Dead Until Dark

By Charlaine Harris

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Ace Books, 2008, 2001

Genres: Mystery, fantasy, dark fantasy, contemporary fantasy, paranormal, romance, paranormal romance, horror, vampire

Series: Southern Vampire Mysteries (Sookie Stackhouse); 1

ISBN: 9780441015979

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 312

Setting: Bon Temps, Louisiana

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: When the vampire Bill Compton returns to Bon Temps, LA after over a century of travelling, he immediately catches Sookie Stackhouse’s attention.  Sookie is a cocktail waitress at Merlotte’s Bar and has a unique disability; she’s telepathic.  She constantly has to keep her mental guard up or she can hear other people’s thoughts – but not with Bill.  With him, all Sookie hears is silence, which makes him very appealing to Sookie (she doesn’t like being able to hear other people’s thoughts).  Unfortunately, right around the time Bill shows up in town, Bon Temps has its first murder in years.  As the bodies continue to pile up, tensions arise between humans and vampires and Sookie, with her unique talent, is caught in the middle.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: The book begins with Bill walking into the bar where Sookie works; it’s only a few pages after this that Sookie is saving him from being drained.  The fast pace is maintained throughout the story.

Characterization: Told in first person through Sookie.  Many interesting people and beings populate this story.  The most important secondary characters include Bill, Sam – Sookie’s boss, Gran, and Jason – Sookie’s brother.

Frame: The dark frame provided by nights in rural Bon Temps (with a serial killer on the loose), is tempered by Sookie’s perspective on life.

Story line: A wildly, fun genre-blended story filled with murder, romance, and lots of action.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Waitresses — Fiction.

Telepathy — Fiction.

Vampires — Fiction.

Louisiana — Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Fantasy fiction.

Similar authors: Charlie Huston, Laurell K. Hamilton, Marjorie Lui, Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs, Jeaniene Frost, Sherrilyn Kenyon

Also, check out NoveList’s Recommended Reads article “Paranormal Mysteries” by Kimberly Burton for additional authors.

Personal notes: I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though I knew most of the story from having seen season one of True Blood.  However, the book is fairly different from the television series, which was a nice surprise.

Other (themes, diversity): Diversity – telepath, gay, vampires, shape shifter, “fangbangers”

Since the series has grown quite long and complex, the author recommends reading the series in order.

Charlaine Harris’ website.

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