Blame Stephenie Meyer and her hugely successful Twilight series for the resurgence in interest in all things Vampire related. Granted, there's no shortage of authors writing vampire book series (Laurell Hamilton and Kim Harrison, to name two) but Meyers is the great star in the vampire firmament of late. Having read my fill of the Twilight series, I recently turned my attention on another author who has long been popular for her vampire stories. And I was very pleased to make my acquaintance with Ms. Charlaine Harris (in a manner of speaking), author of the Southern Vampire series.
Charlaine Harris was in fact, already a well known mystery writer when she decided to turn her hand to the vampire genre. Such was the success of her books that HBO recently turned them into a tv series called True Blood. Since it’s always a good idea to start at the beginning, I picked up Dead Until Dark to begin my journey into Harris' universe.
The principal character is Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in small town Bon Temps Louisiana. She’s goodhearted if a bit isolated from the rest of the people and we learn that Sookie has a gift. She can “hear” people’s thoughts. And the effort of keeping out other people in her mind prevents her from being too close to people. We also learn that in Harris’ world, vampires have recently acquired legal status. Yup, they are now free to move about in the normal world complete with legal rights. The pesky problem of vampires drinking blood is solved with synthetic blood (sold as well in bars) and they’re not dead anymore, just suffering from a disease that makes them allergic to sunlight, silver and garlic. When Bill, a tall good looking (of course!) vampire comes to Bon Temps to set up house, Sookie is overjoyed. Finally here was someone whose thoughts she can’t hear. I suppose its not giving away too much of the plot if I tell you that Sookie falls hard for Bill. Only trouble is, women are turning up dead in town and they have fang marks.
This is the perfect book to read if you’re looking for something diverting and fun. Harris has written a vampire book with some twists. Sookie herself is a refreshingly likeable character, less warrior babe than Anita Blake or Buffy and less maiden in distress than Bella Swan. She’s a waitress but like she says “she’s not stupid or simple or a slut”. Add the fact that the vampires in this world are actually out and about and it makes for an interesting (to say the least) interaction between the humans and non-humans. What’s nice too about Dead Until Dark is that vivid description of a Louisiana small town. Harris is able to capture the nuances of small town life –the gossipy atmosphere of everyone knowing everyone else and their business but also the looking after each aspect that’s sometimes lost in big city living. My thought after finishing the book? I wouldn’t mind going further in the series and getting better acquainted with Sookie’s adventures.