Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #1
Published by ACE
Published on: May 1 2001
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome--and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life....
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....
I basically had two separate lives growing up. My main life involved my nurse mother, my pharmacist (legal) father, and two of my three sisters, all living a suburban life just outside of Charlotte, NC. My secondary life involved my biological father and his entire family which was (they’ve since departed) headquartered in Bon Aqua (pronounced “ACK-qua”), TN. Bon Aqua, thusly named for the water that locals lineup in their pickup-trucks to collect, with their empty milk jugs, flowing out of a rusted pipe in the ground. True story.
I think that’s one of the reasons I like Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series so much—b/c I can relate. I grew up hearing people say things like, “Sure enough, some sumbitch, scuse me, was sneaking around the house,” which is what Bubba (and by “Bubba” I mean ELVIS) said after he scared away the creeper from Sookie’s house. And I am intimately acquainted with the small-minded prejudices that seem to thrive in small towns. My family, for the most part, isn’t like that, but you can’t grow up in that kind of place without hearing some very politically incorrect terms and phrases tossed around. The kind of place where if you take issue with said politically incorrect terms and phrases, you’re either “uppity” if you’re a woman, or a “woman” if you’re a man.
So it’s nice to see someone like Sookie—a college degree-less, “barmaid” who has been whispered and gossiped about her entire life b/c of her “disability”, come out ahead of her “betters.”
Better than nice. I bloody LOVE it.
No, Sookie didn’t go to college. Kind of hard to continue her education when she’s a telepath who can’t keep everyone else’s thoughts out of her head without extreme effort. So much effort that she has nothing left to devote to things like paying attention in class. And yes, Sookie is a SERVER (fortheloveofgod). I was too when I was in school. But Sookie is not an idiot, and though she does admittedly have her less-than-stellar moments, Harris ultimately creates a highly capable woman in her.
So for the three (or so) of you that haven’t read the books or watched True Blood yet, Dead Until Dark takes place in a world just like ours. With one exception—the Japanese have created and patented synthetic blood, ending blood shortages for medical facilities, AND prompting vampires to come out of the coffin, so to speak.
The vampires took this action b/c they felt they would be well-received now that humans no longer had to fear for their lives (in regards to vampires). Vampires could subsist on the manufactured blood, protecting humans from their thirst.
Things are rarely so simple.
Incidentally, the vampires’ party-line is that they are the victims of a virus that gives them the appearance of being dead for three(ish) days, after which they rise with allergies to things like garlic and sunlight, silver and . . . holy water . . .
They are received with equal parts fear and awe.
So Sookie is thrilled when a vampire walks into Merlotte’s, the bar where she works, and sits in her section. And when she realizes that she can’t hear the vampire’s thoughts she is shocked and delighted. But just b/c she can’t hear the vampire’s thoughts, doesn’t mean she can’t hear the thoughts of two bar patrons intent on draining the vampire for his blood. When she follows the three of them out to the parking lot and rescues Bill (the vampire), she begins the series of events that lead to her romantic involvement a vampire.
And the timing couldn’t be worse b/c someone is strangling women in Bon Temps (where Sookie lives) who are known to associate with vampires . . .
The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris was one of the first Urban Fantasy series I ever read, and no matter how disappointed I was with how it ended last year, I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving Sookie. Dead Until Dark was the beginning of that love, and up until book 10 or 11 that love only grew (and 10 or 11 out of 13 ain’t bad). This series is one that every lover of Urban Fantasy should have under their belt, so if you haven’t already, what are you waiting for? You’ve got nearly a dozen books before you need to be worried about anything, and if you simply can’t accept the ending, I’m sure you can find a fanfic somewhere that will do your dreams justice. Don’t miss out on Sookie altogether just b/c she doesn’t live HEA with the crowd favorite. ALSO–by the time you get to book 13, the “crowd favorite” could be one of a couple different characters b/c one of them turned into such an a**hole! So, if you didn’t read that far, don’t automatically make assumptions (like I did when I assumed everyone knew this already)!