Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
No. of Pages: 304 pages
First Published: July 2003
Synopsis: Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Sookie keeps to herself and doesn’t date much because of her “disability” to read minds. When she meets Bill, Sookie can’t hear a word he’s thinking. He’s the type of guy she’s waited for all of her life, but he has a disability, too–he’s a vampire with a bad reputation. When one of Sookie’s coworkers is killed, she fears she’s next.
Critiques and Comments: I am fascinated with the vampire world Ms. Harris created. To imagine a world in which vampires, paranormal activity, and other mysterious creatures do exist is like a dream come true. Ms. Harris’ Louisiana is vivid and florid. The characters are flamboyant but extremely memorable. Honestly, I wouldn’t expect anything different for a tale set in the vicinity of New Orleans.
Given everything it has going for it, I did find some faults. I struggled with how fast Sookie fell in love with Bill Compton. I do believe in love at first sight, but I got the impression that she fell in love with the mystery (and the satisfaction of her hormones) rather than the man/vamp. I also had issues with how Bill tried to shelter Sookie from knowledge of his world. If a woman can handle being alone or struggle through life having to listen to the thoughts of everyone around her, I believe she is strong enough to handle the mysteries of the vampiric world. However, it was a nagging issue that I quickly overlooked as the murder mystery deepened.
Speaking of Bill Compton, I wish Ms. Harris would have gone into more depths as to the “virus” that causes people to become vampires. Why did the government decide to recognize them as legitimate? Why the need for the virus pretense? I would have loved more back story, not of the individual vampires but how she got to the point where they were accepted (more or less) members of society. I hope that this is something that is further explained in the rest of the series.
It was easy for me to get sucked into the Sookie/Bill relationship without paying attention to the murder mystery, as they had amazing chemistry. At heart, however, this book is a murder mystery. Ms. Harris did an excellent job of building suspense and dropping clues, but I still failed to figure out the answer until the very end.
After finishing this book in an amazingly short period of time, I have to ask why it took me so long to find this novel? How have I missed it when it has so much? It has everything that has always piqued my interest – snarky, paranormal female; gorgeous mysterious males; vampires; incredible suspense and an intriguing mystery – need I say more?