Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

For my 3rd review I've selected the 1st book in the Southern Vampires series by Charlaine Harris (aka The the series of books True Blood is based on).

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace Books
Release Date: May 2001
Series: Southern Vampires Series, Book #1
Source: My personal copy

This book was bought for me by a good friend, Thank you!

Synopsis from the back of the book:

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of 'disability'. She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill: he's tall, dark and handsome - and Sookie can't 'hear' a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life.
But Bill has a disability of his own: he's a vampire. Worse than that, he hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble - the murderous kind.
And when one of Sookie's colleagues is killed, she begins to fear she'll be next...

Dead Until Dark is the first book in the Southern Vampire series and what a start it is as well. Since the vampires came out of the coffin 4 years before, Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress at Merlotte's Bar and Grill, has been anxiously waiting for her first vampire customer. So when one walks into the bar and sits in her section she couldn't be happier. The only problem is that he seems to have no interest in Sookie, that is, until she saves his life. The vampire introduces himself as Bill Compton (I had to laugh with Sookie because Bill is just not a name I would associate with dark and handsome vampires). Sookie finds Bill fascinating, not because he's a vampire but because she can't 'hear' him. You see, Sookie is telepathic (although most of the locals just think she's crazy). And she can 'hear' peoples thoughts, or at the very least get images or feelings from the person. But not Bill. Bill in turn is fascinated by Sookie as she isn't susceptible to Glamour (something vampires use to wipe the memories or control the actions of humans).

The storyline involves the murders of 2 girls Sookie knows (an old classmate and a fellow waitress at Merlotte's). The police believe Sookie's brother Jason could be the killer. In an attempt to prove Jason's innocence Sookie begins to look into the murders herself using her ability. With Bill's help she gains entrance to a vampire club both women had visited, catching the eye of Eric Northman (a 1000 year old Viking who is the most powerful vampire in the area) in the process. Something that she will come to regret later on.
The killer is targeting women who associate with vampires and because of Sookie's association with Vampire Bill she becomes the next target. When someone dear to Sookie is the next victim her whole world falls apart.

Overall this is a pretty interesting read. It's a pretty light hearted take on the world of vampires rather than being the dark and sinister world you would usually expect of a vampire novel, though there are parts that stray into that area. Needless to say Sookie is not your average lead character either, despite being 'just a waitress' she manages to attract all sorts of trouble supernatural and human alike. She also hold the affections of Bill and Sam Merlotte (her boss) as well as the interest of Eric (though for him it seems to be purely business). Also the vampire politics involved were new to me and held my attention as it was different to anything else I'd ever come across, it'll be interesting to see how that works in more depth in books to come. Vampires are not the only supernatural creature involved.....someone is keeping secrets about who they truly are and looking at the rest of the books in this series..vampires were only the beginning.

The only problem I had with this is that the ending was a disappointing conclusion to the serial killer aspect, with Sookie more accidentally discovering the perpetrator rather that finding clues in order to figure it out. Plus whenever Sookie is injured it's just a case of 'here, have some vampire blood' and then everything's back to normal which seemed a bit pointless to me.
Despite this I would recommend this book to fans of the Vampire genre.

My Rating: 3.5/5

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