Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Winner: Anthony Award, 2001, New York Times Bestseller
Series: #1, Southern Vampire Series
Original Publication: 2001
I read this at the behest of my mom and several friends who enjoyed it. It certainly fits in with the current vampire craze in pop culture, but I daresay it’s aimed a little more toward grownups than is the Twilight series. In this series, although it is not explicitly discussed, legislation has passed which enables vampires to be accepted as members of society (and not persecuted), and as a result, many of them are choosing to “mainstream”, or live in polite society as much as is possible.
Our heroine is Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana with a twist – she can read minds. Her gift makes the people in her hometown nervous, and she represses it most of the time, opting not to “listen in” on people. When handsome vampire Bill Compton walks into her bar one night, she is intrigued by the fact that he is a vampire (they don’t get too many in Bon Temps), but completely blown away by the fact that when she listens in on his mind, she hears nothing. His mental ‘radio silence’, as it were, makes him irresistible to her because he is the first person she is able to truly relax around.
A few more vampires invade Bon Temps, and young girls in the service industry (like cocktail waitresses) start turning up dead. Sookie finds herself caught between two suspects – new beau Bill, and her own brother, Jason. Then, the grandmother Sookie lives with is murdered; Sookie being the intended target. She knows in her heart that neither Bill nor Jason would kill her (or her gran), so she starts listening in on the bar patrons, trying to figure out who did it. Her psychic gifts bring her to the attention of a pack of very dangerous vampires, and Bill is the only one who can protect her.
Without giving too much more away of the plot, I enjoyed this book. It was a quick, fun read with supernatural themes, and Sookie is a fun character. There’s even a shapeshifter, and an ‘Elvis hasn’t really left the building’ joke for good measure. I enjoyed it.
Fun Fact: HBO’s “True Blood” TV series is based on this book series. I cannot vouch for it as I have not seen it, but Anna Paquin plays Sookie Stackhouse and I generally think she’s a pretty lousy actress, so I’m in no hurry to check it out. Still, I’ve heard it’s pretty entertaining.
Bother if: You’re a fan of the girl-meets-vampire genre. These are definitely a smarter read than the Twilight series. Fans of True Blood or murder mysteries might also enjoy.
Don’t Bother if: You’re on team “I’m so sick of hearing about vampires I could puke.” While the vampires are far less emo weiner-y than Edward, they’re still essentially vampires in a romance novel, even if it disguises itself pretty well as a murder mystery.