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Review: ‘Dead Ever After’ by Charlaine Harris

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It’s the end of the road for Sookie Stackhouse, Charlaine Harris’ plucky, mind-reading heroine.

“Dead Ever After” (Ace, $27.95) hits bookstores Tuesday, and is the final Sookie Stackhouse novel. Disappointingly, there isn’t any sense of finality to the series. Fans seeking full closure will have to wait until the fall. A coda, “After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse,” is set for release in October and will reveal what the future holds for every major character. Harris should have taken a cue from J.K. Rowling and wrote an epilogue instead.

To recap since we last set foot in Bon Temps, La., Sookie had used the cluviel dor (a single wish-granting magical object she inherited from her grandmother) to bring shapeshifting bar owner Sam Merlotte back to life after he was fatally stabbed. Sookie’s lover, the Nordic vampire Eric refuses to take Sookie’s calls, presumably because he had hoped to use the magical object himself. Now that the magic has been used up, he’s trapped in an arranged marriage with a vampire queen.

Setting the final book in motion, someone in Sookie’s circle of friends, family and co-workers is murdered. Sookie is the prime suspect and needs to clear her name — that is if she isn’t killed first.

“I think you truly take the prize for having more people want to kill you than anyone I’ve ever known,” the pancake-loving, half-demon attorney Desmond Cataliades succinctly notes in the book. To say that Sookie has amassed a few enemies in the previous 12 books would be an understatement. There are plenty of humans and supernatural beings who would very much like to be rid of the Bon Temps waitress. And all the major enemies put in an appearance here.

But while she has been amassing enemies, she also has been gathering up allies as well. In addition to Mr. Cataliades, Sookie is aided this time by fellow telepath Barry Horowitz, Shreveport werewolf Mustapha Khan, witches Amelia and Bob, Cataliades’ semi-demon niece Diantha and the weretiger John Quinn (among others).

A major problem with the book is Harris’ decision to forgo the first-person narrative in parts. One of the series’ greatest strengths was its heroine’s unique voice, and taking us out of her head — even for a short period — robs the final book of some of its charm.

Harris does excel in writing dialogue for each of her characters that is distinct enough that anyone who has read previous entries in the series can figure out who is talking. Her description of Bon Temps is again spot-on. From its back roads to its swampland, Bon Temps feels like a real place.

Longtime fans may be disappointed with whom Sookie decides to be romantically entangled, though. No spoilers here, but suffice to say the choice is certain to stir up some controversy within the fan base. It’s just ambiguous enough to leave you wondering if Sookie really has found her happily ever after.

Misha Davenport is a local freelance writer.

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