When TrueBlood was about to kick off two years ago, I picked up the first of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries to (as one does) get the literary drop on the series. Didn’t start watching the show until I picked up the first season this summer – but I did dive right into the books. Read the first three that summer, the second three this past summer – and this summer, I read the seventh. My plan is to not have to wait for the completed series (she says she’s intending 13 – Charlaine Harris being the ‘she’) in paperback but take my time reading them at my leisure.
As with any long-running series (see: The Dresden Files), there are ups and downs. Some episodes (as it were) are less engaging, shoddier, just not really as good as others. The sixth book in the Stackhouse series,Definitely Dead, was one of those not-so-good entries (with the exception of the ending sequence in New Orleans) and I was a little nervous coming back to the series (even after having passed a year). And there are issues with the series that I don’t like and there’s little I can do about that but say I don’t like them. For example…
SPOILER ALERT TO ANYONE WHO WATCHES THE SHOW
I REALLY don’t like the fact that Bill is relegated to the periphery of the story now that he and Sookie have officially completely totally broken up. Haven’t since it happened and while I understand why it had to happen, there just hasn’t been an equally interesting character for Sookie to be involved with since then. And don’t try to tell me Eric is better, because he’s still a little too two-dimensional for my liking.
Moving beyond that issue, however, I enjoyed this book for – again – the second half. The first half was a nice re-entry to a series I’d been away from and I think if I was reading this immediately after book six, I might be less inclined to be so lenient – but I enjoyed seeing Tara and Sam and everybody again, albeit for the briefest of brief moments. The action moves north a bit, a big vampire summit for the Southeast, and there’s some pretty fun intrigue going on where Sophie-Anne Leclerq is trying to hold onto her title as Queen of Louisiana – tough after Katrina, even tougher after the shit with her husband in the last book (see, it was exciting, at least a bit). I enjoyed that and getting a little larger glimpse into the vamp world.
The denouement was a bit rushed, but it actually sort of fit. The speed at which events unfolded seemed as crazy and chaotic as they might in real life, so I bought it. I didn’t, however, buy the ridiculous tacked-on three-page final chapter where Sookie comes home. It felt beyond unnecessary and like a strange button on the piece as a whole.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5. This was an enjoyable book, no doubt – one of those authors you can just blast through in a day or two. And I love me some vampires (real ones, thank you – not pussy Twi-vamps). That said, I’m okay with not doing another three-pack of the novels this summer. Dresden, I’ll read the whole damn series anyday. Sookie… well, she’s a pal I enjoy visiting with but I also don’t have that overwhelming urge to get back to Bon Temps. Not anymore, anyway.