone (2009)
         Dead in the Family (2010)
         Dead Reckoning (2011)
         Deadlocked (5/2012)
         Dead Ever After (5/2013) (FINAL NOVEL)
        After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse (10/29/13, the coda for the series)
         A Touch of Dead (2009, contains all of the Sookie Stackhouse short stories)
         The Sookie Stackhouse Companion (Ace, 8/2011, nonfiction guide to the series)   

     This post was revised and updated on 10/30/13 to include a review of  After Dead, the book that describes the future lives of the huge cast of characters. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building, reviews of books 11-13, and an overview of related anthologies, nonfiction, TV, and video games:

            THE CODA: After Dead            
     First, I recommend that if you plan to purchase this book you get the hardback versionnot the e-book. If you love real books, you'll find that this one is a gem, from its embossed, green and purple cover to its beautifully designed endpapers to its Sookie-centric dust cover. The endpapers portray all of the shape-shifting men with whom Sookie has had romancesQuinn the tiger, Alcide the wolf, and Sam the dogand off to the side is a swishy black vampire cape representing Bill and Eric. Also included are nicely designed chapter pages in which each letter is gothically drawn as a centerpiece of some type of supernatural scene. I particularly love the letter "U," which presents the bowl of the letter as a grave filled with skeletons. The e-book version also includes the artwork, but unless you have a tablet, you won't get the benefit of the lush colors. And one more great thing about the book: the physical presentationthe rich feel of the thick paper and the attention to details. This is definitely a book for serious fans of the seriesa lovely book that finishes off a great series in a beautiful manner. I give it five stars for its design and construction.

     Now…for the content. Harris has always said that this book would be a coda: an afterward or summary of the characters' future lives. A coda is generally brief and to the point, particularly when you're dealing with a huge cast of characters, and that's what this book contains. The characters are arranged alphabetically, beginning with the Ancient Pythoness (from All Together Dead) and ending with Bethany Zanelli (couldn't find her in any of the books, including The SS Companion). Some characters rate a sentence; most get a short paragraph; and the main ones get a page or two. Some of the entries overlap, as when one character marries another or one character's children marry those of another character. You'll learn the answers to many fateful questions: Will Jane Bodehouse dry out and join AA? Does Jason remain faithful to Michele? Do they have children? Does Niall ever contact Sookie? Where is Bubba? What happens to Hadley's son, Hunter Savoy? Does Barry the Bellboy get pulled into vampire life because of his telepathy skills or does he escape? Do Tara's twins stay in Bon Temps? What happens between Quinn and the mother of his children? (Note: Harris hints that she may have more stories ahead for Barry and Quinn.) By the end, the reader has a clear picture of what happens in Sookie's world during the next few decades. That's what Harris said she would do in this book, and she definitely does it.

     Some reviewers are upset with the brevity of some of the entries, but I don't entirely agree. If a minor character dies of a venereal disease, for example, how much more do you need to know? Harris maintains her usual dry humor and her sense of humanity as she maps out each character's life, so she weaves both smiles and tears through the entries. One of my favorite entries was the one for Amelia Broadwayher son's name and his choice of careers are both a hilarious link to his father's troubles in Definitely Dead

     Of course, the entries for Sookie, Sam, Bill, and Eric are longer than the rest, and that is to be expected. You'll be surprised at how well everyone's life turns out, particularly Bill and Eric. I give it four stars for content.   

     I have read all of the books, but I have also watched all of the True Blood episodes, and I have to admit that I had to stop and concentrate sometimes to keep my thoughts on the books and not the TV shows, which are by now entirely different in their story lines, even for the most familiar characters (Tara and Jason being prime examples). All in all, though, I'm glad that I bought the book. It's a beautifully crafted object that contains a wealth of information about a large group of characters that I have come to know well over the past decade. I consider it to be a handsome addition to my bookshelf, and I think that its selling price is quite fair because of its quality design and construction as well as its content.   

     If, like me, your memory of some of the minor characters is a bit fuzzy, check out these references:

     The Sookie Stackhouse Companion: Look for the section entitled "A Guide to the World of Sookie Stackhouse." It begins on page 313 and contains annotations on nearly every character in the books (but not Bethany Zanelli).

     Here are two Internet sites that provide annotations for many of the characters: Click HERE to go to annotations on the main characters and the top supporting characters. Click HERE to go to a longer list of annotations that includes characters who made it to the end as well as those who didn't.

     The only possible way that you could be unfamiliar with the overall plot of this series is if you have been locked in a closet or buried in a cave for the past few years, but just in case, here is a very brief introduction:

     In this villageous, rather than urban, fantasy series, free-spirited, mind-reading Sookie is just a cocktail waitress in a small-town northern Louisiana bar until Vampire Bill sits down at one of her tables. From that point on, her life is changed forever. Vampires have revealed themselves to the world because the Japanese invented synthetic blood, removing the need for humans as a food source. Shifters reveal themselves a few years later, but the faeries keep their true identities hidden from human view. The vampires follow the traditional rules: sun sensitivity, day sleep, and a preference for human blood. With the exception of a few rogues, all vampires are part of an intricate hierarchy that includes kings and queens at the top of the pecking order. The U.S. is divided into territories, each with its vampire ruler, and those territories are further divided into smaller regions, each run by a sheriff.

     The series maintains Sookie as the primary character, but each of her adventures focuses on a slightly different group of friends, family, and lovers as she battles serial killers, human religious fanatics, bad vamps, and many other evil supernatural beings.

     Click HERE for biographies of the huge list of the main and supporting characters in this series. Click HERE for an in-depth look at the Sookie Stackhouse universe. Click HERE to read synopses of the books and the True Blood TV episodes.

           BOOK 11:  Dead Reckoning            
     Although it has a few problems with series continuity and in-book continuity, Sookie is still Sookie, and Harris  is still telling her story extremely well. As the story opens, Merlotte's is fire bombed by a mysterious villainprobably a shifter. Then, some thugs who are amped up on vampire blood come after Sookie. As usual, Sookie is the target of multiple villains, and there is plenty of violence on the menuat Merlotte's, at Fangtasia, and at Sookie's house on Hummingbird Road. The primary villains are Sandra Pelt, sister of the crazy werewolf Sookie killed in book four, and Victor, the bad vampire we met in the previous book. One of them wants to get rid of Sookie, and one wants to get rid of Eric. Neither is very particular about what happens to the people who get in the way.

     Sookie also has some problems with her faery relatives (Claude and Dermot), who are now living with her, and her witch friend (Amelia), who comes for a visit with her boyfriend, Bob (formerly a cat).

     Some readers have criticized this book because a few of the men (Eric, Bill, and Alcide, to be specific) act out of character, but I can't agree. Without giving away any spoilers, I'll just say that Eric and Bill have always been untrustworthy and prone to do  and say whatever their vampire hearts desire, and Alcide has always had a big ego.

     In one interesting scene, we learn the who-what-when-where-why of Sookie's telepathic talents as well as some fascinating information about her grandparents. The situations with Sandra Pelt and Victor are resolved by the end of the book, but Sookie's romantic situation with Eric is left danglingto be taken up in the next book.

     I can't get too upset with the series continuity issues. They didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story. The in-book continuity issue, however was distracting. At one point in the story, Sookie tells Bill all about a problem she is having with Eric, and then about 40 pages later, she tells him all about it againand it's as if this is the first time he's hearing it. Click HERE to read the first chapter of Dead Reckoning.

            BOOK 12: Deadlocked            
     As the story begins, Sookie gets the news that Felipe de Castro (the vampire King of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Nevada) is in Shreveport to find out what part Eric, Sookie, and their friends played in the death of Victor (Felix's Louisiana regent) in the previous book. When Sookie arrives at Eric's house for the meeting with Felipe, she finds Eric drinking blood from a young werewolf woman who has drunk fairy blood to make herself irresistible to vampires. When that woman is found dead on Eric's front lawn a few hours later, all of the party goers are dragged down to police headquarters and become suspects in the murder.

     The main plot follows Sookie as she tries to figure out who killed the girl and why. Secondary story lines include several kidnappings and attempted kidnappings as well as a number of other complications: Unhappy faeries who have been blocked from re-entry into the faery world begin acting out in Sookie's woods. A jealous female werewolf strikes out when she thinks that Sookie is trying to take Sam away from her. The vampire Queen of Oklahoma wants Eric to drop Sookie and become her consort. Someone is trying to steal the cluviel dorthe powerful magical artifact that Sookie found in her grandmother's dresser in the previous book. Each of these threads is woven into a compelling master plot that will keep you guessing until the end. All of the plot lines are connected in some way to the cluviel dorwhich will grant Sookie just one wish. As the suspense builds, Sookie tries to decide how she will use itif she can just keep it safe from the wannabe thieves. In story threads unrelated to the main plot, two of Sookie's friends deal with husbands/lovers who are keeping secrets, Jason and Michele decide to get married, and Tara has her babies. By the end of the book, most of the story lines are resolved, but not the relationship problems between Sookie and Eric, which must wait for the final book.

     This book has plenty of compelling action built into its relatively complex plot. Harris knows her characters extremely well and obviously has a definite plan for Sookie's future. Dead Reckoning sets up Sookie's situation perfectly for the final book, with most of the issues related to vampire politics having been resolved (with the possible exception of the always unpredictable Felipe). I'd guess that much of Dead Ever After will deal with Sookie's personal issues.

     So...let's review Sookie's romantic situation: By the end of Dead Reckoning, Bill has once more declared his love for her; Eric seems to be on the verge of hooking up with the Queen of Oklahoma; Alcide appears to be attracted to a new werewolf character; Sam is free once again after one more in a steady stream of bad relationship choices; and Quinn has been in touch with Sookie to let her know that his relationship with Tijgerin hasn't worked out in any permanent manner. So...who will be Sookie's final boyfriend? Will she choose one of her former paramours? Will someone new pop into the picture? Or will she stride off into the future alone? Harris always keeps us guessing, and, personally, I wouldn't have it any other way.

            BOOK 13: Dead Ever After (FINAL)           
     Before I begin my review, I just want to say this to the folks out there waving their pitchforks and their single star ratings: "People, people! Relax. Take a deep breath and remember: This is just fiction. It's not real life. It's not the True Blood TV series either. It's the final book in a series that Charlaine Harris has been writing for more than a decade, andlest we forgetshe's in charge, whether we like it or not."

     Now, let's get to the review, which won't give many details because I hate Spoilers. Needless to say, Harris ties up a lot of loose ends in this final episode in Sookie's life. Several characters from previous relationships and entanglements returnboth good guys and bad guysand they play significant parts in our final visit to Bon Temps, Louisiana.

     The book begins with an extensive Prologue that sets up the action part of the plot. Several unnamed men are plotting against Sookie, and one of them is a devil. Two of the men soon become identifiable, and when we learn who they are, we understand exactly why they are out to get our hapless heroine. The identity of the final villain is not revealed until the climactic show-down scene.

     As chapter 1 begins, Sookie finds herself alone. She has just used the magical cluviel dor to save Sam's life, and in the process has alienated her lover, Eric. Many of her human friends have learned to stay away from Sookie for fear of becoming entangled in her supernatural adventures, none of which turn out very well for innocent bystanders. 

     Even though Sookie brought Sam back from the dead, he isn't brimming over with gratitude and good will. Instead, he withdraws from everyone, including Sookie. Meanwhile, Eric is involved in his political maneuvering with Felipe and the Queen of Oklahoma, trying to make the best out of the bad situation his maker created by promising that he would be the queen's consort.

     The plot follows the bad guys' evil machinations as they attempt to capture/kill/torture Sookie (which seems to happen in every book, so this isn't a Spoiler). Will Sookie's friends help her out? If so, which ones: the supernaturals or the humans? Will Sookie find a permanent romantic relationship? If so, which one will it be: Bill, Eric, Sam, Alcide, Quinn...or someone new?

     Although the play-out on the romance is, at first, slightly unexpected, once I thought it over, I could see why she chose the man she did. One reviewer on makes a great point. The Sookie in this book is very much like the Sookie of the first five books, but with a lot more real-world and supernatural-world experience. She's a small-town girl and proud of it. She likes her job, loves her home, and has never shown any ambition for greater things. This doesn't mean that she hasn't grown as a character. It just means that sometimes that after you do a thorough investigation, the grass really isn't greener on the other side of the fence, even if the fence is magical.

     I suggest that you read the book without perusing the amazon reviews (too many Spoilers) and make your own judgment. Just remember though, that Sookie's choice won't be Alexander Skarsgård or Stephen Moyer or Sam Trammell or Joe Manganiello. Those are True Blood's actorsnot Charlaine Harris's charactersand there are many, many differences between the TV characters and the print characters. 

     I'm looking forward to reading After Dead, the coda to the series. This book will contain a list of characters arranged alphabetically with information about what the future holds for each one. It will even include an update on Sookie's own HEA. Series artist Lisa Desimini has designed a Sookieverse alphabet, color endpapers, and several full-page black and white interior illustrations. 

     After you read Dead Ever After, click HERE to read posts on the "Dead Ever After Spoilers and Speculation" forum on

          Overview of Anthologies, Nonfiction, TV, & Video Games          

    Home Improvement: Undead Edition (8/2011), with additional authors Rachel Caine, Patricia Briggs, Jeaniene Frost, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Carrie Vaughn, P. C. Cast, J. R. Ward, Stephenie Meyer,  Stacia Kane, Tony L. P. Kelner, Suzanne McLeod, George R. R. Martin, David Tischman,  Ilona Andrews, Laurell K. Hamilton, MaryJanice Davidson, and Chloe Neill

     Down These Strange Streets (10/2011): with additional authors George R. R. Martin, Patricia Briggs, Diana Gabaldon, Simon R. Green, S. M. Stirling, Carrie Vaughn, and others.

     Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side (4/2012), with additional authors Toni L. P. Kellner, Carolyn Hart, Barbara D'Amato, Margaret Maron, and others.

     An Apple for the Creature (9/2012), with additional authors Marjorie Liu, Thomas Sniegoski, Ilona Andrews, Mike Carey, Amber Benson, Rhys Bowen, Toni L. P. Kelner, and others. Click HERE to read my review of this anthology.

    A Touch of Dead (2009) contains all of the Sookie Stackhouse short stories.

    The Sookie Stackhouse Companion (8/2011) is a nonfiction guide to the series. Click HERE to read my review of this book.

    The first four seasons of the HBO series True Blood are available on DVD. For a season-by-season synopsis of the TV series, click HERE and scroll down a bit.

     Harris has also collaborated on a video game, Dying for Daylight, that takes place in the SOOKIE STACKHOUSE world. Click HERE to go to that web site.

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