Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris
The Quick Synopsis
Welcome to Bon Temps, a small town in northern Louisiana. Here you'll meet the adorable Sookie Stackhouse, a local barmaid with a "disability," and her boyfriend Bill. Bill the Vampire, that is. Yes, vampires are a part of society in Dead Until Dark, the first book in the Southern Vampire Series written by Charlaine Harris. In fact, vampires have come out of the coffin, so to speak, and live openly - if not fully accepted - in society.
But a series of young women have been found dead in Bon Temps recently and suspicion naturally falls on Bill the Vampire. Worse, it looks as if Sookie might be next on the killer's agenda. Sookie and Bill must find the killer themselves if they want to live happily ever after, if indeed one can live happily ever after with a vampire.
The Literary Criticism
When an author creates a paranormal world like the one in Dead Until Dark, they must also create so-called rules for their paranormal creatures. Fiction about human beings, by and large, need not state their rules because as humans, you and I know those rules quite well. What the paranormal rules are specifically doesn't really matter. What is important is that the author stick to their rules to give the story legitimacy. Harris, I'm happy to report, excels at this (unlike another well-known vampire author who has been all the rage recently), which brings a cohesiveness to the story and keeps you comfortably ensconced in her world.
Harris also creates an amusing vocabulary all her own when it comes to vampires.
They're called 'fang-bangers.'
A vampire's ability to hypnotize?
They're simply 'glamoring' you.
And assimilation, or 'mainstreaming,' into society eerily parallels the difficulties experienced by other minority groups in the American south. As light-hearted as this mystery is, there is a dark undercurrent of small-town American prejudice there for any who care to look for it.
For a reader who professes not to care for westerns or the paranormal, I sure seem to be picking up an awful lot of them recently. But in the case of Dead Until Dark, I'm glad I did. The book is much more light-hearted than HBO's adaptation and the characters are far more sympathetic when you meet them on the pages instead of the screen.
Dead Until Dark could be considered what is often referred to as a light read, but I just consider it plain fun. Enjoyable for a plane ride or a fun interlude between more serious novels, I highly recommend it.
There are currently eight available books in the series. If you suffer from series OCD like I do, you might want to collect them all.
The Southern Vampire Series
- Dead Until Dark
- Living Dead in Dallas
- Club Dead
- Dead to the World
- Dead as a Doornail
- Definitely Dead
- All Together Dead
- From Dead to Worse
Author: Charlaine Harris
Date: May 2001
Other Reviews in Blogland:
The Girls on Books
Stephanie's Written Word
Book Awards Reading Challenge
Passion for the Page