Book Review: Dead Until Dark (Meet Sookie Stackhouse, a Favourite Book Heroine of Mine)

I started reading the “True Blood” books five or six years ago after catching the first season of the TV adaptation. Charlaine Harris’s depiction of the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, her smart, unique leading lady, Sookie Stackhouse, and the vampire shenanigans drew me in from the opening pages. I enjoyed hanging out at Merlotte’s bar with Sookie, Sam, Arlene and the other residents of Bon Temps.

dead until darkTaking advantage of the recent hint of sunshine, I spent my lunch breaks and the weekend sitting outside with Dead Until Dark and a cup of tea, going back to the beginning of Sookie’s story. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this series, and I’ll be diving into the second book soon.

Sooke Stackhouse – the heart of Dead Until Dark and the rest of the series

Sookie Stackhouse is a twenty-five year old virgin. She spends most of her time waitressing at a bar in town and lives with her grandmother, who raised her after her parents died when Sookie was still a child. Sookie wouldn’t mind some romance in her life. Heaven knows her grandmother wants her to find someone badly, even a vampire will do. But there’s a problem. Sookie is a telepath. When she gets up close and personal with a man, it’s hard to avoid “hearing” him, which kind of puts a kink in any romantic relationship she might like to explore. Who wants to hear what a man is really thinking when you’re getting intimate?

Sookie doesn’t hold out much hope for a love life, that is until the vampire Bill Compton strolls into Merlotte’s one night. For the first time in Sookie’s life, she hears nothing but blissful silence when she’s near a man. She can’t read his thoughts. The relief is palpable.

The Gist of the Story
Just as Sookie’s love life starts to look up, a string of murders in town has people on edge. Women are being killed, and it’s not clear if the culprit is human or vampire. As the police try to figure out what’s going on in their small town, Sookie does her own investigating, kicking off the beginning of what will be a long association with the supernatural community.

Vampire Background

In this series, vampires have “come out of the coffin”. The world has known of their existence for a few years now, and most people are still getting used to the presence of the undead. Some folks aren’t too keen on vampire-human couples. On the opposite end of the spectrum are fang-bangers, humans who enjoy being intimate with vampires and allowing them to feed on them.

The Characters
A lot of this book mirrors the beginning of the TV show True Blood and I did find myself picturing Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer as Sookie and Bill.
Sookie is a ballsy chick and a good person, a woman you’d like to have as a friend, and her mind reading gift makes for some interesting scenarios. Bill is an old-school gentleman who was turned around the time of the Civil War but he bears a lascivious streak that comes out every so often – a combination which had me smirking from time to time. He’s more of a bad boy here than he is in the TV show and I found him pretty attractive.

I really warmed to Sam in this book. I can’t remember liking him so much the first time round, but he’s a decent man, protective of his staff, especially Sookie who he fancies, and has a quiet strength and subtle air of danger. He’s probably the wisest choice of boyfriend for Sookie, and it helps that she can’t read his thoughts as clearly as she can others.
I enjoyed the first glimpse of the Viking Eric and Pam at Fangtasia. Sookie’s womanising brother, Jason, and her best friend at Merlotte’s, Arlene, rounded out the cast nicely.

Setting
Small town settings have always held appeal for me. Bon Temps has an interesting mix of characters, both of the human and non-human variety. The descriptions of Sookie’s home, the long driveway up to the house and the graveyard nearby helped me get a vivid picture of the rural landscape in my mind.

Conclusion

Dead Until Dark
is plain good fun. If you’re after something serious, look elsewhere. This is a summer beach read. If you haven’t read these books yet, think about picking up this one for some light-hearted entertainment, and enjoy spending time with Sookie and the folks of Bon Temps. ****

Have you read this series by Charlaine Harris or seen the TV show? What do you think of Ms. Stackhouse?

***

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16 thoughts on “Book Review: Dead Until Dark (Meet Sookie Stackhouse, a Favourite Book Heroine of Mine)

  1. Hi Emma
    Great review Emma. I love the series too.
    I listened to all the Sookie Stackhouse books on audio and OMG, they absolutely rock.
    Thanks for sharing and taking me back to that world.
    I don’t have cable so I’ve never seen the TV adaptation, but I don’t think I really want to. The images of Sookie’s life are already vivid in my mind.
    Best Wishes
    Jo-Ann

    1. Hi Jo-Ann. I’d like to hear them on audio and experience the southern accent.
      The TV show started well but it went downhill after a bit.

  2. Great review, Emma. I admit I haven’t read these books or seen True Blood but I’m familiar with both. The books and show each seem to have a huge fan following!

    1. Thanks Mae. I have the TV show to thank for introducing me to Sookie and her friends. I’m looking forward to making my way through the book series again.

  3. I loved the first book, too, but grew tired of Sookie a few books in. She can be incredibly annoying at times. I was really into True Blood for a few seasons until the vampire authority came into the picture. I just felt that it lost a lot of the sparkle it had in the beginning.

    1. Hey Jen. I think I’ve read all but the last 2 books and stopped because I’d gotten a bit bored. But after a long break, I’m happy to dive back in and hope to finish them this time round.
      Yeah the Vampire Authority were on the side of useless. I enjoyed the first 3 seasons of True Blood, the 4th was okay because we got to see Eric and Sookie together, but after that, meh.

  4. I’m going to say something that isn’t popular. I used to read the books and was excited about the TV show. But the show was nothing like the books! The show, to me, was just one big orgy. I watched it for awhile. It was kind of like a train wreck…you don’t WANT to look, but you can’t help it. I finally got so disgusted, I stopped. But the books are good, at least as far as I got. Lately, I’ve been satisfying my vampire cravings on my fellow indie authors’ books. 🙂

    I guess I just don’t like that much sex and violence (gross violence) when I watch TV.

    1. The show did deviate quite a bit, though I think the first season was true enough to the original material. I do have a friend who considers True Blood porn, so I get where you’re coming from when you say “orgy”. I stuck with the TV show until the end, but the last few seasons were average.
      Maybe you can recommend some indie books with vampires, and your own, of course? 🙂
      Thanks for commenting, Lauralynn.

  5. I started reading this series after watching the first season of True Blood, too. Only gotten as far as book 3. Except for the characterization of Lafayette in the show-loved his character in the show-I prefer the books and definitely prefer the book version of Sookie. She’s a lot of fun in the books ( so far).

    1. Hey Shannon. Yes I love Lafayette in the show. He died early on in the books so unfortunately we didn’t get to see his character develop. I’m glad also how the TV show portrayed Arlene. How she ended up in the books left me unsettled…

    1. I’m finished the second book now and can’t find the third. I’ve gone through wardrobes, under the bed, all my shelves in every room and it’s nowhere to be found. May have to go searching for a secondhand copy this weekend.
      Hope you’ll like them when you get around to this series.

  6. Yes, yes! True Blood LOVE!!!

    I read the first nine books before the TV show came on, and loved the TV series up until series five when it all fell apart and turned into a parody of itself.

    You and I seem to love all the same things Emma 🙂

    shahwharton.com

    1. Ha ha, we’ll have to meet sometime and have a good chat over tea and biscuits.

      You read them before True Blood – you’re probably luckier than those of us who found them after the TV show because you’re able to picture the characters as you please. I’ve got the actors in my head when I read these books, though with Alexander Skarsgard, the image in my head of Eric is rather pleasing. 😉

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