After Dead Cover Art Released

March 29, 2013 in After Dead - The Coda

Lisa Desimini’s cover art for the “coda” book has just been released. After Dead is due out October 29, 2013, and will wrap up loose ends of all the characters in Sookie’s world in order to give the series some proper finality. Therefore it is certainly vewy vewy interesting that it sports Sookie perched happily on a gravestone, eh?

after-dead

Someone’s got to do something about that poor girl’s frizz though.

Image via Eric and Sookie Lovers.

Don’t forget you can read the summary for this appendix to the series here.

Comments, thoughts, nail-biting over the end of the Sookie Stackhouse series? Sound off below!

Baby, Don’t Hurt Me…No More

February 18, 2013 in Blood Ties and Blood Bonds

As we come to the end of the road (yes, I AM trying to get as many sad song references in here as possible, I don’t have much time left!) we’ve been reflecting on the best, worst, and saddest moments we’ve shared with Sookie since Dead Until Dark.

Sookie feels like an old friend to me, as I’m sure she does to most of you. So when she hurts, we all hurt. And you gotta admit, when it comes to hurting – like everything else in her life – Sookie Stackhouse doesn’t do this stuff by halves.

To avoid finishing on a bum note, let’s start with the sad times that have defined Sookie’s character over the series, and shown us what she’s made of.


Credit

1. Sookie’s Torture (Dead and Gone)

In a bid to force Niall’s hand to close the portal between this world and Fae, Niall’s fae enemies abduct Sookie from her yard and drag her to the middle of nowhere. There, they proceed to ridicule her, bite chunks out of her, cut her with knives and razors, and have skeevy sicko sex in front of her while she screams herself hoarse and mentally prepares to die.

Yeah, it was pretty shit.

Waterworks Bit:

I  became sure I was going to die…
Two jabbed me with a sharp knife she’d just pulled from her boot, a knife that shone like her teeth. They both leaned close to me to drink in my reaction. I could only make a raspy noise. My face was crusted with tears and blood.
“Little froggy croaking,” One said.
“Listen to her. Croak, froggy. Croak for us.”

Why We Cried

The first time I read this, I cried because Sookie was subjected to such unimaginable horror. When it read it now, I cry for the Sookie who died in that Arkansas shack – the Sookie who knew there was evil in the world but until that point, had been mostly spared. The Sookie who, though naive and a little too trusting, believed that the good in the world outweighed the bad. Part of that Sookie is gone for good, and subsequent books have been pretty clear on this point.

Her torture at the hands of the fairies was Sookie’s watershed moment, and the event that hardened her views on justice and revenge forever.

2. Breaking of the Blood Bond (Dead Reckoning)

After at least a zillion pages of agonising angst over whether or not the blood bond is distorting her real feelings for Eric, Sookie takes that shit into her own hands. An impromptu magical ceremony involving red string and a bossy witch breaks the bond for good.

Waterworks Bit:

Feeling a little ridiculous and a lot scared, but sure that I needed to do this, I snipped the red yarn.
And I lost Eric. He wasn‘t there.
Amelia rolled up the cut yarn and handed it to me. To my surprise, she was smiling; she looked fierce and triumphant. I took the length of yarn automatically from her hand, all my senses stretching out to seek Eric.
Nothing.
I felt a rush of panic. It wasn‘t entirely pure: There was some relief mixed in, which I had expected. And there was grief.

Why We Cried

I liked the bond. I didn’t disagree with Sookie for not liking it – but the bond itself? I just liked it. I never saw it as the evil shackle that some fans, to this day, still believe it to be. I believe it was made abundantly clear in the text over many books that it wasn’t a remote control for Sookie’s feelings or actions. Of course this didn’t stop some readers from giving it far more power and importance than it deserved.

The bond was conduit for feelings that both parties would have denied and stubbornly hidden – Sookie because of past hurts and a gnawing fear that she wasn’t “enough”, and Eric because…well, because he’s just Eric. The bond was necessary to help them both over the bridge, and it served that purpose perfectly well. When Sookie broke the bond, she expects to feel relieved – but the emptiness and “grief” she also feels blindside both her, and the reader.

None of this is to say that I don’t agree with her decision to break the bond; I do. It was absolutely necessary for her to clarify her true feelings, and just as importantly, it affords both her and Eric the opportunity to freely choose to continue building on the intimacy they shared while it existed. After all, there wasn’t much free choosing going on for either of them when the bond was forged.

Thanks Andre.

3. Sookie finds out about Bill’s Mission (Definitely Dead)

Eric reveals to Sookie that her charming ex was originally sent to Bon Temps to check out her talents for the Queen. He might have revealed this important little factoid while she wasn’t half dead in a hospital bed with Bill standing right there…but you’ve gotta admit, it was rather epic as far as bomb-dropping goes.

Waterworks Bit:

I’d been blindsided with the most painful knowledge: the first man to ever say he loved me had never loved me at all. His passion had been artificial. His pursuit of me had been choreographed. I must have seemed so easy to him, so gullible, so ready for the first man who devoted a little time and effort to winning me. Winning me! The very phrase made me hurt worse. He’d never thought of me as a prize.

Why We Cried

This entire scene is absolutely gut wrenching, and it was hard to choose a short selection from it to post. Anyone who can recall the first time they were ever dumped and betrayed by a lover knows the humiliation, the hollow rage and the deep, gnawing grief that such news brings. And they know how long it takes for that to stop. Straightforward cheating is one kind of betrayal – but an entire relationship built on lies piled on top of lies? A betrayal that exposed her to dangers she had no clue about, and no hope of protecting herself against? Well, that’s douchbaggery on an entirely different level.

The entire world was pulled out from under our girl that day, and her raw and entirely human reaction is one I think most of us would recognise…and hope we never feel again. What a way to end your very first relationship.

4. Sam’s Death (Deadlocked)

During yet another revolting and barbaric ceremony designed to mete out were justice (you’d think we’d be used to these by now), innocent bystander Sam is fatally wounded by Jannalynn. Hear this, people: swords belong in the hands of huge, sexy Vikings – not batshit crazy, un-coordinated ex-girlfriends.

Waterworks Bit:

I heard someone screaming and knew it was me…Sam’s eyes were wide and desperate. He knew the severity of his wound. I started to call for Eric, so he could give Sam his blood, but as I put my hand to Sam’s neck, Sam’s pulse stopped. His eyes closed.
And everything else in the world did, too.

Why We Cried

I know, I know.  It’s Sam, for fuck’s sakes!  AND I CRIED, OKAY? I’m not really sure if I cried for Sam or Sookie, perhaps a little for both. Though Sam has been an ever-present bore character in the series, I have no emotional attachment to him, not really. Certainly not the way Sookie does. And not really caring if he lives or dies made it hard to mourn him authentically, I guess. So why does his death and resurrection make the list? Well, it’s not about me and my complete lack of interest in Sam really, is it? Sookie is rather attached to Sam, and it’s her shock and horror at losing him so brutally and unexpectedly in this scene that is utterly palpable. THAT is what I found upsetting.

Sookie Stackhouse has had more than her fair share of Kleenex moments, and these are just a few of ours. What are yours? Sound off below.

When This Witch Is Defeated…

November 30, 2012 in Amnesia Eric, Dead Ever After - Book 13, Dead to the World - Book 4, Eric Northman, Sookie & Eric, Sookie Stackhouse

by krtmd

Since the release of Deadlocked, I’ve been reading all over the interwebs about how Eric has always been interested in power above everything else, and that the marriage contract with Freyda is a done deal. People have him so gone, they’re expecting Pam to turn up any moment with a bunch of liquor boxes and packing tape. Well, not me. Perhaps I’m in denial, but I’ve always expected Eric to make good on the promises his amnesiac self made back in Dead to the World, and I’m even more convinced now that he will. In fact, I think he’s already done it, in part. Not only are those promises more easily fulfilled than you might think, but they are also mirrored by what Sookie thinks and says in Deadlocked.

There were two big promises that AE made to Sookie in Dead to the World. Let’s give them a look, shall we?

Promise #1

“When this witch is defeated, I would bring you to my side. I will share everything I have with you. Every vampire who owes me fealty will honor you.”

~Eric, Dead to the World

Of course, when Eric makes this promise, he’s not quite himself. Unsurprisingly, Sookie didn’t believe him. At the time, she called it a wonderful fantasy. As any devoted SVM fan knows, Eric wakes after the witch’s curse is lifted with no memory of his time with Sookie, and it is four more books before his memories return and they rekindle their unconventional relationship. But rather than an empty promise, I think Amnesia Eric’s promise was CH’s way of smacking us with the foreshadowing bat.

So, what part of that promise has Eric already delivered? First, he married her, vampire-style. Nothing says “bringing you to my side” quite like passing a ceremonial knife around in front of Victor Madden. I know, I know. “But krtmd,” you say, “the marriage doesn’t mean anything to Sookie.” True, while the marriage offers Sookie some protection and respect in the vampire world, Sookie doesn’t view them as really married, at least as it pertains to her in the human world. But Eric does, so in essence he has brought Sookie to his side. Additionally, he’s willing to share everything he has with her, although in typical Sookie fashion, she’s reluctant to accept it. And that’s as it should be. Until they are settled in a relationship she views as a marriage, it would be out of character for Sookie to accept these things.

Now what about all those vampires honoring her? Well, I can’t speak for them, but it’s actually Freyda who brings to our attention how Eric’s vamps feel about Sookie, when she comes to see what Eric loves. From Deadlocked:

“Pam is fond of you,” [Freyda] said, not answering me directly. “This one, too.” She jerked her head at Bubba. “I don’t know why, and I want to know.”

“She’s kind,” Bubba said immediately. “She smells good. She has good manners. And she’s a good fighter, too.”

I smiled at the addled vampire. “Thank you, Bubba. You’re a good friend to me.”

Freyda eyed the famous face as if she were mining secrets from it. She turned her gaze back to me. “Bill Compton still likes you despite the fact that you’ve rejected him,” Freyda said quietly. “Even Thalia says you’re tolerable. Bill and Eric have both been your lovers. There must be something to you besides the fairy blood. Frankly, I can barely detect your fairy heritage.”

Even Thalia says she’s tolerable? Considering how Thalia feels about humans, I’d call that a ringing endorsement. We can split hairs and say that none of that implies honor, but I’d say that Eric’s vampires have at least a healthy respect for Sookie, and in the case of Bubba, Bill and Pam, outright love and affection.

Promise #1? Check.


Image credit

Promise #2

“We could go back,” he said. In the dome light of the car, his face looked hard as stone. “We could go back to your house. I can stay with you always. We can know each other’s bodies in every way, night after night. I could love you.” His nostrils flared, and he looked suddenly proud.  ”I could work. You would not be poor. I would help you.”

“Sounds like a marriage,” I said, trying to lighten the atmosphere. But my voice was too shaky.

“Yes,” he said. ~Dead to the World

So, this is the big promise, right? The one we’re waiting for? The one where Eric gives up everything to be with Sookie – and chooses the love over the power? Again, I’ve seen readers on all kinds of fan sites and forums, Eric-loving or not, convinced that Eric will, of course, choose the power Freyda offers over the love that Sookie offers.

But does Eric really desire power? Sookie’s observations in From Dead to Worse, while she awaits the coming takeover:

I mined my head for other bits of information. Five, at the top of the state, stretched nearly all the way across. Eric was richer and more powerful than I’d thought. Below him, and fairly even in territory, were Cleo Babbitt’s Area Three and Arla Yvonne’s Area Two. A swoop down to the Gulf from the southwestern most corner of Mississippi marked off the large areas formerly held by Gervaise and the queen, Four and One respectively … I was pondering the undeniable truth that the most powerful vampire in the state of Louisiana, at this very point in time, was Eric Northman, my blood-bonded, once-upon-a-time lover. Eric had said in my hearing that he didn’t want to be king, didn’t want to take over new territory; and since I’d figured out the extent of his territory right now, the size of it made that assertion a little more likely.

I believed I knew Eric a little, maybe as much as a human can know a vampire…I didn’t believe he wanted to take over the state, or he would have done so. I did think his power meant there was a giant target pinned to his back.

I would argue that Eric desires power only for the independence and autonomy it can provide. Although Freyda comments that it’s an “illusion of independence”, she’s also not wrong when she says that Eric has “been content to be sheriff for a long time. He enjoys being a big fish in a small pond.” He respected Queen Sophie-Anne, and she left him alone to run his area as he saw fit. This was a key reason for he and Victor butting heads. While Victor was threatened by what he saw as the biggest obstacle in his quest for power in Louisiana, Eric seemed mostly irritated that Victor was interfering in the business of Area 5 rather than leaving Eric to run his area independently. That, and those nasty attempts on the lives of his wife and second in command.

As for Freyda’s offer, by the end of Deadlocked we see that Eric is already giving up the power for the love. He’s been fighting the marriage contract since Freyda wrote to him in Dead Reckoning. And that test from Niall, where he told Eric about the cluviel dor, so Sookie would know how Eric would act if he knew she had power? If Eric were really mad for power, wouldn’t he have simply taken it or demanded that she give it to him? But instead he hinted to her that she had the power to make the marriage contract go away – “You could stop this if you chose.” In my opinion, this is what Niall means when he says Eric’s only flaw is Sookie. Instead of acting as a perfect vampire would – taking the last cluviel dor on earth for himself – he hints that Sookie could use it to help them both. That rat bastard, wanting her to use the CD so he could stay with his human lover – how could he?

Additionally, Eric choosing to stay with Sookie will be against what turned out to be the final wishes of his maker, Appius Livius “You won’t keep him” Ocella. While some readers have trouble seeing this, it seems clear as day to me why this is a difficult choice for Eric. A vampire has got to mind their maker – even Bill could empathize with how Eric felt about this. It’s hard-wired into their being, and virtually impossible to resist. Remember Mickey? So I can see how it’s a conflict for Eric to resist his maker’s orders, even after his death. That said, I think we will ultimately see Eric refuse Freyda’s offer in DEA, even though I suspect this will complicate matters with Felipe. And thus Eric will give up the trappings of his world in exchange for sharing Sookie’s life with her. Second promise? Check.

So, what about what Sookie wants? Towards the end of Deadlocked, when Sookie is fantasizing about all the things she’d like to have happen, she thinks to herself:

I had a fantasy that when we got to my house, Eric would be sitting on the back steps waiting for me. He would have ditched all his Nevada company. He would be waiting to assure me that he had sent Freyda packing, that he’d told her how much he loved me, that he never wanted to leave me no matter how much power and wealth she offered him. He would be shooting a final bird at his maker, Appius Livius Ocella. All the vampires in his sheriffdom would be happy about his decision because they liked me so much.

That sounds a lot like Promise #1 again, doesn’t it? The witch Freyda will be defeated, Eric will stay with Sookie, and all the vampires who owe fealty to Eric will be happy about it. Not only that, but how about the offer she makes him the night of her birthday, when he tells her Felipe will punish them if he stays? From Deadlocked:

“Then we’ll leave,” I said quietly. “We’ll go somewhere else. You’ll work for some other king or queen. I’ll find a job.” But even as I spoke the words, I knew he would not opt for this. In fact, I found myself wondering if I would have said it if I’d believed there was any chance he’d say yes. On the whole, I thought I would, though it would have meant leaving everything I found dear.”

That sounds a lot like Promise #2 to me. And much like Sookie felt in Dead to the World that it wouldn’t be right for her to keep Eric from his life, Eric replies that he can’t tear Sookie away from hers. Additionally, Sookie’s reluctance to use the cluviel dor to prevent the marriage and keep Eric with her also mirrors how she felt when Amnesia Eric offered to stay with her – that it would be profoundly wrong to keep someone via magical means. And people think Dead to the World is just a fun little side trip to hot shower scenes and crazy were witches.

Much is also made of Sookie’s desire to come first with someone. While I can understand the sentiment, I don’t think Sookie means that she wants to come first to the exclusion of everything else. Specifically, I don’t think it means she needs Eric to give up his role as Sheriff in order to put her first, no matter that she wished in Dead Reckoning that he was “just an average vampire”. To paraphrase one of my favorite bands, you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes, you get what you need. So just because Sookie wants an Eric who is free of political entanglements, I don’t think she’ll get that – certainly not one who relinquishes all status and responsibility to become a pawn or a loner. And as frustrating as it is for Sookie that Eric has all this bullshit (for lack of a better word) to contend with, she knows deep down that Eric and the Bullshit are a package deal. All relationships require compromise, and Eric and Sookie’s is no exception. And lest you think I’m indicating that only Sookie will have to compromise, I’m not. I don’t think we’ll see Sookie quit Merlotte’s and move to Shreveport to live in Eric’s house, as much as I think this is what Eric would prefer. Sookie is going to keep her life in Bon Temps, and share as much of it as possible with Eric. Ms. Harris has promised us an unconventional HEA, after all.

Image credit

So, where does this leave us for Dead Ever After? We have two characters, Sookie and Eric, who are in love with each other. They’ve essentially made the same promises to each other, or at a minimum have hoped for the same things – the chance for the outside forces that are conspiring to keep them apart to be defeated in some way and sent packing so that they can be together. I’ve already said that I think we will ultimately see Eric turn down Freyda’s offer. I’m convinced he’s been considering it only because it would be a way to avoid retribution for killing Victor. So of course, when the Freyda door closes for good, the Felipe de Castro door swings wide open.

Rethinking the synopsis we’ve seen for Dead Ever After, it’s entirely possible that the reason for Eric’s silence and Sookie’s devastation isn’t Freyda at all, but rather Eric’s punishment for killing Victor. We know Karin will be coming to town, and I can’t imagine any other reason for that to happen other than political maneuvering. Felipe’s grasp on his territory is weak, so I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where it’s good for him that his strongest Sheriff leaves his state to stand at the side of a powerful rival, no matter what Eric might be whispering in Freyda’s ear. The only gain is that Sookie would be left behind; no longer wed to Eric and under his protection, and therefore free to be relocated to Nevada to read minds for Felipe. That doesn’t sound like a HEA for Sookie, now does it?

Obviously, there are still more questions than answers – and it’s a long wait until May. I’m not sure how the Felipe thing will play out, how Karin will fit in, or how ambitious Pam might be about her own position. I don’t know what Freyda and Felipe have been talking about behind closed doors, but I sure as hell want to.

What do I know? That Eric and Sookie have been through too much together to toss in the towel now, and that I remain more convinced than ever that Sookie’s HEA has tall, blonde and dead written all over it.

Dead Ever After – Synopsis for the Final Sookie?

November 16, 2012 in Dead Ever After - Book 13, Sookie Stackhouse

An astute Sookieverse reader emailed me in the dead of the night with an interesting little find from the Rising Shadow book blog. Those of you who were around last year will recall that they had the first unofficial synopsis for Deadlocked.

This synopsis is by no means official, but if past experiences serve as a guide, it’s probably more or less correct. Any changes will just give less away.

Sookie finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…

We learned from Charlaine a few months back that Arlene would appear in the final instalment. Sookie’s being arrested would also tie in neatly with comments in that interview about Sookie’s friends rallying around and things “looking very, very bad” for her.

So…seems legit?

I know there’ll be widespread panic about Eric keeping his distance, and Sookie’s “devastation” on discovering his reasons. Sure, this is meant to look like Eric capitulated to Freyda’s demands and went through with the marriage…which is why I’m pretty sure that’s NOT what happens. You don’t sell books by being that obvious, I’m afraid. Along with the final line (which could be a veiled reference to Eric, but could also just as easily relate to Bill), I’m calling it as one big ole trollin’. Who knows, there’s still time for Bill to show his true colours. Just sayin’.

AND SOMEONE’S GONNA DIE. DUN-DUN-DUN-DHUHHHN. Any takers on that one? It feels like a major character to me.

So what do you think? Let us know below!

Image: alexanderskarsgasm

Charlaine Harris talks Dead Ever After

July 27, 2012 in Dead Ever After - Book 13, Secondary Characters, Sookie Stackhouse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AA8iPPF5hjo&feature=player_embedded

Gollancz UK  have put up this short little vid during which Charlaine answers some fan questions about the final Sookie book, Dead Ever After.

Don’t expect anything too earth shattering in here (anyone notice that she’s keeping things very close to her chest when asked about this next book?!) but there are a few little spoilers:

  • Arlene will make an appearance.  We can only assume she escapes from prison since I’d hope that, even in Charlaine’s world, attempted murder via public crucifixion attracts more than a six month prison sentence.
  • There are going to be a few characters returning in Dead Ever After that Charlaine “is going to bet you never expected to see again”.
  • Charlaine:  ”Almost all Sookie’s friends will gather, because things are looking very, very bad for Sookie…she’s a rallying point for all the people that love her.”



It sounds very much to me like Sookie will be going missing under some rather grim circumstances.
The Maker also answers the standard question about the end of the series:

“Since the second or third book, yes, I have had an overall arc for the books.  I haven’t known every detail or exactly how I’d get to where I was going…but I’ve known where I was going.  And I’ll end up there for sure.”

You know, she’s always been so consistent on this point and when you watch the video you’ll see that she really does mean every word.

Slightly off topic, but for everyone who has emailed or messaged on Facebook to check that I’m not dead, thank you for checking in! I am still around, still following what’s going on. A new business venture (completely unrelated to vampires) is taking up a huge amount of my time at the moment but rest assured, I still have an ear to the ground and will continue to post anything book related and newsworthy here on the blog.

Will Arlene be the final Big Bad? I kind of like the idea of the big bad in the last book being FOTS and Arlene related – it’s like coming full circle, and casting all the way back to Living Dead in Dallas.

So what do you think about Arlene’s return? And who else do you think we might see back in Bon Temps for one last hurrah?

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