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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
review by . June 22, 2010
     Sookie Stackhouse is just a barmaid in the ordinary small town of Bon Temps.  Although, there is something that is not so ordinary about Sookie, she is a telepath.  At this point in her life the only thing she has to complain about is not being able to date a normal guy.  How would you feel knowing that your date was thinking about you in bed or he doesn't like your hair or you butt is too big?  Not that big of a deal, right?  HA!  So …
review by . June 21, 2010
This is the first novel in the Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse novels. True Blood is based on this series of books and fans of the show would be remiss to skip the source material.      Told in first person from the perspective of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid in backwoods Louisiana, we are thrust into a world in which vampires have come out to the public. Vampires are now integrating themselves into human society, often with humorous …
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 . July 02, 2010
   The book Dead Until Dark was the first book in the Charlaine Harris series and it introduced Sookie Stackhouse. She is not only a waitress, but she is also telepathic, which makes it very interesting and at times, funny, to see what the people around her are saying. The book takes place in a fictional town called Bon Temps where there are a plethora of supernatural beings such as vampires, shapeshifters, fairies, etc. What I found interesting was the fact that humans knew about vampires …
review by . June 27, 2010
   I tried to read Dead Until Dark twice before True Blood began airing and could not get more than a few chapters in both times. After really falling for the show, I committed to finally finish the first book in hopes that I'd be able to read the whole series, but honestly this book was barely enough for me to stomach. Something about the way Harris writes is rubs the wrong way; I find Sookie and Bill to both be extremely obnoxious on paper, and rather than being captured by the story …
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
I read this one, but it didn't draw me in. I'll stick with the television show.
review by . July 21, 2010
Dead Until Dark is the first book in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire series which is the basis of HBO's hit show True Blood. If you are a fan of the show then you will more than likely love this book series like i do!   I don't know what it is about vampires, but they are everywhere nowadays and I love it. Particularly if those vampires are named Bill and Eric-more on them later!       Dead Until Dark is almost like an adult version of the teenage …
review by . July 20, 2010
           I would recommend this book to someone looking for casual reading that is not opposed to some graphic sexual content. It is not an intellectual read.        The story is set in the south, with undead/vampires coming back to live in mainstream society. The book deals with other supernatural occurances as well.    
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
So, here's the deal. If you like the show, you MIGHT enjoy the books. They are not very well written, but they have their good moments. Sookie and Bill aren't that great, but I really enjoy Eric and his henchmen. The show doesn't really follow the books, so don't worry about ruining the show for yourself. The books are more mysteries, while the show is more of a drama. I wouldn't fall over myself in order to read the books, however.
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #187
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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