deadeverafter There are very few book series that have had me anticipating the release date of the next book with tremendous excitement. The Harry Potter books, George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Ice series, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series have all made me want to pack my bags, throw in the extra toothbrush and move in with the characters for the duration. Three years ago, another series made my list: Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries. Sookie Stackhouse had me at, “I’m a waitress.” I actually watched the first two seasons of True Blood back to back before picking up the first book in the series. Of course then my bank account took a small hit as I ordered all of the books then in print – in hardback. My husband and two daughters have been just as enthralled with Sookie and the residents of Bon Temps, Louisiana as I have, so when the 13th and final book in the series, Dead Ever After, hits the stands on May 7, we may have to draw straws to see who gets to read it first. I plan on rigging that game.

With the Southern Vampire Mystery books, there is there is a lot of room for literary criticism. Between plot inconsistencies, grammatical errors and what some readers declare as just weak writing skills, I have found myself defending Ms. Harris on numerous occasions. I do not care about all of the little criticisms that for some add up to a dislike of the books. Harris hooked me with the first book and pulled me in. I felt Sookie’s visceral betrayal by Bill. I understood her loyalty to friends and family who were undeserving. I fell in love with Eric while he was under a witch’s spell. And isn’t that what reading and writing are all about? The ability to immerse oneself in the story and enjoy the ride?

I approach this final book as I have other books that have ended a beloved series…with a bittersweet anticipation. So many readers are tremendously invested in this series that the predictions for Sookie’s HEA are rampant. There are already 103 “reviews” of the book at Goodreads that are just basically discussing what will happen to Sookie. Will she end up with Eric, Bill, Sam, Alcide or Quinn? Or no one? We all have our favorites in the Sookie Romance Race. I personally favor Eric, although I would not be upset if she ends up with Bill or Quinn. Sam is too much like a brother with that incestuous “ick” factor and Alcide? Just NO. As hot as Alcide is supposed to be, he has had too many TSTL moments to be a suitable mate for Sookie. The teasers from Ms. Harris state that Sookie will be arrested for murder at the beginning of Dead Ever After. So now readers are wondering just who dies and who is trying to frame Sookie for the murder? My guess is Arlene, but there are too many others that could just as easily fit that bill. Ms. Harris is not squeamish about killing people off. I will be waiting for that answer and others when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on May 7. Will you?

– Mary Skelton