Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Review: Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire #1)

“But Bill has a disability of his own: He’s a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of—big surprise—murder. And when one of Sookie’s coworkers is killed, she fears she’s next…

Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea…”

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris, is the first book of the Southern Vampire series. The story introduces Sookie Stackhouse, a confident cocktail waitress around 25 years old at her boss’s (Sam Merlotte) bar in the rural Louisianan town of Bon Temps. Sookie has a secret: she can read people’s minds! A vampire walks into the bar and sits himself at a table. Vampires are legally recognized as citizens with protective laws. For example, vampire draining is illegal. She notices that she cannot tap into this vampire’s mind, which makes her even more curious about him.

However, she learns that a group plans to drain her mysterious vampire outside the bar that night. Quickly, she takes a chain and attacks them. After they leave with haste and panic, Sookie learns the vampire’s identity: Bill. He fought in the American Civil War! Once she arrives home from work, Granny (Sookie’s grandmother, Adele) anxiously wants Bill to talk to her club, the Descendants of the Glorious Dead, about the war. At least this gives Sookie another reason to see her vampire friend again. The next evening, the same group attacks and attempts to kill her. Bill the vampire magically saves her from near death.

Sookie and Bill have an extraordinary friendship that gradually turns romantic. Unable to hypnotize Sookie, the question “what are you?” frequently fascinates him. She learns about Bill’s past: he fought in the war and became a vampire in 1870. His family was the Comptons, whose house sits directly across the road from the Stackhouse home. Sookie can see his pale skin glow in the dark. The next evening, when Sookie approaches his home, she meets more vampires (who clearly and hungrily see humans as food) and fang-bangers. Who are they and what kind of association does Bill have with them?

The next morning, Sookie discovers that one of her co-workers from the bar is dead in their own home. The female victim lied on her bed with bite marks and died from strangulation at the neck. Who could have done this? Did a vampire in Bon Temps do this? When Sookie finds her own grandmother dead in a similar manner, constant agony and painful memories invade her mind. Who is the murderer behind these crimes? Are they also after Sookie?

This series is a drastic contrast from other vampire novels I have read previously. The setting is in the American South so I can imagine the characters speaking in a Southern (bayou?) drawl. Vampires are legal citizens of the United States, therefore they have civil liberties and do not hide their presence from humans. They drink synthetic blood for their nutrition. Vampire blood supposedly can make one more sexually erotic. The relationship between Bill and Sookie is also intriguing. If you think there are only vampires in this novel, there are other supernatural characters! Stay tuned to the next book in the Southern Vampire series, Living Dead in Dallas.

Note: There is a new HBO series under production based on the novels called "True Blood
." I will write a review about the show when it premieres!


Wendy said...

I read Dead Until Dark years ago and loved it. Since then I've been a Sookie Stackhouse fan.

Wicked Melody said...

Thanks Wendy for your comment! I plan to write more reviews on the Sookie Stackhouse Vampire series in the near future. I also highly recommend the other vampire novels on my blog.