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Dead Until Dark

A book by Charlaine Harris

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Vampires and Other Supernatural’s Anyone?

  • Nov 15, 2009
Pros: Well researched and written; intriguing and interesting.

Cons: Slow in places; African-American characters are 2-dimentional.

The Bottom Line: Dead Until Dark brings to life in a new way one of the oldest myths in human existence, one that refuses to die an honored death.

Book Details:
Author: Charlaine Harris
Book Type: Soft-cover; 292 pages
Publisher: Ace Books/The Berkley Publishing Group     
Publishing Date: May, 2001
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-441-01699-0  

First a disclaimer: I had not heard of Charlaine Harris, Sookie Stackhouse, Bill Compton, or any of the characters from Dead Until Dark, until I watched the HBO series True Blood.  By the end of the series’ first season I had become intensely interested in reading the series of books upon which the show was based, and so I bought the boxed set of (7) books, the first of which is of course Dead Until Dark.  The book won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery in 2001.

Dead Until Dark revolves around the life of a small town waitress, Sookie Stackhouse, who makes her home in Bon Temps, Louisiana.  The book and series is a first-person account of Sookie's life as a barmaid, who also happens to be a telepath, after she starts dating a local Vampire named Bill Compton.

In Dead Until Dark, Bill and the rest of the Vampire community have come out of the proverbial closet so-to-speak and into the light around the world seeking to become part of the human world.  Though they can only come out at night, Vampires have made their presence felt throughout society and dating the “undead” has becomes almost fashionable.  And drinking their blood can bestow super-human abilities, or drive the consumer mad.    

But naive Sookie, who lives with her grandmother in the family home, falls for Bill Compton—who was turned right after the Civil War—for himself and he becomes her first lover.  But her association with him brings with it a heap of troubles and pain that is oftentimes exasperated by her telepathic abilities.       

My Thoughts 
Charlaine Harris has woven together a pretty compelling story in Dead Until Dark.  Sookie Stackhouse is a very likeable sort; sweet, beautiful, sexy, innocent, yet she is also written with spunk, and a zest for life.  The book supporting characters, especially Sam Merlotte, the owner of Merlottes, the shape-shifting own of the bar she works at, who she has known for five years and has an unrequited romantic attachment with.  

Dead Until Dark takes some of the old Vampire lore (indeed other bedtime story myths are explored as well) and fuses it together with some freshly minted, but believable ones.  The result is a great read that never fails to entertain.  To be sure there are some slow patches, but they are few and far between.  The narrative is smartly written, though infused with more than a touch of southern comfort and traditional southern African American prejudice, wherein all of the Black characters are two-dimensional and decidedly boring.  No matter, I have come to expect nothing more from today’s crop of writers. 

Dead Until Dark brings to life in a new way one of the oldest myths in human existence, one that refuses to die an honored death.  However, that’s okay, but  Harris makes it all interesting, fresh and new.  So much so that I have not been able to put the book down and finished it in record time; on to the next book in the series. 

Oh, by the way, the book and HBO series True Blood, have some similarities, but there are vast differences between the two as well.  And reading the book (series) does bring broader understanding to both.

Other Books in the Sookie Stackhouse series:

o   Living Dead in Dallas (March 2002)
o   Club Dead ((May 2003)
o   Dead to the World ((May 2004)
o   Dead as a Doornail (May 2005)
o   Definitely Dead (May 2006)
o   Altogether Dead (May 2007)
o   From Dead to Worse (May 208)
o   Dead and Gone (May 2009)
o   A Touch of Dead (October 2009)
o   Dead in the Family (May 2010)    


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More Dead Until Dark reviews
Quick Tip by . September 23, 2010
I like the books better than the HBO show. I think the only thing the show has in common with the books now are the character names it has deviated so much.
review by . July 14, 2010
I'll admit that I have a certain affinity for Charlaine Harris's  Sookie Stackhouse novels. I am actually rereading the whole series from start to finish. There's something about this world of vampires, shape-shifters, and fairies that keeps me coming back for more.   "Dead Until Dark," the first in this series, is a must-read, especially for those of you who enjoy the show "TrueBlood."  For those who aren't familiar with the show or books …
review by . February 19, 2010
So, there's the girl that can read/hear minds/thoughts who meets this vampire (who is "out of the coffin" - stop groaning, I can't make this stuff up, okay?) and falls in love and she gets into trouble and blah blah blah...    The story is pretty well done. I mean, it's the same basic premise of a lot of these vampire romances out there. I'm not still not sure what the allure is (I mean, they are always described as cold and hard as marble and well, I'd much rather snuggle up …
review by . July 29, 2009
Okay. I had to start reading these sometime, and sometime turned out to be now. We had one of those "free trial periods" of HBO a while back, and saw the first episode of True Blood, based on Charlaine Harris's novels. But we weren't impressed. Of course, we weren't planning to keep / pay for HBO, so perhaps we weren't intending to be impressed. But the rows of books in the bookstores, and the myriad reviews on gather persuaded me; I had to find out about these characters.   …
review by . July 26, 2009
Upfront I will say that before I read Dead Until Dark I had seen Season 1 of True Blood so it was an exercise in compare and contrast for me. And this is one of those rare cases where I liked the show a bit more than the original source material, the book. But no matter, I still enjoyed the book and am excited to continue reading the series and watching the series to see what other kinds of adventures Sookie gets into. I've tried to close my ears to spoilers but a few minor things have gotten through …
review by . January 02, 2009
Book one of the Southern Vampire Mystery series introduces young, attractive Sookie Stackhouse, cocktail waitress in a small town in Louisiana. Sookie has telepathic abilities which she and others look upon as a disability. She lives with her grandmother and cat and keeps to herself because she desires silence after hearing other people's thoughts while working. Sookie is intrigued when she meets Bill, her first vampire, not only because he's a vampire but because she can't read his thoughts. Sookie …
review by . December 29, 2008
I love the show so much I had to get the books! The only "problem" with the first book is I already knew most of what was to happen! While Sookie falls in love with Bill, I found myself falling for the elusive Eric, though I'm sure the actor who played him had something to do with that as well! Eric is definitely my favorite character, Lafayette a close second. The only bummer is that while you get swept away with the characters, some of the characters get swept away all too soon! Just shows the …
review by . June 11, 2007
Sookie Stackhouse has a lot going for her; she's cute, she's blonde, and she's got a great build. But she's also a barmaid at Merlotte's with very little money living with her grandmother. And best yet, she's been saddled with the unfortunate(?) ability of being able to read the minds of those around her. For this attribute, she's been labeled "weird" by most folk in her hometown of Bon Temps, Louisiana; and cute though she may be, most men don't find her cuteness worth the risk of entertaining …
review by . June 01, 2007
The opening book in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries, Dead Until Dark is a wonderfully fun, dark, and emotional beginning to a paranormal series filled with vampires, mind readers, and a myriad of other creatures, including, possibly, Elvis.    Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in Bon Temps, afflicted with a unique "disability"--she can read others' minds. While many people would love to have this problem, Sookie sees it as only an annoyance until she finally meets …
review by . April 05, 2007
This book has been popping up in my recommended for you list, forever. I read some reviews and the plot summary and thought it sounded good; but not good enough to make me want to buy it immediately. I added it to my wish list where it got ignored for a long time. Every once in awhile it would pop back up in my recommendation list and I would think about ordering it soon. Then another reviewer, Tom Knapp/Rambles (.net), recommended it to me, so I finally decided to see what this book was all about. …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this book


"An author of rare talents." --Publishers Weekly

"Harris writes neatly and with assurance." --The New York Times Book Review

"One of the year's best." --Science Fiction Chronicle--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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ISBN-10: 0441016995
ISBN-13: 978-0441016990
Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Ace
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