Earlier this year I read and reviewed the final novel in Charlaine Harris’s popular Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Ever After.I concluded that I was unhappy with the rushed and forced feel to the ending, although I had suspected that was where she was heading after the previous novel. After that, I looked forward to the publication of After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse with a kind of desperation, hoping that not only would it give me one last shot of the characters and stories I had grown to love, but also that it would provide a comfortable closure which had been missing from Dead Ever After.
After Dead was published in October 2013. It promises to give details of what happened next to all the characters in the series, from the Ancient Pythoness to Bethany Zanelli, and everyone in between, including more details of Sookie’s own happily-ever-after. It takes the form of an A to Z, taking us through what happened to characters after their final appearance in the series. Some characters are very minor, so minor that I struggle to remember them, and I’ve read the series through several time. All the major characters are present though, so we find out what happened to them after Dead Ever After’s slightly rushed conclusion.
The entries for the major characters are understandably longer, although even Sookie only gets three pages, and Bill only one. The entries are concise, and give only a bare outline of the characters story. However in some cases the entries are rather vague, even for semi-major characters – the entries for Barry Bellboy and Quinn are barely more than a sentence, and include hints that we may hear more of them.
For most characters I enjoyed reading more about what happened to them, although of course there are sad and shocking events in the stories told – this isn’t a fairytale world after all. Yet it was the entries for the main characters which disappointed me most – they just served to remind me of how annoyed I was with the rushed ending of the series. They reinforced the feeling that Harris has decided how she wanted to end the series, and this was how it was going to be despite the story not naturally flowing that way.
The book itself is incredibly short. It runs to 195 pages, not including a short note from Harris and a preview of her new book. But many of those pages are blank, or printed with an illustration for each letter of the alphabet, or only include a line or two of text. I read it all in the space of half an hour (well, I managed to make it last a bit longer by stopping halfway through to watch University Challenge), and that was a disappointment. I hadn’t looked at the page count on Amazon, so I was expecting a volume more like the chunky Sookie Stackhouse Companion.
The book itself is lovely though – a small hardback, with a soft matte cover which is lovely to touch, and shiny printed text and image on the front. It will sit nicely alongside my collection of the novels and other books go with the series.
After Dead is a nice gesture, and a must-read for fans, but it is ultimately a let-down like Dead Ever After. The rushed ending is not redeemed by this endnote. The only thing I am clinging onto right now is that the TV show True Blood has deviated so far from the story of the novels that I have no idea what will happen next, so it’s like a whole new Sookie Stackhouse story (although given the crazy direction that story has been going in lately, that’s not necessarily a good thing). Anyway – After Dead: a nice idea but sadly Harris is not redeemed in the eyes of this fan.
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