Over the last few books of the series, I've started to wonder if maybe the characters I'd met back in book one had been replaced by impostors. In this novel, the impostors got lazy and now I'm sure of it. Eric has taken the biggest hit having lost his snark and his charm. He and Sookie have also lost their chemistry. Every time Sookie said she loved him, it fell flat. I didn't see any real love on her part.
Ever since Charlaine Harris decided to make Sookie and Eric a couple, Sookie has had one foot out the door, always questioning their relationship whether it be blaming her feelings on the blood bond or questioning what kind of future they could have. There never seemed to be any point where she was just happy to be with Eric. As a fan of this pairing, this is really frustrating. Sookie and Eric don't have to end up together (although it pains me to say it) but I wanted some payoff for shipping them since book one.
The loss of snarky, witty Pam is the second biggest character tragedy in this series and I haven't enjoyed Sookie's voice since she got all serious and philosophical. Also, her holier than though attitude is annoying and hypocritical. As other reviewers have pointed out, Sookie had no right to be angry with Eric for using Terry when she did pretty much the same thing to Bubba.
The plot also failed on several levels. The blood bond was broken way too easily. Not only was it a simple spell, Eric also tells Sookie that vampires have a ritual for getting rid of it which he hid from her. This begs the question of why no one else familiar with vampires told her about it. I understand that Harris was sorry that she created it in the first place (I was too since its only purpose seemed to be to cast doubt on Sookie and Eric's feelings for each other) but she should have found a more creative way to get rid of it.
The fairies have been rendered completely pointless thanks to this novel. This means that I have suffered through fairy characters who I didn't enjoy, nonsensical fairy mythology, and boring fairy politics for nothing. As it turns out, Sookie's telepathy has almost nothing to do with her being part fairy. Instead, it's a gift from Mr. Cataliades that could have been utilized by anyone, fairy blood or no fairy blood (he said as much when he explained the Fintan didn't want him to give the gift to Adele), who had the "essential spark". This creates all sorts of plot holes such as why Barry the Bellboy is also telepathic. Did a demon gift his family with the ability as well? The only fairy connection is that Mr. Cataliades was friends with Sookie's biological grandfather who happened to be a fairy.
The cluviel dor is a deus ex machina waiting to happen. It's an object that grants a person one wish. Sookie's grandmother has had it all of this time but she didn't use it to save her dying daughter and none of the possible explanations in the text justified this. Also, the rules for what this wish can be are nonsensical. For example, it can't be used to cure telepathy. The explanation for this is that "it would be like wishing away your spleen or your kidneys". No, actually, it wouldn't be like wishing vital organs away because humans need those to live while a person can live without telepathy.
I was also uncomfortable with Sookie and her grandmother using the desire for a child to justify Adele's betrayal of her husband. Her infidelity is seen as being less wrong because she wanted a child and he couldn't give her one. I just don't buy it. There are other ways to have children without cuckolding your sterile husband.
This series has really been stressing the importance of children in the last few books with the introduction of Hunter and with nearly every non-vampire female character becoming pregnant. I think the emphasis on children is building up to Sookie realizing that having a child is important to her, ruling out the longterm potential of any vampire love interest, and leading to an ending with Sam (and possibly with her pregnant).
I will continue to read this series because I've invested so much time and energy into it, and because I still derive some enjoyment from it, but I don't have high hopes for the last two books.