People, we did it. We have made it (well, I have made it and you have generously suffered through my recaps) through thirteen books of vampire politics, fairy family trees, dead bartenders, and at least one instance of coffin-surfing. This is my first successfully blogged full series, so thank you for joining me on this, and I’m sorry I didn’t better use everyone’s time to quote-unquote real literature. Well, I’m not sorry, that’s not what I’m about and you knew that when you came here. In any case, it’s time for Dead Ever After, the thirteenth and final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series (not counting the epilogue book, which I’ve already prophecied reading). Herein, we find out which of Sookie’s many dead and/or furry beaus she ends up with, and are faced with an uncomfortably close to home but surprisingly justified murder. Spoilers to follow…
When last we left Sookie, she was at a Pack Justice ceremony for Alcide’s second/Sam’s girlfriend Jannalynn, who stabbed Sam (while aiming for Alcide). Sam died, Jannalynn was executed, Sookie finally used the damn cluviel dor to wish Sam alive again, and Eric flounced off in a bit of a rage, having been told about the cluviel dor by No all, and assuming she’d use it for him. (As Sookie deduces it, “So the cluviel dor was a test of Eric’s sincerity, in Niall’s eyes. And the cluviel dor was a test of my love for Eric, in Eric’s eyes. And we both failed the test.”)
Back to business. This book decides to go a slightly different narrative route than the rest of the series, which jumps around periodically to third person narratives following a series of unnamed and named characters. Copley Carmichael, Amelia’s dad, literally sells his soul to a devil in exchange for financial security, and he sells his bodyguard Tyrese’s soul as well, for a signing bonus. Tyrese is cool with giving up his soul because he wants this girl to love him, but we’ll get back to that. Copley uses his bonus to look for Sookie’s cluviel dor. The devil can’t bring it to him, because it’s used up (and because Copley only specified “find it” and not “make sure it’s not used” – you gotta be careful with your wording when you’re making deals with supernatural creatures, people!), so Copley swears Revenge on Sookie for no real good reason.
Also some mysterious men buy Arlene out of jail (where she’s been sitting since that time she and her cult buddies attempted to literally crucify Sookie), and get her to make a very public appearance at Merlotte’s to beg Sookie for a job. Sookie of course refuses, because she is not an idiot. Arlene ends up dead in the dumpster behind the bar. No harm really done, one supposes, except an old scarf of Sookie’s is found around Arlene’s neck.
For the interest of clarity, as always I’m going to try and condense the storylines. The mysterious men turn out to be Steve Newlin, formerly of the Fellowship of the Sun, and Johan Glassport, lawyer-slash-major dick who defended Sophie-Anne when she was accused of murdering her husband. They are acting under orders to murder Arlene and pin it on Sookie (not at all convincingly, honestly – but they DO put a magic object in the car of detective Alcee Beck that makes him literally supernaturally convinced that Sookie DID do it, and to pursue her to the fullest extent of the law). Ah, but who hired them for murder, and who has a powerful supernatural object lying around to sway the minds of tertiary characters? Who, indeed.
Before I get into all of that, a brief interlude about how the Federal Bureau of Vampire Affairs has left donor registration up to the individual states. Louisiana has stepped away from private registries in favor of a state donor program, which allows for vampires to get blood under supervised conditions. Some states do home delivery, but Louisiana has a clinic, with appointments and client confidentiality, and an attempt to keep vampires from taking the same donor repeatedly. THIS IS FASCINATING. This is honestly the shit that I live for, and I love that even when she’s attempting to wrap up so many threads and give all these characters endings, Harris is still throwing details like this my way, over which to ponder.
Shall we get back to the plot, though? Eric, after refusing to talk to Sookie for a few days, calls her out to Fangtasia so they can perform a vampire divorce ritual in front of his king Felipe and his almost definitely future wife Freyda. Eric later shows up at Sookie’s house in secret to tell her that of course he still loves her, that the divorce was all for show because vampires need ceremony, and that he intends to keep her around. Sookie points out that being the king consort’s mistress is not her cup of tea, especially given she’d have to move to Oklahoma, and especially given there’s no way Freyda would let her live if she found out. And not just kill her, but likely in a horrible and ugly way. Sookie and Eric have an argument about him turning her, which he’s always wanted to do and she has always very much not wanted done. Sook realizes Pam and Eric’s other child, Karin the Slaughterer, are both blonde warrior women, and knows he has a Type. She can’t imagine herself joining the pantheon, is furious that Eric has probably always secretly intended to turn her, knowing full well it isn’t what she wants, so it’d be against her will, and kicks him to the curb. This time is for good.
Karin the Slaughterer, by the by, is Eric’s other vampire child, who has never shown up or been mentioned (at least by name) before now. He’s called her into service to keep an eye on Sookie since Things Are Afoot (also he’s a little afraid of Freyda), and Karin is actually a witness to Sookie not being the murderer, since she was creepily watching Sookie sleep all night. If you thought Pam was a bit of a weirdo, Karin is very much a weirdo. I think Bill’s into her. In any case, Eric assigns her as nighttime protection.
Meanwhile, back at the trailer behind the bar because no one in this series owns a ranch, Sam is far from being grateful that Sookie, you know, revived him from the dead. Rather, he’s being weirdly recalcitrant. He barely interacts with her at work and Sookie is vexed. She thinks he’s just trying to cope with being not alive then alive again, and she calls his mom in for reinforcements. His mom (Bernie) is not super into Sookie as a person. But she does her best to heal her son mentally and then peaces out, and Sam is still not really speaking to Sookie. My level of investment is rather low. People purposefully keeping secrets is obnoxious, particularly in fiction.
The only evidence against Sookie is Arlene storming out of the office, and the scarf around her neck, which Sookie wore once. But Alcee Beck is under supernatural influence, so he and Andy Bellefleur (who IS on Sookie’s side) arrest Sookie for murder. It’s ugly. She spends the night in jail with local drunk Jane Bodehouse who swears that she one hundred percent saw Arlene meeting with two strange men (while Jane, incidentally, was having sex with a dude in the back of his car at the time, so she is not the best witness). Sookie goes to her arraignment and is flattered by the amount of locals who show up as character witnesses and/or to prove that she has local ties and isn’t a flight risk. Sam is not one of them. But Mustapha Khan (Eric’s daytime man) is, and he puts up the money for Sookie’s bail at Eric’s behest. Sookie can’t figure out why Eric would bother, given that wedding negotiations are full speed ahead and this is not going to please Freyda.
Knowing that she’s now being hugely targeted, not to mention the whole murder investigation thing, Sookie calls in the big guns. Mr. Cataliades and his niece Diantha come to stay and help out with the legal side of things, Amelia and Bob show up to help with the magic side of things, and even our old pal Barry Bellboy the telepath joins in.
Unfortunately for Amelia, wandering into a den of telepathy (don’t forget, Mr. Cataliades is one, too) leads to the revelation that she has two mental signatures – she’s pregnant!
Just to really throw things out of whack, Quinn shows up, too. He stays in a hotel in town because there’s no room at the inn, which is a misleading sentence, I realize, but you know what I mean. In any case, everyone is Really Invested in whether or not Quinn is staying at Sookie’s, like it’s any of their damn business who she’s sleeping with when she is possibly facing a murder conviction. He does some good sniffing around the house, in tiger form, but then eventually has to leave because he’s in charge of planning some big vampire wedding in Oklahoma, wouldn’t know anything about that.
Unrelated, but I guess one good thing in Sookie’s currently otherwise tumultuous life: since all the fairies have returned to their native land, Niall has sold off the strip club Hooligans, and other various fairy-owned properties, and now Sookie gets a hefty check every month for the rest of her life. So she doesn’t have to worry about how to pay for her defense fund, which is good, because Mr. Cataliades may be a friend, but he ain’t cheap. Also now she can spray the house for bugs. She actually thinks that; Sookie’s priorities are weird.
But the Sookie Murder Investigation Team is facing bad times. Barry figures out it’s Newlin and Glassport (he’s had no personal experience with Newlin, but definitely knows Glassport) and goes after them, only to end up missing. And remember Tyrese? He’s Copley’s bodyguard that agreed to let his boss sell his soul in exchange for getting a woman to love him. Except, she loved him so much she accidentally made him HIV positive and then felt so bad she killed herself. So now he’s soulless and bereft, and has decided to transfer all of his rage onto Sookie, because that’s where all of Copley’s rage is focused. It doesn’t really make any sense, but there you go. In any case, he shows up at the house while Sookie is out, gets past all the magical wards because they don’t affect soulless people (who knew?), takes Amelia hostage, and shoots Bob (he lives). Sookie runs into Mustapha in town and is taking him back to her place to pick up Eric’s shit, in classic breakup form, which is great for her because Mustapha’s boyfriend Warren* is a sharpshooter and/or sniper, and they show up to the house in time to kill Tyrese. Not before Sookie also gets shot, though.
*It’s never explicitly stated by either Warren or Mustapha that they are lovers, but it’s definitely the undertone of their entire relationship, and Sookie highly suspects. The coda does say they stayed together after the series was over.
At the hospital, both Sam and Eric show up, and Eric delivers a mysterious missive to Sam: “I will not release you.” Later, Bill shows up at Sookie’s and is beside himself with delight to finally get one over on Eric, as repayment for the time that Eric revealed to Sookie that Bill had been ordered to seduce her. Bill finally has some nasty info about Eric that he is freely allowed to spread, info about Sam. After hearing it, Sookie steamrolls Sam for confirmation: Sam tried to get bail money for Sookie, but was turned down at the bank for a loan. In desperation, he went to cash-rich Eric, who unfortunately was with Freyda. Freyda agreed that Eric could bail out Sookie, with conditions. Sookie is banned from Oklahoma, Eric is never allowed to be alone with Sookie, and Sam was forbidden from telling Sookie what he’d done, or from courting Sookie. Eric tried to play off to Freyda that he was punishing Sookie, but really he was punishing Sam. Because he has always suspected that Sam was after Sookie (so has Bill, so had Jannalynn). I guess the idea here is if Eric can’t have Sookie, no one can, or at least not Sam? Except if Freyda is falling for this, she is stupider than I or Sookie initially gave her credit for. But I guess she’s trying to be generous, and she lets Eric get away with this ploy, and lets Sam get away with the money.
So now that we’re here, I can no longer avoid this: the “resolution” to Sookie’s relationship “drama”. The book illustrations are especially dramatic on this front, throwing the various animal representations of Sookie’s lovers on the cover. That’s neither here nor there. She ends up boning Sam, with the promise that it will be the start of a slow and well-thought-out relationship, unlike her other ones she kinda jumped into. Look, I have read this series before, and the Sam resolution was coming, which was why I’ve been deliberately including him in Sookie’s list of beaus all along, even though they made out just That One Time. Clearly Harris was trying to push Sam as the safe, comfortable option, perhaps to really illustrate the dangerous turn Sookie’s life has taken since getting involved with vampires. However, it does a disservice to all of her vampire characters, who in the end all get painted with the brush of only being out for their own interests. Yes, I’m including Bill in this and defending him. I don’t know, I find it frustrating, and not because I was rooting for Eric. I wasn’t really rooting for anyone (maybe Quinn), I just want poor Sookie to be happy. I just feel this was set up to be “obvious,” yet it feels mostly undeserved. I was having a conversation with a friend who wanted to know who Sookie eventually ended up with, and when I said Sam, she said, “Wait, really?” That’s how I feel about it. He’s fine, it makes kind of sense, but it gets shoved at us at the last minute.
Anywho, Copley Carmichael ends up in Sookie’s vampire hidey-hole, turns out it was Karin. She calls Pam, who takes Copley for unknown services. Apparently Eric submitted a wish list to Felipe as part of his wedding negotiation (upping for the 200-year contract instead of the 100-year contract), namely: 1, Pam gets made sheriff in his stead; 2, Karin watches over Sookie/her home for a year; 3, no vampire is ever allowed to harm Sookie in any way. So there’s that loose end tied up, I guess.
Sookie and Sam go on a double date to line dance at Stompin’ Sally’s. But Sookie gets kidnapped, because Sookie. Turns out the mystery man who’s been manipulating Johan Glassport and Steve Newlin is none other than Sookie’s fairy cousin Claude Crane. What’s that, you say? We sealed off Faery and all of its inhabitants, and it was kind of a big deal and also a huge relief that we didn’t have to pay attention anymore? Why yes, but apparently Niall made it easy for Claude to get out of prison, so if someone helped him, Niall could root out all of his betrayers. Whatever. Anyway, Claude decides that Sookie is to blame for everything because Niall wanted to close Faery because of her. I don’t really know how he thinks torturing her is going to help his situation, but every time Claude shows up, my eyes glaze over. The amazing thing is, because they kidnapped her right from the bar, half of the people in Stompin’ Sally’s followed the van and shoot her kidnappers in a field. You don’t fuck with line dancers, is what I’ve learned today. And then Sookie finds and rescues Barry, sends him off to live with Sam’s mom while he recovers. Jason and Michele get married, and Sam and Sookie plan on going to a movie maybe. And then it’s over! No, really, that’s where it ends, with Sookie thinking that she and Sam will probably be together by December, but if not, whatever, she’s cool with it.
It’s anticlimactic, not going to lie. I mean, there is the epilogue book, but it still feels like we just come to the ending of adventure without any sense of satisfaction. I understand why you wouldn’t start throwing in new adversaries at the last minute, but why bring back a bunch of low-level pseudo-villains? Why yet another kidnapping, and not even one of Sookie’s better abductions? I mean, we DO get the knowledge that Sookie is financially taken care of, and satisfied with her work, and that is pretty nice. She’s more than her relationships, I think the point is supposed to be (and also that Sam is Good at The Sex). And she IS. It’s been a ride, Miss Stackhouse. I genuinely enjoy you. You have peculiar priorities, you’re really into telling me about detailed meal plans, I know way too much about vampire penises because of you, and most importantly, I’ve learned to never, ever fuck with you. I’ll see you soon for one last not-ride, but I will actually miss you, you wacky so-and-so.
Not you, Bill Compton. Never you.