Beware! There are spoilers below!
If you’ve never read the books before, stop – and read them. If you have read them all, it’s safe to read on!
Before the HBO TV show, there was Sookie Stackhouse in book form, namely the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.
Long before Kindles and tablets existed, I was a member of WorldBooks (The Sci-Fi and Fantasy division). I had signed up and got something like 6 books for 1p each and then you just had to commit to buying more books throughout the year. Well, the magazine came one month and I was in a situation where I had to order something to fulfill my membership deal. I scanned the magazine over and over again and then thought I would give this set of 3 books for £15 a whirl. The covers intrigued me. It looked like the best I was going to get out of the magazine. These 3 books were:
When the books arrived, I started reading without much enthusiasm. However, from the first page, I was hooked. I have relations from Tennessee and I’ve travelled to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida etc….it wasn’t too hard for me to picture Sookie’s town, her house, the bar…..I was fully immersed from page 1 of book 1. When I came up for air a few days later after reading all 3 books, I wanted more. These first books are definitely the best of the series – I am just re-reading them now for the 5th or 6th time (I’m up to Dead to the World). So I started looking and found out there were about 2 more books out. I ordered them – one I had to get from the states – and then quickly got up to date. From then on, I picked up a new novel every time I went on vacation to the US to see my family. The last few novels I bought I had to get the tacky HBO TV series covers (booooo!) and were bought from Amazon.co.uk, right up until the series concluded with book 13. By then, I was ready for Sookie’s tales to come to an end. There was a lack of originality, nothing new to add to the mix and little remaining of the Sookie from book 1. I know that character development means people change, but thinking about the last book I read…..it didn’t have me hooked as the first ones did, as the re-read is proving!
Still, I would much rather be in Sookie’s world than most other novels, these days. It’s familiar and fun. There’s humour, action, great writing and fantastic characters. Sometimes, there’s genuinely heartbreaking moments such as Bill confessing to Sookie why they really met and how it was engineered. That scene still reduces me to tears, even now, after many reads. The betrayal and hurt that Sookie feels leaps off the page and thumps into your chest with a boom! Fine writing.
For me, where things started to get tangled and a bit blurry was when the fairies appeared. I think there was just a little too much of them, too much betrayal and double crossing (when you think Sookie has found some kin and happiness at last, but tons of people still want her dead). I liked the back story to Sookie’s Grandmother. I liked the Cluviel Dor. I liked a lot, but there was a lot I could take or leave. Sookie getting almost tortured/beat to death lost its impact after 9, 10, 11 books……we always know she’s going to make it. In the beginning, the attacks and injuries were shocking and upsetting, but later it’s just like yup – Sookie is almost dead again. The Supes will save her. Again.
Having said that, it’s easy to feel Sookie’s pain and frustration at being dragged into that whole world. Like when she’s been through so much but just can’t seem to find a way out of always being caught up in their wars and fights for power and domination. Also sad is the way Sookie’s own mother treated her – again, piognant, well-written and heartbreaking. Thank goodness for Grandmother Adele!
I was so excited that there was going to be a TV show of my beloved book series. The books had been getting more and more popular in the UK and I was delighted other readers were discovering Sookie and her universe. Let it be said that I love the show – mostly. I love elements of it. I didn’t particularly enjoy when it went off canon, or when characters who should have been long dead by book 1 were still parading around in series 5. I liked the introduction of new characters like Jessica and some of the casting was utterly inspired. Having said that, I didn’t let the TV show affect the mental pictures I had imagined about characters and locations. They got Merlotte’s spot on though – I definitely saw that one in my mind!
The series was due to end at book 10. But Charlaine’s publishing house managed to squeeze her for another 3 books, and it shows. I do utterly agree with the way the series ended though – that Sookie was more than likely going to end up in a relationship with Sam. No neat, parcelled up ending. Why would there be? Charlaine knows her readers are intelligent enough to not need to be spoonfed a sugary sweet ending. Sookie was never going to end up as a vampire – she loves the sun too much, and she was never going to be the other woman on the side for Eric. Likewise, Bill never stood a chance because she could never fully trust him again.
There was a huge outcry when she didn’t end up with Eric or Bill, but I just can’t understand why. From book 1, Charlaine Harris lets you know that Sam has feelings for Sookie and she has them too for Sam. They go on a date. There’s love, understanding, friendship, warmth, and genuine affection in this relationship from the very start. Sam was always there for Sookie, was a rock for her in many ways. He helped her whenever he could and he saved her life more than once. Unlike the vamps who betrayed, lied to, used and abused Sookie. From the very beginning I could see where Sookie would go; it was inevitable really. Sookie loved to sunbathe – she likes warm, sunny, bright things. The vampires may have brought silence in her head, but they also took her to dark places where she never belonged. At the end of the series, you get the feeling that she really will get to step out into the light and live happily there.
Here are some of my favourite bits of Sookie art (aside from the Lisa Desimini covers which I love):