on February 8, 2007
So I was in a bookstore and I had to kill some major time and that is how I came across Harris' southern vampire novels. I had never heard of them before so I thought I would try the first one out. Well I read it in a day and went back to the bookstore and picked up the of the series that was availiable.
This book introduces us to Harris' heroine Sookie Stackhouse, a beautiful waitress in a small town bar. Not only does Sookie live in a world where vampires have recently been agknowledge as existing and are open to the public, she also has the gift/curse of being able to read people's minds.
I don't want to give anymore away but I would say that any fan of the supernatural should read this book, especially if you like your stories modern and with a sense of humour.
Currently I'm reading the second book in the series, so I can't really verify that the rest of the books are any good. But if they follow in the footsteps of Dead Until Dark, I think I will enjoy them just as much.
Urban fantasy usually takes place in, you know, urban areas. Cities, big towns, and places where vampires and weres creep in dank alleys.
But Charlaine Harris took a slightly different approach in the first novel of the Sookie Stackhouse series, "Dead Until Dark." While it has many of the genre staples -- werebeasties, vampires and superspeshul humans -- this series is solidly entrenched in warm Southern charm, humor and mellow mystery.
In an alternate world where vampires have revealed themselves to the populace (courtesy of bottled faux-blood), waitress Sookie Stackhouse can read minds, which is more of a curse than a blessing.
But when she encounters vampire Bill Compton, she discovers that she is unable to read vampire minds. Unfortunately she's run afoul of some vile people who want to cruelly drain Bill of his blood, so she charges out to save "the vampire Bill" from his silver bonds and blood-draining. They're mutually intrigued, and an odd little romance starts to bloom.
But then Sookie's life is overturned by some supernatural personal problems -- a coworker dies with fang marks on her thigh, and her grandmother is viciously muredred. And as she tries to find the murderer, Sookie finds that the supernatural world is a lot more complicated -- and close to home -- than she ever dreamed.
"Dead Until Dark" does a great job of avoiding the usual pitfalls of urban fantasy -- it's not all doom'n'gloom, gothic pomposity and angst. In fact, Harris has a fun time spoofing it with the wannabe-seductive, cheesily-dressed "fang-bangers ". Instead, it's soaked in down-home Southern charm, the pleasant little town of Bon Temps, and a generally mellow, relaxed atmosphere.
Of course, it doesn't stop Harris from piling on gruesome murders and some truly nasty people, both vampire (the vampire gang crashing at Bill's house) and human (the "Rats"). Her style is warm, steady and mildly tongue-in-cheek ("the traditional capes and tuxes for the men to many Morticia Adams ripoffs among the females"), but there are some decidedly bleak moments and moral dilemmas woven in there.
Sookie is a likable character -- an unpretentious and no-nonsense waitress who doesn't go looking for trouble, but whose telepathic talents often draw it to her. And Harris handles some horrible topics through her, such as her childhood molestation and her bickering with her slutty, not-too-bright brother.
The supporting characters are also pretty well-drawn -- her kindly boss Sam turns out to have his own supernatural secret (werecollies!), the gorgeous golden Viking Eric, and her lovable Grandmother. Bill is a rather bland character as love interests go, but Harris does give him a great sense of chilly "otherness" and great age ("It's hard for me to get used to young ladies with so few clothes on").
"Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, No. 1)" is a solid, pleasantly down-home little urban fantasy, with lots of vampires, the odd shapeshifter, and some nasty little murder mysteries. Fun little urban fantasy book.
on December 2, 2009
This is a quick, entertaining read. It's got some very sexy vampires and a murder mystery running through it.
Sookie Stackhouse is the main character and she's telepathic. She also kind and sweet and pretty tough. While the world adjusts to vampires coming "out of the coffin" because of the creation of synthetic blood. Sookies works at a dead end waitress job struggling to cope with knowing what everyone around her thinks , when all she really wants is some peace and quiet. In walks Bill the vampire to order some O negative. His mind is silent to Sookie (she can't read vampires minds) , the perfect man - sure he's undead but he's hot. While their relationship grows you begin to understand the stigmas that go with being "infected" with the vampire virus and how those who associate with them are judged. When girls who dated vampires start showing up dead in Bon Temps, Sookies home town, things get interesting. I read the book before HBO started the series and unlike most screen adaptations , the HBO series is great but read the book first.True Blood: The Complete First Season
on February 11, 2004
I give it to Harris, she has orginality, well a little bit. Sookie is expecting the vampire to be an "Antoine" "Francois" and all those lovely french names, who could ever think u can also have a Vampire Bill? Harris continued to create a heroine who is a cry-baby, a little bit nutty, and a weakling instead of the usual Buffy/Anita Blake "tough-as-nails-vampire slayers". I'm not against this part; it's very refreshing to have a more realistic woman who's not afraid to show her emotions or accept help from the opposite sex. But she still kept on with the typical love triangle with a shapeshifter, two vampires, and probably a human on the coming series just like the other vampire series out there. Continuing with the imitations, Sookie is gifted, not just an ordinary human, no-no, that wouldn't be interesting and I have a huge hunch her powers will grow immensely on the 3rd book or 4th book. Nevertheless, I like how she write, it's light, not so heavy and emotional with a faint attempt on humour. It's not laugh out loud funny but she has potential. The mystery is a put-down. You'll figure out the whole thing half-way through the book. BUt I know she'll improve on it. I'll give this 3 stars because Ive read better ones, but I encourage everybody to start the series. I know the characters and the author will become dear to me as I continue to read and learn about their emotions, principles, conflicts, etc..
on December 1, 2003
If you like a fun spin on the whole vampire genre (and a little romance) set in the South no less - you'll like this book.
There will be the inevitable comparisons between the Southern Vampire stories and Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series (of which I am a fan), but they are different. Yes, the main character is female and she does end up in a relationship with a vampire. However, this whole type of theme is not original to Hamilton and Ms. Harris puts her own spin to the world she creates.
First off Ms Harris knows her "South" and all the wacky characters that live there - whether they are human or vampire. These stories, though they have they do have violence and a few nice sex scenes (not as graphic or as violent as Hamilton's series) are not as dark and demented as many books out there.
Sookie Stackhouse has a "disability" - she can read minds. Which instead of making her some sort of comic book hero, is really a problem for her.
Humor! These books can be very funny. Ms Harris has a great wit which just adds to her storytelling. This is a quick read and fun. Buy it, you'll probably want to read it a few times!
on July 31, 2003
A trusted recommendation put me on the path to this book, which turned out to be quite good. Harris takes the classic vampire mythos and puts a clever spin on it, "outing" the creatures of the night to the world at large. Seeing a vampire in Harris' world is like encountering a member of any other minority group -- which makes for some interesting paralells in how anti-vampiric sentiments echo racism. The trouble is, sometimes the anti-vampirism is justified -- there are good vampires, yes, but there are still just as many who see humans as cattle. Achieving the balance between the different temperaments of the undead is not easy, but Harris handles it well.
Sookie Stackhouse, our improbably named heroine, is a great viewpoint character, although her "disability" seems a bit convenient. I hope that future volumes in the series delve into it a bit further, possibly putting forth an explanation of where her power comes from.
Of course, the fact that I'm contemplating future volumes is the best praise I can give this book. I enjoyed it enough to keep reading. Looking forward to book 2.
on July 4, 2003
Dead Until Dark is the first of the Southern Vampire series that introduces Sookie Stackhouse, a sexy cocktail waitress from Louisiana. Sookie is rather quiet, shy, and does her best to live with her disability; being able to read people's minds; i.e. a telepath. Early on in the book, a stranger, Bill, shows up and she is intrigued that she cannot read his mind, and for a good reason; Bill is a Vampire.
Vampires now have a certain status in many parts of the world and are free to live and come and go as they please. Japan has even developed a synthetic blood for them to drink and is stocked in many establishments, including the one where Sookie works. Bill and Sookie have a natural attraction to one another and a romance begins to emerge. At first glance this may sound somewhat corny but that is not the case at all. It is a highly imaginative story with a very nice blend of action, mystery, comedy, and romance. Sookie and Bill are both very likable, as are many of the other main characters in the novel. Charlaine Harris does a great job at developing their backgrounds and the result is a solid foundation on which to base future stories. This book is clever, imaginative, and by all means, fun.
on January 14, 2003
How can a vampire novel fail with so many comic touches? You may, like me, be very tired of Vampire novels. Don't worry. The author just has so much fun imagining a vampire in the 21st century, it's irrisistable! The Japanese have invented synthetic blood, which brings the vampires out of the woodwork, theoretically because they now have alternatives to sucking humans dry for nourishment. Now we have vampires "mainstreaming" into daily (excuse me, nightly) life. And we have Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress in Louisianna, falling in love with Bill.
Bill the Vampire.
The book is just pure entertainment. And you can trust Charlaine Harris to creat a strong, competent heroine. No wimps for her! Sookie is almost perfect. Yes, I might wish she wasn't so naive, but have every confidence that she'll learn. Bill the Vampire is fun to read just to see what 21st century accoutrement he'll come up with next. And a whole host of quirky, sometimes supernatural, characters fleshes it all out.
The reason the book gets only 4 stars? It's odd, because usually Harris writes better than this, but the dialogue feels very stiff sometimes. Considering the deep south setting of the novel, it's very noticable. But it's minor, so it's only worth a star.
If you are entertained by a fast paced, smart and original story, you'll like "Dead Until Dark."
on November 12, 2002
I am an avid reader and when I ran out of my usual fare of Sci Fi, fantasy and Laurell K. Hamilton (people can only write so fast, you know), I went looking for something new to read. Out of all the other stuff out there I decided that Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse sounded least boring and bought her two books. One thing I have to say first to anyone who does the same. Charlaine Harris is NOT Laurell K. Hamilton and I don't think she wants to be. Sookie is NOT Anita and I don't think she was intended to be. Once you get that straight in your head, you can sit back and enjoy a fun couple of books. Ms. Harris' characters are developing (so did Ms. Hamilton's as everyone should remember! Reread Guilty Pleasures if you've forgotten) and I hope they will become stronger as time goes on. Book two is already a little better than book one. Except for her "disability" to hear thoughts, Sookie is just your typical young girl waiting tables at a bar - she's no powerhouse cop or "bonded" with a vampire although she is in love with one. And except for tossing in the fact that Sam is a werewolf (where is she going with that? and why bother?), the books are pretty much just slow-paced murder mysteries with vampires in them. Not scary, a little down-homey, a touch funny sometimes, but also just a nice book to read on a rainy weekend. It doesn't disappoint if you don't expect anything except Sookie Stackhouse and HER world. Oh, and lose the cover art - those covers are for children's books, not adult murder mysteries.
on November 11, 2002
I just finished reading the first two books in this series - and i really enjoyed it! I thought it would be the old cliche - girl meets vampire, girl falls in love with vampire, very mushy ending, but it was original and enjoyable! There were a lot of similarities between this series and the Anita Blake (Laurell K. Hamilton)series - there were the usual vampires, werewolves, shape shifters and other magical creatures, but these characters were incorporated in to the story in more of a humourous and non-cynical way which makes for an interesting read.
It is hard not to like Sookie's character - she's kind and sweet, but not so much that she becomes irritating. The only thing i disliked was her allowing her boyfriend to feed from her so readily - it just felt like he was using her. I would like to see "Bill" the undead boyfriend loosen up a bit - like Eric (who is like the master vampire in town) who is also very much attracted to Sookie.
But all in all i would recommend this series - it has a bit of everything in it, romance, murder, mystery, humour and vampires.