Dead Until Dark

A Southern Vampire Mystery

Sookie Stackhouse: 1

by
Charlaine Harris

ISBN: 0-441-00853-4 Order from: Amazon.com

An entertaining, pleasant vampire mystery with a sympathetic protagonist, small-town Southern atmosphere, humor and romance.

Reviewed by David on July 01, 2001

Genre: Fantasy (Vampires, ESP, Alternate Reality)

Synopsis: Sookie is a waitress in a small Southern town, a few years after the vampires have "come out of the closet." The vampires are officially suffering from an "unkown virus", and can feed on synthetic blood now. In reality, there is still a lot of prejudice against the long-lived blood-suckers, and the vampires don't always feed from blood banks. Or willing donors.

Bon Temps, Louisiana, is too small to have a resident vampire. When a very pale visitor comes to town, the locals treat him with a mixture of excitement and dread. However, for Sookie Stackhouse, whom many think slow, Bill the vampire is extremely attractive, not for the usual reasons, but for the sense of calm his presence brings to her chaotic, crowded mind.

Soon afterwards, Sookie and Bill face the disapproval and worse for their unlikely alliance. But when a series of vampire-connected murders shock the little town, a more serious danger appears. Sookie needs to get to the bottom of it—before Bill gets lynched, or she becomes the next victim.

Full Review:
Charlaine Harris reading at Torcon 2003
Charlaine Harris reading at Torcon 2003

The premise and even some roles of this novel are remarkably similar to Hamilton's enjoyable Anita Blake series (Guilty Pleasures and sequels). Harris' style, however, is quite distinctive.

Sookie herself, a lower-class, unskilled-labor heroine, much like Lily Bard of Harris' non-fantasy mysteries (see Shakespeare's Champion for example), is tough despite challenges, and possesses unexpected strength and understated pride. Much less abrasive that Hamilton's Anita, Sookie is an excellent narrator, funny, observant, irreverent. She has strength and weakness in a plausible mixture, and a strong, attractive optimism and enjoyment of life.

The mystery itself is solid, but its investigation is not a particular strength of the plot. Sookie's growth as a character, the small-town society, and the supernatural beings that encroach the Southern culture without altering it form the real foundation of the fantasy.

And a solid foundation it proves to be. In addition to the characters; the style, combining humor with sobriety, and romance with practicality, is a real delight. One anticipates with pleasure the sequels to this enjoyable novel.

Copyright: 2001

Overall: 6.5; Plot: 5.5; Characters: 6.5; Style: 6.5; World-building: 6.5; Originality: 6;

Berkley Publishing Group (Ace), May 2001, Mass-market, 260 pages

ISBN: 0-441-00853-4 Order from: Amazon.com


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