I picked up the first book in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series while still working as a bookseller when the new HBO tie-in cover was produced. The first season followed the book faithfully enough that I think I must have put it down and never finished it. After what I thought was a horrible fourth season of the TV show, I decided to give the book a second chance. Well worth the read.
Dead Until Dark introduces us to Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in small town Louisiana. Though a very beautiful woman, Sookie has no real social life to speak of and lives with her grandmother, who raised her after her parents were died when she was young. Sookie has a “disability”, she can read people’s thoughts, so she is not the most popular person in her parish.
One day a handsome stranger walks into the bar where Sookie works and she excitedly realizes he is one of the vampires she has heard so much about. You see, in Harris’ fictional world almost everything is the same as the world we know, except vampires are real and they recently “came out of the coffin” thanks to the invention of synthetic blood.
Sookie becomes more fascinated when she realizes she cannot read the vampire’s thoughts. A nearly fatal incident in the parking lot after their first meeting finds Sookie actually saving the vampire, Bill. This starts up a relationship that is unusual in the premise, but actually quite a standard, though enjoyable, romance as a whole.
Several “fang bangers” (humans who offer themselves to vampires) are found strangled, and Bill and some of his vampire companions find themselves suspected and in danger. When Sookie herself becomes a target for the serial killer she has to protect herself and her new love.
I found Dead Until Dark to be quite a good read. A fan of the TV show, I was surprised how much more I like the Sookie and Bill of the book than the series… or at least the series over the last couple seasons. Sookie is a solid female character- not foolishly strong willed, but not missish either. Bill is still the Southern Gentleman he was when turned into a vampire over 100 years before, but he is a vampire. He often shows cruelty and a lack of human sympathy. Still, they are very likable as a couple it makes the story a fun, exciting read- vampire Elvis (read it, you’ll get it) and all.