Review: Dead Until Dark

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.

Dead Until Dark is the basis for the new HBO series, TrueBlood.

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.

Vampire groupies?
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.

The Recommendation
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
Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
ISBN-13: 978-0441016990
304 pages
Publisher: Ace
Date: May 2001

Other Reviews in Blogland:
Reading Adventures
The Girls on Books
Stephanie's Written Word
Ciara Stewart
Morbid Romantic
Book Awards Reading Challenge
Thrifty Reader
Passion for the Page
Working Title


  1. This was my first ever vampire read! Since then I have gone on to read loads, but I never realised at the time that it was going to change my reading habits!

    My review is here

  2. I really had no idea such a fun little series was out there! Books just continually delight me. :)

    ps...Marg - Wonderfully written review. It made me smile.

  3. Michele, very good point about the rules in paranormal books. I just read one where the author also did an excellent job with that.


  4. Shana - doesn't it just make a book that much better when the author doesn't ignore their own rules in order to make the plot come together?

  5. I borrowed this from a friend but haven't read it because I started watching the show and thought it was way too gory (for me). Your review is making me think that maybe I should give the book a chance. Thanks!

  6. I should have clarified the tv show and book differences better. They are far different. I thought the show was way too gory, too. The book doesn't have any of that gore in it (at least the first one doesn't...I haven't started the next one in the series yet).

  7. Sounds reallyy cute and those names :) :D

  8. Yet another series for my already overflowing shelves!


  9. I love the TV series and was meaning to check out the books, but now I definitely will! :0)

  10. I hope you don't mind: I posted a link to your review on my review post here.


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