3.5 stars for being the best in the series in a long while.
The Southern Vampire Mysteries. The Sookie Stackhouse Novels. The True Blood Series. Regardless what you call them, (though I would argue against the latter as the books now have about as much in common with the show as Masterpiece Theater,) the books are crap. But they know they’re crap. They’re glorious in their crap. They revel in it. Sookie Stackhouse is junk food reading and I adore her for it.
If you’ve made it twelve books into the series, you know what you’re getting. Sookie will be confronted by two seemingly unrelated mysteries that will, inevitably, be related. A wise side character, probably one with no personality or previous wisdom, will set her in motion to solve both problems with minimal difficulty. And there will be an overarching theme or moral that all other characters will talk about constantly.
If book 10’s theme was “family”, this book’s is specifically “family units”. Sookie’s got baby rabies, which is a shame since she’s still married to a vampire. Tara’s about to have her twins, Andy’s wife’s pregnant, Jason’s marrying Michelle, Sam and Janalynn are hot and heavy, and Sook’s turning 28 with no wedding or babies in sight. It’s all too much for a good Southern girl to take!
This may be why Sookie spends more time making pie, filling out IRS forms, and writing a will, rather than solving the mystery of the dead stripper on her boyfriend’s lawn.
I’d like to reiterate that this isn’t a good book. So many characters are out of character, Eric’s barely on screen, the villain’s motives don’t make sense, and nothing with the vampires is resolved. BUT! Claude is revealed to have been the evil behind several big events, including Dermott’s insanity and possibly Sookie’s parents’ deaths. All the fae are gone, the portal’s closed, and the cluviel dor is finally taken off the table. The door was definitively shut on Quinn and Alcide, is swinging closed on Bill, (he won’t be the endgame if he won’t turn Sookie,) and it’s pretty clear that Sam’s the one that she chooses.
I’ve seen a lot of reviews that nothing happened, but I think that’s a pretty good amount. For the first time in several books, I found Sookie likable again. I thought for the most part, she reacted in a logical manner and didn't fall to pieces. I thought the book was fun, and that's all I ever look for from this series.