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.
Taking 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?