We’re getting into the final stretch here, people. Dead Reckoning is the eleventh book in the series, and introduces a very small object that will fuel a lot of the personal relations in the next two books. But in the meantime, Sookie has to deal with all of the men in her life being butts, and, finally, the last of the Pelt clan. Spoilers to follow…
Sookie gets another new roommate slash family member: her great-uncle Dermot (from the illegitimate fairy side of the family, which predisposes me to not care in the slightest), now fully free from whatever spell was on him, is stuck in the human world since Faery is closed off, and needs a place to stay, so he rooms with Claude. As part of the rental agreement, since he doesn’t have a job, Sookie gets both men to help her clean all of the junk out of the attic. Part of the junk is a hidden drawer in an old desk, and inside that hidden drawer is a letter to Sookie from her beloved Gran, and a mysterious object called a cluviel dor. Long and stupid story short, Gran’s affair was more than a fling, and a cluviel dor is an extremely rare and extremely magical object, a fairy love token that grants the possessor a wish to change the life of themselves or someone they love.
Sookie is concerned that there are so many people with an eye on her life that the wards aren’t good enough since Amelia left, so she calls her up and asks for a redo. Amelia drives down from New Orleans with Bob, who is both human and Amelia’s lover again. I guess Bob got over the whole being-a-cat thing. And I guess Amelia got over Tray’s horrible slow death. Amelia also finds a spell to break the blood bond between Sookie and Eric, the source of so much tension in poor Sook’s life. But then Dermot takes down the wards because obviously witch magic isn’t as strong as fairy magic, only he doesn’t put up new ones in time, and some dudes break in with the intent of kidnapping Sook. She escapes by hiding in Bill’s secret vampire hidey-hole. They die, but I’ll get back to them in a bit.
Pam, easily the greatest character this series has to offer, is in a rotten mood. Her current lover, Miriam, is dying of cancer, and Pam wants to turn her. She needs Eric’s permission as her Maker (’cause, you know, vampire laws and regulations and politics and shit), but Victor is overriding Eric at literally every turn and Pam is furious.
Anyway, Miriam dies, which is not as sad as you’d think because we hardly knew ye (or at all – sorry, Pam). Only tangentially related, Sookie, Eric, Pam, the vamps of Fangtasia, and a couple random human employees from one of Victor’s many pointless bars launch an elaborate plan to take out Victor and a large portion of the Nevada contingent. This plan is: lure Victor in with the promise of a private Elvis concert, and then kill him. It actually fucking works. And to her credit, Sookie stays and fights, even though she has been in way too many brawls lately, and seen too much weird and gory and horrible shit. (One of them is in this battle, described as the new “most horrible thing I’ve ever seen”, in which one of the vamps rips off another vamp’s penis. War is hell, guys.) She actually gets into the position where she stabs Victor with a sword (although Pam is behind him, holding him, and Sookie is afraid of killing Pam, so she doesn’t actually kill Victor, and Pam has to). You don’t fuck with Sookie, guys, I’ve been telling you this for books. Still, and what makes her great, is when the battle is over and Bill is driving her home, she thinks of all the bodies amassed inside Fangtasia, friend and foe, and is filled with regret and wishing it hadn’t come to violence. She’ll straight up kill you if she has to, but she always regrets it, and is never immune to the horror of death.
And the next day she throws a baby shower for Tara.
Mr. Cataliades, the part-demon lawyer, shows up at Sookie’s place and tells her he was buddies with her fairy-grandfather Fintan, and as a favor to him, showed up to visit both Sookie and Jason at babies, to look for the “essential spark,” whatever the hell THAT is. Sookie had it and Jason didn’t, so Cataliades gave her the gift of telepathy. Does this have anything to do with anything, not particularly, but if you were ever wondering why Sookie is semi-supernatural when no one else is, that’s why.
Sandra Pelt shows up again to firebomb Merlotte’s. Sookie has to cut her hair and is sad about it. Sandra Pelt later comes into Merlotte’s and admits, in front of the sheriff, that she keeps trying to kill Sookie and Sookie just won’t die. She has a gun, but Terry Bellefleur, the war vet who isn’t always there sometimes, gets to her first with a bat. She lives and is arrested, but Terry does not do well in the encounter, which is when he reveals in a fit of barely comprehensible near-madness that Eric and Niall have been getting him to report on Sookie to them. Nothing terrible, they just want to know if she’s safe, who she’s hanging out with. This has been going on for awhile, before Sookie knew Niall, or even before she really knew Eric. (In exchange, they promised safety for his beloved dog, and to stop his horrible PTSD dreams. You can’t fault a guy.) That being said, it feels like as we approach the end of the series, Harris is really trying to tie up a lot of loose ends that we didn’t realize they were loose ends. I, for one, was not sitting around wondering if Sookie’s fairy great-grandfather had all this time been secretly magically aiding the dreams of Sookie’s war vet coworker that usually only gets a few lines a book.
Now, normally I throw a bullet point at the bottom pitting all of Sookie’s many would-be beaus against each other. But so much goes down here man-wise that it can’t be contained to one bullet point. Let’s review:
– Bill shows up to tell Sookie that he is not in love with sister/lover Judith, though he thanks Sookie for her interference, as he is healed from his time with sister/lover Judith. Judith, being a vampire, of course followed Bill over to Sookie’s and of course was listening in. Being a dignified woman, she doesn’t really want to stay with a dude that is still in love with his ex after eight books, and peaces the hell out. You go, Judith. Later, Sookie ends up naked in Bill’s vampire hiding spot, where he is ALSO naked, and it could be sexy shenanigans, but it’s not. This is honestly the most I’ve liked Bill. Except for when he says:
“I love you. I think you’re beautiful and kind and good, and yet you stand up for yourself. You have a lot of understanding and compassion, but you’re not a pushover. And to descend a few levels to the carnal, you have a pair of breasts that should win the Miss America Tit Competition, if there were such a thing.”
…And just like that, I’m back to not liking Bill.
– Alcide, hearing from Amelia that Sookie broke the blood bond between herself and Eric, listens to the advice of Claude and Jannalynn of all people, and decides the best thing for him to do is to wait for Sookie to come home… half-dressed in her bed. Alcide, no. Sookie in no uncertain terms tells him: she’s still with Eric, they are having GREAT sex, Alcide is a damn idiot, he’s changed a lot since becoming packmaster, and if she’d been interested in the two of them happening, this has killed it. Do not get into someone’s bed without asking them first, asking their roommate DOES NOT COUNT. (Also she suspects he wants her to be pack shaman. He does, but swears his near nudity has nothing to do with that.) (I will not show pictures of Joe Manganiello’s abs, because Alcide does not deserve them.) Sookie kicks Claude and Amelia out of the house after this, but lets Dermot come back because she likes him. I don’t care about fairy plotlines and will not blog about them.
– Sam, just kind of casually bein’ Sam and not having a great time of it. Business is down, thanks to Victor Madden opening a new bar in Shreveport for the express purpose of fucking with Sookie, and also because people aren’t hella thrilled with Sam being a shifter. Plus Merlotte’s gets firebombed. Anyway, Sookie, thinking she’s about to die, lends Sam that big chunk of money Claudine left her. Also as a kind gesture, she doesn’t tell him that Jannalynn orchestrated the whole “naked Alcide in the house” bit as a gag against Sookie. She thinks it’s petty to reveal Jannalynn’s character, and that it’s not her business to tell Sam she doesn’t think Jannalynn is good enough for him. Sookie claims repeatedly throughout the series that Sam is her best friend, but let’s not pretend that Sam isn’t a major contender for her heart. They have gone on like two dates, and made out at least once. And Sookie referring to Sam never goes for the “we’re just friends” line, it’s always, “it’s a bad idea to date your boss!” He doesn’t do anything particular this go-round, good or bad. I just want to remind everyone that he’s there.
– Eric… oh, Eric. Sookie and Eric spend a large chunk of their time together planning Victor’s murder. But he still asks her to move in with him, to sleep in the room of his house that has windows. He’s tired of waking up every night and having the blood bond immediately tell him she’s in danger. (He seems to have forgotten that people have definitely died in his house while he was there.) The bond breaks, and he still loves her and worries about her. Then finally, through Pam’s silence, Sookie deduces Eric’s big secret: there’s someone else. She’s semi-right. There is, but Eric isn’t cheating on her. Before he died, Eric’s dad Appius Livius Ocella set in motion an arranged marriage for Eric, with the Queen of Oklahoma. Eric was hoping that in the wake of Ocella’s death, this arrangement might be halted, but paperwork was already filed. (THE PAPERWORK WAS FILED.) As you can imagine, a vampire cannot have a vampire wife AND a human wife, and the human wife would never take priority, for obvious reasons. Plus, his would-be fiancée is a queen. Sookie suspects that Eric, who desires power, might not even want to refuse the match. The whole thing is a mess, and Eric did not handle it well, and continues to not handle it well.
And our last thread: Sandra motherfreaking Pelt. She is still not over Sookie murdering Debbie, even though it was actually ages ago and Sookie was technically forgiven by the Pelt clan. Of course, the parents Pelt are dead so Sandra isn’t held to their promise of zero retribution, so she first firebombs Merlotte’s, then she hires two dudes to kidnap Sookie, then lastly she uses Sam and Jannalynn as a ploy to get to Sookie’s house with a shotgun. Sookie sees through this plan and the three of them manage to work together to distract Sandra long enough that Jannalynn breaks her neck and then her skull. Sookie bursts into tears (it’s been a rough few days). They toss Sandra into the fairy portal in Sookie’s woods, where the body is promptly devoured. And that’s it!
But friends, I can’t let you leave without first sharing this text with you:
The ice pack had done all the good it was going to, and I removed it from my yahoo palace and put it on the table.
Look, there is a lot of suspension of disbelief when it comes to these books. And I’m not going to lie, I get a side-eye when I say I’m (re-)reading them, because everyone thinks they’re trashy. They aren’t as trashy as you think, I promise. Gorier than you’d expect. They have the occasional sex scene, although rarely more than one per book. And Sookie does spend a lot of the books single, or at odds with whatever boyfriend she’s with. And they are surprisingly interesting urban fantasy, moreso when you take into consideration that a lot of urban fantasy is all about hiding the existence of the fantasy with the urban, which Harris throws right out the window, and does so with some creative and speculative world-building. But I digress. My point is, I will defend these to a certain degree. But all of that said, the phrase “yahoo palace” is so epically, indescribably stupid that I saved this bit for last just so I could walk away from it altogether.
Also, it’s mentioned at least twice elsewhere in the series that vampire genitalia is cold, which is something I DON’T WANT TO KNOW, but makes a lot of sense, given that they are technically dead and not heat-generating. And all of the icky implications of sexing up something that is technically dead aside, I am concerned that even with an amount of friction generated, there still wouldn’t be enough heat going on to make anything passably warm, so that in essence, the sex act in question here would still be providing (if not rather forcefully) its own ice pack, so why would one even be necessary? For the bruising? I didn’t want to have to think about these things, but if I have to suffer, so do you.
And the bullet points:
–Does anyone new get introduced that in theory will come up later as a recurring character?
Eric gets a new daytime man, Mustapha Khan. Pam gets a new girlfriend, Miriam, who gets two lines and then dies. Okay, so that doesn’t count as “recurring character,” but it’s related to Pam and I like Pam.
–Does anyone wind up dead?
Victor Madden, finally. Other vampires, mostly on his side. Sandra Pelt, finally. And some random dudes.
–Does Sookie get injured in some capacity?
Surprisingly, she mostly only ends up a little bit banged up, for all her epic battles.