Welcome back to our re-read of the New York Times bestselling Sookie Stackhouse books, by Charlaine Harris. Today we’re discussing the sixth book, Definitely Dead, one of my personal favorites!
Definitely Dead opens with a humorous scene, as Sookie is draped over the arm of a super hot man, who is smoldering down at her. Dream come true? You’d think, but the man in question is Claude the fairy (literally). As we mentioned in the previous book, Dead as a Doornail, Claude asked Sookie to pose with him to help his romance-cover-model career along. As Sookie isn’t the least bit attracted to Claude, handsome as he is, she thinks of Quinn...which apparently gives her the appropriately sexy expression. And who should be assisting on set but Maria-Star Cooper, the were injured by a car earlier in the series. Sookie hasn’t had much contact with the shifter community since the packmaster contest, but she is happy to see Maria Star. Maria is trying to work up the courage to tell Sookie something—that she and Alcide are dating. Sookie is upset, but she maintains her pride and wishes them well. While Sookie wasn’t in love with Alcide, she liked him, and it’s never fun to realize you’ve been replaced in someone’s affections. Maria also informs Sookie that the Debbie Pelt murder investigation is ongoing, and that Debbie’s sister Sandra is the driving force behind the search.
(Side note: Claude is working on a portfolio for use in the Mr. Romance competition, orchestrated by the Romantic Times Bookclub. I’ve actually attended the Mr. Romance completion at the Romantic Times Convention, or “mangeant” as we like to call it, and it’s quite entertaining. What, I attend for work!)
Back to our story, Father Dan Riordan (Catholic Priest) and Father Kempton Littrell (Episcopalian) are having dinner at the bar. The Pelt family has contacted Father Riordan, and asked him to speak with Sookie. They want to talk to her about Debbie, but Sookie refuses, and says that she has said all she has to say. Later, Bill sits down in Sookie’s section, and asks how she’s been. Apparently Sookie’s cousin Hadley had been murdered six weeks before, and Bill had been present when the Queen of Louisiana’s emissary had come to tell Sookie about it (this story appears in the Anthology Bite, published in 2004). Bill offers to accompany Sookie when she travels to New Orleans to claim her inheritance from Hadley.
The next night, guess who walks into the bar? Quinn! Sookie is surprised that Sam knows who he is, but apparently everyone in the supernatural community does. Quinn samples the air, and walks unerringly to Sookie’s section of the bar. She brings him a beer, and Quinn is of course incredibly charming. Sookie asks if he is visiting anyone in the area, and he simply answers “you.” But apparently he needs to speak with her about more than their mutual attraction, and he follows her back to her house after shift (with Sookie’s permission, of course). First things first, Quinn confirms that Sookie is single, then asks her out. She says yes. He then gets to the business part of his visit. The Queen of Louisiana found out Quinn was in the area, and asked him to request Sookie’s services. Her bid would cancel out Eric’s previous request (in Dead as a Doornail). Quinn changes the subject, and they make plans for their first date, to go see a production of The Producers in Shreveport. Quinn tells Sookie a little about himself—that he has a house in Memphis, and is a partner in a company called Special Events, an offshoot of Extreme(ly Elegant) Events. He travels so much that the he has places to stay all over the US, and even has one in Shreveport. Which makes dating him even more feasible. Quinn leaves soon, but kisses her on the cheek when she leaves.
Pam calls Sookie at work the next night, and says that Eric wants to see her. Sookie refuses, and explains that on top of just not wanting to go, she also can’t—she has a date. That makes Pam laugh, and she says “Oh that’s rich...I’m going to love telling him that.” Pam will get a kick out of Eric’s anger. That same night, Andy Bellefleur has a special request of Sookie, as his waitress on his date with Halleigh Robinson. He asks Sookie to hide a ring box in her chicken fingers basket (classy, Andy!). Halleigh accepts, with the stipulation that they get their own home, and not live with his mother and sister. Before he leaves, Andy gets Sookie alone and asks her one thing. “Does she love me?” He’s embarrassed to ask, but wants to know. Sookie answers with the torturous phrase, “She loves you as much as you love her.” Later that night, as Sookie is getting ready for bed, she realizes that something is outside her house—the woods are suddenly silent. Sookie locks the doors, and makes herself continue about her business, though she’s scared to death. And by the time she goes to sleep, the woods are noisy again. Clearly, whatever it was is gone.
Sookie calls Jason in the morning, and while he can’t talk, he says he’ll stop over in a few hours. When Jason arrives, Sookie has lunch ready. He tells Sookie that Crystal, his were-panther girlfriend, had a miscarriage yesterday. She’s very sick, but won’t let Jason call a doctor, or tell the packmaster, Calvin Norris. Jason asks about Dr. Ludwig, the supernatural doctor that has treated Sookie on occasion. After a series of questions to prove her identity, Dr. Ludwig agrees to come, and soon arrives in a Cadillac chauffeured by the were Amanda. After Amanda asks why Sookie isn’t going to Crystal, she realizes it must seem callous not to visit. But Sookie doesn’t care for Crystal, and the feeling is mutual. And to add yet another thing to her day, when Sookie gets to work, she finds that Father Riordan has ambushed her with a visit from Debbie Pelt’s family. The parents, Barbara and Gordon, and Debbie’s younger sister Sandra are waiting. By listening in, Sookie realizes that Sandra is a full were like her parents, and both she and Debbie were adopted. Sookie explains to them that Debbie was engaged, and had no right to be angry if Sookie were dating Alcide. And she goes on to say that she has cooperated in every way possible, and they need to leave her alone now.
As Sookie is speaking, Sam walks out to the bar. Sookie knows something is wrong, excuses herself, and the Pelts leave. Holly’s little boy, Cody, is missing from school, and no one knows where he is. Sookie knows she can help, so she goes down to the school to investigate. Andy Bellefleur sees Sookie, and while he doesn’t like her much, he believes, and waves her on through. He even asks her to help, and Sookie goes into the school, sits down, and listens. The custodian Maddy’s thoughts make Sookie cry, and she tells Kenya immediately to look in the garbage can loaded on the cart. Cody is there, and Maddy yells, “I didn’t mean to!” Apparently Cody had run into the school, tracking pollen all over her clean floor. She yelled at him, and he was so startled that he tripped, hitting his head on the floor. Maddy thought she’d killed him, so she concealed him in the can. If Cody hadn’t been found quickly, he would have died. To cover Sookie’s part in the investigation, Andy and Kenya agree that Kenya just thought to look in the can, as it was the only area unsearched in the school. Now Sookie’s in a tough position—Andy is seeing the benefit of using her to solve cases. But defense comes from an unexpected source, Kenya’s partner, Kevin. As he says, “she’s not a magic 8 ball.” Sookie tells off Andy, and goes back to the bar. Holly has left with her BFF Danielle, to see her son, so Sam calls in a new waitress, Tanya Grissom, as a replacement.
Calvin Norris visits when Sookie is finished with her shift, and thanks Sookie for saving Crystal’s life. He also casually mentions that Jason and Crystal will be marrying, which is news to Sookie. Finally, he asks Sookie what turned her off him, when she visited his house. He’s seriously interested in pursuing her, and can’t fix the problem if he doesn’t know what it is. She shares that she knows about his daughter. Calvin confirms that he has three other children by three other mothers as well. Because he’s pureblooded, it’s his duty to carry on the line—only the first child of a pureblood couple is a were. But now that Calvin’s done his duty, he wants to mate for life, and would like to bring new blood into the pack—Sookie. He says “I like you. And you’re real pretty. I’ve watched you at the bar for years. You’re nice to everyone, you’re a hard worker, and you don’t have no one to take care of you like you deserve. And you know about us.” Sookie explains that she’s just too human to have such an arrangement, but she hopes her decision won’t affect Jason’s treatment within the pack. Calvin shakes her hand formally as he leaves, signaling the end of his courtship. And while Sookie had never seriously considered his offer, the thought of a steady husband was tempting. But what struck Sookie the most about Calvin’s news was what it revealed about Alcide’s position in the pack as well. And Sookie cries.
The next day, Sookie lays out for a while (did I mention that she loves the sun?) and runs some errands, then gets ready for her date with Quinn. But when the doorbell rings, it’s not Quinn standing there, but Eric. He has come to find out why Sookie didn’t answer his call. Eric, in his own way, is flustered and frustrated, and says “I am sheriff. You...you are in my retinue.” Had he been thinking properly, he would not have said that to Sookie. Sookie informs him he’s been outranked by the queen, and she will travel to New Orleans under her orders. Just then, Quinn drives up, and informs Eric that Mr. Cataliades (he’ll come into the picture later) recommended to the queen that Quinn would be helpful in a diplomatic capacity. Eric is furious, and says:
“This woman has been mine, and she will be mine.”
Quinn shifted his gaze to me. “Babe, are you his, or not?” he asked.
“Not,” I said.
Succinct, right? And at that, they leave for the show. I can just imagine how Eric reacted. Sookie and Quinn have a wonderful and normal date at the theater. As they walk out of the theater, Sookie notices how empty the parking lot is, and her mental alarm goes off—hostile brain near! She warns Quinn, he scans the area, and steps in front of her. So of course, they are attacked from behind. A half-man, half-wolf attacks Quinn, and another pounces on Sookie. Quinn’s attacker goes flying through the air as if shot from a cannon, and Quinn immediately begins to lift the were off Sookie. But the were continues to hold on to Sookie’s throat, so to set her free Quinn knocks him out. He helps Sookie to sit up, and holds her as she speculates that the bitten weres were on drugs. When he helps Sookie up, she asks about the damage to her outfit. He admits there is a bit of dirt and a scrape, and only at that moment does Sookie burst into tears. It was the last straw, I would assume. I don’t know about the rest of you, but this seems completely authentic to me. You handle a huge, horrible situation, and then it’s a tiny little thing that makes you lose it. But Sookie’s tears have an added bonus of getting the police to treat them with more kindness. Quinn and Sookie speculate that someone hired the weres to attack, and then kiss. As Sookie says, “Going through this ordeal together had probably accelerated our relationship the equivalent of four dates.” As they are taken to the police station, Quinn lets Sookie know (telepathically) that they have to go somewhere else afterwards. In a striking coincidence, the detective on duty is the same one that reported when Sookie and Alcide were dealing with the murder of weres—Detective Coughlin. Last time he saw her, Sookie claimed to be engaged to Alcide.
There is also a younger detective, Cal Myers, a were who had been at the packmaster contest. He’d been Patrick Furnan’s second, and hates Sookie because she caught him cheating. Sookie feels sorry for Coughlin, and warns him not to trust his partner.
After they are finishing with the interrogation, Quinn takes Sookie to a bar called The Hair of a Dog. Once they arrive, though, Sookie tries to walk up to the bar, but it has been warded with a go-away spell, and Sookie has to fight the compulsion to walk in the other direction. So Quinn just scoops her up and carries her inside. As his aura wraps around her, the compulsion fades. All the weres in the bar are infuriated that he has brought a human inside, though. But when Quinn snarls (as loud as the tiger he is), everyone shuts up. The tension is high, until Sookie jokes “We come in peace!” and Amanda the were recognizes her—she’s with Alcide and Maria-Star. Amanda owns the bar, and welcomes Quinn. He explains that they were attacked in a public place, by weres. All are shocked. Alcide asks Sookie if she is hurt—she simply tilts her neck to show the bruises, and plays her trump card “As a friend of the pack, I didn’t expect anything to happen to me here in Shreveport.” Quinn refuses to leave without the pack’s assurance that they will get to the bottom of the attack. He then shows his ability to express himself diplomatically and firmly, but is still about to lose his temper until Sookie waves goodbye to everyone, and makes him leave. The minute they are outside, Quinn grabs Sookie and kisses her, and they have a charged moment.
The next morning, Sookie reads in the paper that the bitten weres died in jail. As if she doesn’t have enough on her mind, Sam can tell that she does not like the new waitress, Tanya. And while Sookie can’t pin down exactly why—Tanya’s shifter thoughts are too opaque—she just has a gut feeling about her. As Sookie works, another vamp sits in Sookie’s section, a new one named Felicia. She says Pam sent her, because Sookie has a habit of killing the bartenders of Fangtasia, and she must come to beg Sookie for mercy. Sookie informs Felicia that Pam was teasing. That Pam. Such a sense of humor! Felicia also shares that Eric has a reputation as a good boss, which is a fascinating tidbit. Apparently Felicia’s old boss was not so great—he was the king of Arkansas, Peter Threadgill. He holds grudges, and is never pleased with what he has. Important fact for us to know, as Peter apparently just married the queen of Louisiana, Sophie-Anne Leclerq. To make Sookie’s day even more frustrating, Arlene, Sookie’s supposed best friend, suddenly starts acting judgey (technical term) towards Sookie. Apparently she’s been attending The Fellowship of the Sun, and even Father Riordan attends.
The next morning, Tanya shows up at Sookie’s house unannounced. Sookie is rude to her until she drives away, though Tanya wasn’t so tactful herself. It’s not clear why she stopped by, and it’s rare for Sookie to be rude without provocation, so we only know that something is not right with Tanya. Sookie thinks she is up to something. After Tanya leaves, Quinn calls. He’s in Dallas—one of his coworkers has disappeared, so he’s investigating. They make plans for dinner the next day. But Sookie’s day is far from over. Mr. Cataliades arrives, the lawyer for the queen of Louisiana. He had shared some interesting information with Sookie weeks before (off page), informing her that “Hadley had left this world, but she’d left it as a vampire, and she’d been the favorite of the queen, in a biblical sense.” Sookie can tell that Cataliades isn’t human, but she isn’t sure what he is. Mr. Cataliades asks if Sookie is ready to return to New Orleans with him. But she hasn’t received his message regarding the trip, and the messenger, Gladiola, never arrived. She was supposed to appear the night Sookie heard someone outside her house. Mr. Cataliades invites a partly human girl to help investigate. Her name is Diantha, she dresses in a way that sounds vaguely like a munchkin, and speaks so fast that all her words run together. Diantha tracks Gladiola to where she lays dead in the woods—cut in two at the waist with a steel sword. Mr. Cataliades has to burn her on Sookie’s property, as half-demons do not decompose. Sookie soon finds out that Mr. Cataliades is Diantha and Gladiola’s uncle. He’s mostly demon, but his half brother Nergal is a full demon, and has had several half-human children.
Sookie must leave with him for New Orleans that night, but she asks if Bill can go with her. Sookie calls Bill and tells him that if he wants to come, he needs to show up in 30 minutes or not at all, despite the fact that Selah is visiting. Then she leaves Quinn a voicemail. When Bill arrives, he doesn’t look too good—he looks desperate. He is also hurt that she wouldn’t tell him about the were attack, and shocked that she is dating Quinn. They arrive at Hadley’s apartment, and while the apartment has been sealed with magic, it recognizes Sookie. She walks in, shuts the door in Bill’s face, and goes to sleep. Sookie wakes to a woman at the foot of the bed, pinching Sookie’s toes and saying “Wake up!” Her name is Amelia Broadway, she’s the witch who had protected the apartment. She’s also the landlady, does magic for supernaturals, and is an exceptionally clear mental broadcaster, which Sookie finds very helpful. Amelia shares that there have been several break-in attempts at the apartment, and also mentions seeing Waldo, the vampire who resented being supplanted in the queen’s favor by Hadley. Between Dead as a Doornail and Definitely Dead, he killed Hadley in the cemetery of New Orleans, and tried to blame it on the Fellowship of the Sun. Sookie uncovered his plan, and solved the mystery. Again, this story appears in the anthology Bite. I hadn’t read the story at the time I first read Definitely Dead, so I was constantly confused, thinking I had missed a book.
Sookie works cleaning out the apartment all day, and just when she’s about to go grab dinner, she discovers something. Bloody towels in the hamper, and there is a body in the hallway closet. Amelia is able to identify him as a werewolf, Jake Purifoy, as he was in charge of security for the queen’s wedding. According to Amelia, Jake came to pick up Hadley the night of the wedding, and may have never left. But that’s not the only problem...Jake’s hand twitches. He’s rising as a vampire. Amelia’s stasis spell must have held Jake’s transformation in stasis also. Amelia calls the queen’s headquarters for help right away, but they won’t arrive soon enough. Jake grabs Amelia and pulls her toward him, Sookie pulling her at the same time. While he bites her, Sookie hits him with a candlestick. He then bites Sookie’s arm as she’s holding him off. Then Amanda remembers she’s a witch, and suddenly Jake has blue flames all over his face. The police enter (all vampires), and for a moment they think Amanda and Sookie attacked Jake, but are quickly disabused of that notion when Jake attacks them. They basically give him a baby bottle of True Blood, and he settles down.
The paramedics take both girls to the hospital. While Sookie is there, she’s surprised to see Eric peer around her curtain. He’s struggling with the pervasive smell of blood and the resulting fangs, and while he claims he just drove to New Orleans to see the queen, it’s clear he’s largely in the city for Sookie. Bill arrives soon after, and antagonizes Eric. He comes to regret it, as Eric reveals information Bill would have preferred to keep secret. Bill is forced to tell Sookie that he did not move back to Bon Temps to claim his inheritance, he came back for Sookie. Hadley had spoken to the queen of Sookie’s gift, and she ordered Bill to return to his human home, put himself in Sookie’s way, and to seduce her. She wanted Sookie’s gift harnessed for her own use. Sookie is so devastated she can barely speak, but manages to tell him to get out, and that she never wants to see him again. When Bill has left, Eric is still there, but Sookie forces her way outside the hospital. She just starts walking. Her expression is apparently so terrifying that everyone moves out of her way. A young man grabs her arm, and Sookie swings him into a wall. She realizes she’s acting crazy, but explains, “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.” Sookie hadn’t realized how much of her life had been built on the false foundation of Bill’s love and regard. She can’t believe she risked her life for him in Jackson. She killed for him. By the time she works all this out in her head, Sookie is back at Hadley’s apartment, so she doctors herself up and goes to sleep.
When Sookie wakes, Claudine is lying next to her, and Amelia is at the end of the bed. When Sookie asks why she is there, Claudine explains that she is Sookie’s fairy godmother. Claudine goes on to explain, “fairies are your basic supernatural being. From us come elves and brownies and angels and demons. Water sprites, green men, all the natural spirits...all are some form of fairy.” Good to know! Claudine is trying to become an angel. After years of being a good citizen, she got a person to guard—Sookie. While Claudine can’t prevent pain, she can help Sookie recover from disasters, and sometimes prevent them. It’s hard to believe, but things would be worse without Claudine around. And she’s not allowed to say why Sookie rated a fairy godmother.
According to Claudine, Sookie doesn’t have time to wallow. She has to shop with Claudine for her meeting with the queen that night, and Amelia suggests they do an ectoplasmic reconstruction to figure out how Jake died. To do the spell, she’ll need four witches. While Amelia prepares, Sookie goes to her meting with the queen. The queen’s headquarters are actually a tourist attraction, and a group is touring as Sookie walks to the main door. A man jumps in front of Sookie and takes her picture—not a good sign. The guard, Rasul, explains that the photographer is a spy for The Fellowship of the Sun, and that they (the vampires) are forbidden to kill him. How disappointing. Sookie tells Rasul that it would be lovely if something happened to the camera, and Rasul says he’ll see what he can do. In return, Sookie will talk to Amelia and see if there is a spell she can do to make the photos all appear overexposed. Rasul also tells Sookie that she smells enchantingly of fairy, a tidbit that will come into play later. The queen’s apartments are guarded by two vampires, each with an ax in their belt—Sigebert and Wybert, Bert and Bert for short. They were Saxons, their names mean Bright Battle and Bright Victory. They queen came to them asked them to fight for her, and they’ve worked for her since that night. Sophie-Ann Leclerq was about 15 when she died, and elegant. There are three other vampires with her—including Peter Threadgill, the king. The other two are not introduced yet, Andre and Jade Flower, but they will be! Sookie tells the queen of recent events, and of Amelia’s plan to host an ectoplasmic reconstruction. The queen agrees to pay, and also plans to attend...not what Sookie was expecting. Peter insists the queen take his bodyguard, Jade Flower, with her. So they all go to Hadley’s apartment—the queen, Jade Flower, Andre (her right hand man), Sigebert, and Wybert. Rasul drives the limo. They move into the courtyard of the apartment complex, the queen protected all the time. The three witches have arrived, a young man who looks like a missionary, a tall woman in her 60s, and another witch in her 20s. The queen and her retinue gather upstairs to watch, including Sookie. They watch the ghostly replay, as Wade stops by, as Hadley gets ready for the queen’s wedding party, and bursts into tears at the thought of it. As Jake arrives to take Hadley to the queen’s party. They see Hadley return from the party in tears, Jake counseling her. Andre reads their lips to translate for the group. After Hadley goes inside her apartment, an unseen hand grabs Jake and pulls him out of the reconstruction—they can only see his feet thrashing. Hadley hears, finds the body, turns Jake to save his life, and hides him in her closet. Then she calls Waldo to set up their meeting. At that, the witches are exhausted, and the reconstruction ends. Now Harris gives us a quick, more in-depth summary of the short story we missed in the anthology Bite.
Waldo lured Hadley to a cemetery with the story of Marie Laveau, tempting her with the idea that the dead can raise the dead. Hadley wanted Marie to answer questions, most likely to find out what Jake would be like when he rose, what to do with him, and she probably also wanted advice on how to regain the queen’s affections. Amelia suggests that someone paid Waldo to get Hadley out of the picture. The queen is upset by this idea, but Quinn drives through the gate at that moment, gets out of his car, walks over to Sookie, puts his arm around her, and kisses her. The atmosphere instantly relaxes. Sookie introduces him around, and tells him what happened to Jake, who is unfortunately the employee for whom he’d been looking. The witches make a quick escape to “get pizza,” and the queen takes Sookie’s hand and leads her to Hadley’s apartment. She then proceeds to tell Sookie all about her early life. She was born in Northern France as Judith, 1100 years ago. A peddler visited town, bringing both his wares and influenza, and within two weeks everyone was dead except for Judith and an older boy, Clovis. Clovis abused her, and began prostituting Judith in different towns for money or food. As they camped in the woods one night, the vampire Alain attacked Clovis and drained him. He thought Judith would be a nice companion, so he spared her, and she traveled with him for three years. But he used her in the same way Clovis had, and kept putting off his promise to turn her. But when a village headman figured out what he was and imprisoned him, Judith made a deal. She told Alain if he turned her, she’d free him. So he did, and they buried her under him in the hut in which he was imprisoned. By the time she rose, however, he had already been burned. The queen (now apparently called Sophie) spared the priest who killed him, and a few years later found an orphaned Andre, who has been her companion ever since.
The queen tells Sookie this so that she will understand why she connected with Hadley. Hadley too had been molested by their great uncle, just as Sookie had been. Apparently Hadley had spoken about Sookie a lot, and once she became a vampire, she understood better what it was like to be a minority. She understood Sookie more. The queen states that she is in Sookie’s debt, and asks what she can do for her. Sookie simply asks for a lot of boxes to pack up Hadley’s stuff so she can go back home, someone to take the rest to charity, and to have someone drive all the stuff back with her in a van. And lastly, Sookie asks if she has to go to the vampire summit the queen requested she attend. The queen insists, but agrees to pay her well. Lastly, Sookie asks the queen if she would like a remembrance of Hadley’s. The queen (obviously hiding something) asks Sookie to keep an eye out for a jewel given to her by her husband as an engagement gift, a large diamond fixed on a platinum bracelet. If the queen doesn’t get the bracelet back, it would be a very serious offense to the king.
To hide their discussion from the king’s lackey, Jade Flower, the queen insists that they pretend Sookie and Andre had sex. As they set up the ruse, mussing their clothing and placing lipstick prints, Andre comments to the queen, “I love the smell of fairy. Do you think she knows she has fairy blood?” Sookie finds that hard to believe, so to confirm, Andre jabs her arm with a fingernail, tastes the blood. According to Andre, Sookie does indeed have a fairy in her ancestry. Fairies are attractive to humans, though they don’t find their blood irresistible, like vampires. And other supernatural creatures are particularly attracted to fairies as well. Almost the first thing Sookie thinks, when hearing this news, is “Wouldn’t Eric be relieved? He would be so glad to know he didn’t really love me! It was the fairy blood all along!”
After that informational bomb, the three walk out looking tousled, and the vampires drive away. Quinn walks right up to Sookie, and furiously asks how the queen talked her into sleeping with Andre. Sookie corrects his error, and Quinn immediately calms down, and kisses her. They are interrupted by the ring of Quinn’s phone—Jake is asking for him. Quinn has to leave, but first he asks Sookie if she would have continued with that kiss if he had stayed. Sookie explains that she’s not a one-night-stand kind of person, and she wants to be sure that he’ll be around for a while, and likes her for who she is, not what she is. Quinn leaves with the perfect line, “Who would want just one night with you?”
The next morning, a young man (Everett O’Dell Smith) arrives with boxes for Hadley’s stuff, Sookie’s request from the queen. Everett will assemble the boxes, and run errands for her. Quinn arrives shortly thereafter with food, and begins to help assemble boxes. He helps her pack, and they flirt wordlessly all the while. Then Quinn kisses her, and things progress almost as far as they can go, before Sookie hears enemies walking up the stairs. Quinn goes into fighting mode, with claws on his hands and his eyes golden. Sookie lifts a lamp from its pedestal, and when the first werewolf bursts through the door, hits it over the head. Unfortunately there are eight more, and Sookie and Quinn are eventually overwhelmed. They are restrained with duct tape, and carried out to a van. While their captors are driving, Quinn thinks to Sookie that he has a phone in his pocket. After much maneuvering, she is able to get it, and call the queen’s headquarters. Before their captors take the phone, Quinn is able to say, “Quinn and Sookie have been taken by some weres. Eric Northman can track her.” Eric has had Sookie’s blood. Their captors grab the phone, and then search Quinn and Sookie thoroughly for any other things—taking the time to touch Sookie inappropriately while they’re at it. But at that, Quinn snarls so scarily that the guys leave her alone. They put them both back in the truck, though. Quinn is bound, Sookie is not. Quinn has also partially changed, mostly in his face. It takes a lot of power not to change fully, and if he did, there wouldn’t be room for Sookie—his tiger form is seven feet long and four hundred pounds. Quinn uses his canines to bite off Sookie’s restraints. It’s a painful process, as he can’t avoid biting her wrists at the same time. With Sookie’s hands free, she frees Quinn’s feet, then finds a screwdriver to work a hole in the duct tape by his hands. And lastly, she pushes the screwdriver through the slats of the crosshatched metal separating the front of the car from the back, and into one of her captors’ cheek. They pull the car over, and the instant it stops, Sookie and Quinn are out and running into the woods. They get to a swamp (it’s Louisiana after all), and while beautiful to look at, they aren’t fun to walk in...snakes and alligators, etc. Soon they are swimming, and are able to talk a tiny bit while they do. Quinn is upset that he couldn’t do anything to save Sookie—he takes protecting her very seriously. Sookie says “It was one of God’s mysterious imbalances that men are stronger than women. My grandmother told me it was his way of balancing the scales, since women are tougher and more resilient.” Great line. Either way, Quinn recovers from his funk, particularly after he saves them both from a snake and is able to carry Sookie through the water, and onto shore. Though they are out of the water, it is pouring rain, and has been the whole time. Since they are stuck until help arrives, Quinn takes a moment to ask Sookie about her relationship with Alcide Herveaux, since Detective Coughlin had thought they were engaged. And that’s when the light bulb goes on in Sookie’s mind, and they make a plan.
Quinn changes into a tiger, and tracks their enemies to another area of the swamp, a house in a clearing. Sookie creeps up to the house and looks in the window, and there are the Pelts—Barbara and Gordon sitting on the couch, with Sandra pacing in front of them. There is also a chair with handcuffs and duct tape, presumably waiting for Sookie. Unfortunately, Sookie next looks into a window where a man looks right back. She scares him half to death, and his scream alerts everyone else. Sookie’s response? “Well...eff.” Sookie jumps in the house, stuns the man, and uses all her experience in bar fights to tackle Sandra to the ground. At that moment Eric arrives, and asks to be invited in. He takes charge of Sandra, and informs Sookie that Quinn has taken down the abductors, while Rasul handles the Pelts. According to Eric, Sookie has another fan in Rasul. Sookie believes it is because of the fairy blood, and says so. Eric responds with “That explains a lot”—which hurts Sookie’s feelings. She asks, why can’t a guy just like her for herself, not her blood? But Quinn does, and says so.
The Pelts admit that they were going to capture and torture Sookie until she told what she knows, and they are convinced that she does know something. They are right. Sookie turns to Eric for advice and asks him what she should do, and he nods a “go ahead.” So Sookie tells them everything. The Pelts agree that it sounds like Debbie, and admit to arranging all the were attacks. And in an interesting aside, they also had sent Tanya to Bon Temps. She is a werefox and a member of Debbie’s original family. She moved to Bon Temps to try to investigate, but now might stay because of Sam. But when Sookie asks about Gladiola, the Pelts know nothing about her death. Finally, the Pelts agree to leave Sookie alone, as long as she won’t report them, and they promise to make Sandra abide by their agreement as well.
The next night, Amelia lends Sookie a dress, and Bob does her hair (Bob is a hairdresser at a funeral home) for the queen’s party. Quinn picks her up, but when they arrive, the building doesn’t feel safe—it’s rife with tension. When Sookie walks through the mansion’s security, she obviously has a plan that we readers don’t yet understand. She makes a suspicious stop in the restroom to rearrange her bandage, and had also spent the day calling gas stations all the way from New Orleans to Bon Temps. We finally find out what she’s up to, when she manages to sneak the lost bracelet (found in Hadley’s coffee container) to the queen, via a handshake. Sookie also informs Mr. Cataliades that Jade Flower, the king’s bodyguard, was seen at a gas station on the way to Bon Temps, close to the time that Gladiola died.
The king asks the queen to dance, and while they waltz, he also asks her to show off her bracelets. He’s clearly furious that she has them both, as it saves her from a lawsuit and the loss of all her possessions. He’s lost his change for a legal battle, but not a physical one. As Sookie dances with Quinn, a head comes flying by Quinn’s shoulder. It’s Wybert’s, and suddenly there is a lot of screaming and movement. The queen and Andre are standing back to back in the middle of the floor fighting, then Eric tackles Sookie, claiming he’s “protecting her.” But since nobody is coming after Sookie, Eric goes off to join the fight, tossing Wybert’s head into the fray, and begins showing all the skills with a sword that he has learned in his 1,000 years. But then Jade Flower grabs Sookie by the ankle, and drags her through the blood on the floor. Jade’s leg is missing, so she can’t get up, but she’s still strong enough to capture Sookie. Until Sookie kicks her in the face and Bill decapitates her, that is. Sookie, in an effort to get her human self out of the mansion, tries to find a way to escape, and walks through the Queen’s apartments. There the queen lies wounded on her bed, Andre holding the king at swordpoint. And while the queen bemoans the fact that they would have to pay a fine for killing the king, they do so anyway. Andre carries the queen out, as Sookie runs. Quinn-as-a-tiger joins her shortly after, and he and Sookie climb over the wall together. By together, I mean Sookie stood on Quinn, climbed to the top, and fell to the ground on the other side. Sookie’s reaction?
“Here I was, lying on a sidewalk in historical New Orleans, with my boobs hanging out of my dress, my hair coming down, my sandals on my arm, and a large tiger licking my face.”
And yet she’s calm, and ready to find a way home. Fortunately the queen is there to drive Sookie and Quinn. When they arrive at Hadley’s apartment, Amelia is waiting. She mentions that she might want to rent the extra room in Sookie’s Bon Temps house—she needs to get out of New Orleans. Apparently she had a little accident with her boyfriend Bob. As in, she turned him into a cat. Sookie likes cats, so it’s fine with her. Quinn is glad to hear that—he was too tired to change completely, and still has a tail.
As Quinn is in the shower, Bill arrives and knocks. Sookie sits on the porch with him, and allows him to speak his piece. He just wants to say one thing. “I loved you. I love you.” While the queen had sent Bill to Sookie, he claims to really have fallen in love with her. But Sookie says “I love you” isn’t a magic formula. She still doesn’t want to see him again, still can’t trust him again, and still will never open her heart to him again. She locks the door, goes to bed, and cuddles with Quinn.
The next day, Sookie leaves for Bon Temps, Amelia following in her little car.
And that is the end! Several mysteries wrapped up, and another to follow shortly in the next book, with the vampire summit. And now for a little discussion.
While this book doesn’t have quite the same level of drama as the packmaster challenge or other various events in Sookie’s life, this still is one of my favorite novels in the series. I’m hard pressed to tell you why, really. It might be because Quinn is one of my favorite characters. Or it might be because we see Sookie’s ability to do good in everyday situations, like with Holly’s little boy, Cody. Or it might be because Sookie stands up for herself so masterfully, so many times, and yet can so well diffuse a tough situation, like at The Hair of the Dog. Or it might just be because we find out she has fairy blood. How cool is that?
But let’s get back to the basics. While I now am much more aware of the supplementary nature of stories published in novellas, when I first read Definitely Dead in 2004, I somehow missed the memo of the story in Bite. All the mentions of Hadley seemed to come out of nowhere, and I must have researched at least three times to confirm I wasn’t missing a book. Though we do get a summary, in this case, I find that reading the short story is pretty essential to the full picture of the novel (a la Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega short story).
Besides hearing more about Hadley’s than we ever have, we also meet several new characters. Amelia the witch, for one. When she first meets Sookie, Amelia speaks fairly condescendingly to her regarding the supernatural world, as if Sookie would know nothing about such matters. She pulls out a pack of Tarot cards to do a reading for her, but stops in the middle, embarrassed. She realizes that Sookie isn’t entirely human, and Sookie scares her even more by answering questions she hasn’t asked yet. Sookie is sorry to frighten her, but at the same time believes that Amelia needed to be taken down a peg by someone who didn’t wish her actual harm. I agree. When we first met Amelia, I found her more annoying than charming. She’s overconfident, brash, and completely tactless. She turns her own boyfriend into a cat, and can’t turn him back! But in later books, we will grow to appreciate her character more, so I will cut her some slack for now.
Eric struggles in this book, both with his feelings for Sookie and how to properly express them. Sookie herself isn’t sure how she feels. In the first few chapters, as she is driving around town,
How nice would it be if Eric were here with me in the car....he’d enjoy the moment. Well yeah, before he burned to a crisp. But I realized I’d thought of Eric because it was the kind of day you wanted to share with the person you cared about, the person whose company you enjoyed the most. And that would be Eric as he’d been while he was cursed by a witch....Eric as he would never be again.
This is part of Eric’s conundrum. He wanted to stay with Sookie when he was without his memory, but the real Eric cares about her as well. Do you think Eric is confused about how Sookie feels about him, or just concerned about his own feelings? Does he truly want to explain it away through Sookie’s fairy blood?
As for Alcide, Sookie cries when she realizes a relationship with him will never happen. All I have to say is, why? While Alcide was great at first, he quickly showed himself to be unworthy of her regard. He continued a relationship with Debbie long after Sookie told him of her actions, he tried to blackmail Sookie into helping his father, and he blamed Sookie for her father’s death—something she could not prevent. In my opinion, Alcide does not deserve one little tear. Do you agree?
Quinn is almost perfect. So much so, that when Sookie is with him, she says:
I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was waiting for that moment—you know the one I mean—the moment when your date suddenly confesses to something you just can’t stomach: he reveals himself as a racist or homophobe, admits he’d never marry anyone but another Baptist (Southerner, brunette, marathon runner, water), tells you about his children by his first three wives, describes his fondness for being paddled, or relates his youthful experiences in blowing up frogs or torturing cats. After that moment, no matter how much fun you have, you know it’s not going anywhere.
So true. Anyways, the other shoe may drop in the future, but in this book, Quinn proves himself to be pretty darn great. When he confronted the weres at The Hair of the Dog, he told them Sookie was under his protection, and that they harmed her at their own peril. He accused them of being behind the attack, but at the same time reminded them that they were responsible for justice. He’s diplomatic, but also strong. When Detective Coughlin comments on what a nice-looking couple Sookie and Alcide made, he knows Quinn is standing right there. Quinn simply responds, “Sookie is pretty no matter who she’s with.” A nice compliment, but it also shows that Quinn remains calm despite provocation. He does at first believe Sookie slept with Andre, but instantly believes her explanation. And while he is frustrated that he was unable to save her from their were captors, he quickly calms down and is once more his pleasant self. While we don’t know much about Quinn’s history yet, his personality is a nice break from Sookie’s more volatile lovers. What do you think?
While Mr. Cataliades and Diantha are fascinating characters, and will continue to play a role in future books, the queen is the most well-developed new character in the series. We hear her history, we know of her love for Hadley—she even sees Sookie’s tears for Bill and mentions her own grief. And while the queen is undeniably powerful, I find it most interesting that Eric hasn’t claimed a kingship for his own. He serves Sophie, but is almost as old as she. He is powerful also, but perhaps just not as ambitious?
As for Bill, well, their relationship will never be the same after the revelation of his service to the queen. What a betrayal! Even after Bill explains that he really does love her, Sookie still wonders as she drives back to Bon Temps, “Maybe Bill would go on a long trip. Maybe a stake would accidentally fall on his chest while he was gone.” I’d say that means he’s not forgiven, wouldn’t you?
And lastly, Sookie. After Tanya surprises Sookie at her house, Sookie realizes “In the past year, somehow I’d assumed the role of guardian of the weird in my little corner of our state. I was the poster girl for interspecies tolerance.” What a perfect way to describe it. Sookie is involved in almost every aspect of the supernatural community in Bon Temps, in a way that no one else is. She knows weres and shifters, fairies and vampires, witches and half-demons. But all this comes with a cost. When Quinn takes Sookie’s hand to pull her off the couch, she thinks, “His own hand was warm and hard. He could crack my bones with it. The average woman would not be pondering how fast her date could kill her, but I’ll never be an average woman.” Very true. Sookie was never an average woman, and her involvement in the supernatural community has given her a greater awareness of death, a willingness to kill, and a will to survive that is incredibly strong. But in the most important ways, Sookie remains unchanged—still an unselfish, loyal, unmaterialistic waitress. Though Sookie could have asked the queen for anything (up to half her kingdom, perhaps?) she only asks for help packing up Hadley’s things, and transporting them back to Bon Temps. She doesn’t ask for money or position, though money wouldn’t hurt. But they do not motivate her. And in today’s materialistic society, that is a hugely attractive quality. What do you think?
Join us next week for the 7th book in the series, All Together Dead.
Whitney Ross is an editor at Tor Books. In her free time, she’s also a book collector, wannabe jetsetter, and Starbucks junkie, and enjoys competitive sports such as skiing and shopping.