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Charlaine Harris
book cover

Book 1
2001, May, Ace

Who recommends: Julie, Barbara, Shelley, Linda, Catie, Preeti, Margaret, Robin, JW, Margaret, Isabel, Suzanne, Edith, Laurie, Lori
Who discommends:

Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in small town Louisiana, but she 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.

When I first started reading my immediate thought was .. an "Anita Blake" ripoff, only set in the South. As it turned out it was a really fun, clever read. It's been awhile since I've read a vampire book, so the premise looked intriguing. In Harris' book vampires live among the humans, "mainstreaming" as they call it. Their affliction is attributed to a type of blood virus. This book is quite campy, almost a satire of LKH's books, and also very erotic. Definitely qualifies as SFR. And I wouldn't be surprised if we see sequels.--Julie (05 Apr 01)

Well, I just finished DEAD UNTIL DARK and what a great story. It's told in first person, which really works in this book where we see everything from the viewpoint of our heroine. Charlaine Harris is a mystery writer and I haven't read her town of Shakespeare stuff, but quite definitely this book is a romance - in more ways than one.

As the cover blurb says, Sookie is a waitress in a small Louisiana town, where everyone has known everyone else for years, and she is Crazy Sookie because she has the annoying (to her) ability to read minds. Not always clearly and only what they're thinking but what a pain to tune people out.

Of course then into the bar walks one of the newly legalized vampires - with the innocuous name of Bill, who was raised in that small town, too, just over a hundred years ago. What a relief when she realizes he's a blank to her. Through Sookie we meet her womanizing brother, her Granny, her fellow waitresses, who...uh... seem to keep ending up with old vampire bites and then strangled - -and Bill the vampire has just come to town.

We also meet Bubba the vampire , the man from Memphis, who doesn't like it when you play those songs <g> , and Eric, the oldest vampire who is fascinated by Sookie's abilities and thinking very carefully about how to encourage her away from Bill. And we also meet some not so lovable characters - any one of whom might be the murderer.

The only one I was sure it wasn't was her boss Sam, since he was with her when ... well, that would spoin that part of the story, but needless to say Sam has his own place in this book. Sookie has a cat named Tina (keep her away from Bubba, who is fond of cats), and a collie named Rover? Rex? Dexter? What was his name?

At times, the book is wryly humorous and at others very pointedly peeling layers off people and how we deal with things, from Detective Bellefleur, who wants to be a good detective, to her brother Jason and dealing with disappointment, to Bill the vampire, who is trying to mainstream with humans but is capable of much evil.--Barbara (13 May 01)

I have to agree with Barbara and Linda on this one - I have just finished DEAD UNTIL DARK and really enjoyed it. Part of it was Sookies "voice" - she is naive, but not in any way stupid - in fact, because of her ability to hear other people's thoughts she is quite wise at understanding their motives and behaviors. She also has a large tolerance for those that differ from the norm because she sees herself in that class.

I really enjoyed the romance - it had ups and downs and was not the perfect love at first sight thing - which would have been a stretch.--Shelley (14 May 01)

I highly recommend this book. I, frankly, loved it!!! I loved everything from Sookie, the heroine that can read minds, to her dating problems (especially the ones that deal with her vampire, Bill.<g>) This definitely has a romance that any romance reader would enjoy, as well as a mystery. Not for the weak-hearted, as at times there's some graphic violence. And yet I don't consider it an Anita Blake look-alike at all. Bill is a pretty nice vampire as long as you don't get him mad, although the bad vampires can be really bad. This book just has a different feel to it than any others I read and I loved the very ending. I also believe and hope there will be several more books in the series. I have high hopes of this as her other mysteries have often been in series. Her Shakespeare series having 4 books and I enjoyed them immensely. Bill even has a little competition to beat out.--Linda (15 May 01)

Many thanks to Linda and Barbara for recommending this book. I loved it. I gobbled it up in one sitting at the weekend. And that's despite being prejudiced against vampire stories ­ although I did previously enjoy the author's Shakespeare stories. Thanks Guys!--Catie (30 May 01)

It feels like forever since I read a fantasy novel. DEAD UNTIL DARK has ended the drought. I thought this was such a fun book. Bill the vampire was an okay character, but it is really Sookie Stackhouse and the denizens of her little Southern town who engaged me. There's an unsentimental humanity in Charlaine Harris' writing that will keep me reading more books in this series. The ending of this book really amused me, what with Bill becoming all optimistic about his future with Sookie and all the latent problems in Sookie's life passing by just out of his sight. What a sense of humor.--Preeti (10 Jun 01)

I finaly managed to get a copy of this on Friday. I enjoyed it too although I found the Anita Blake echoes a bit loud. Heroine with ... unusual abilities, heroine keeps getting seriously damaged, heroine pursued by a vampire and a shapeshifter, vampires legal, vampire bars, vampire groupies, vampire hierarchy. Against that, the feel is quite different, not least because of the setting. I'm looking forward to the next one.--Margaret (10 Jun 01)

I finished this on Thursday and I agree with you that there is a definite similarity to LKH. I liked it though it didn't grab me as hard as Guilty Pleasures did. I'll definitely keep my eyes out for the next one. I found the character of Bubba to be interesting. <g> --Robin (10 Jun 01)

I really enjoyed Dead Until Dark. I didn't notice the parallels between this world and LKH's so much because the tone of the book is so different. I think there are certain conventions in the vampire fiction world that come up over and over, but I enjoyed this particular story because of the slyly humorous tone. I'll look forward to the sequels.--Suzanne (9 Jul 01)

I've only read one SF/rom recently. Charlaine Harris's DEAD UNTIL DARK. It was cute but for some reason I was expecting more in the way of romantic development and it wasn't nearly as edgy and funny as I was hoping. I missed the whole courtship ritual ~ their relationship seemed really rushed. I probably set my sights too high and should've read it sooner before I became old, jaded and grouchy ;)--Laurie (8 Oct 01)

In my rush I forgot to add that I do recommend this one and liked it well enough to buy the next one. And I just realized that I only focused on my general negative impressions. I did enjoy Sookie's personality and her "ability" but I couldn't get a handle on Bill and that nagged at me throughout the story. He never came alive for me and I'm hoping he's fleshed out more in the next book. And Sam, wow, his secret surprised and pleased me and I can't wait to see more of him later. I just hope she gives him his own special heroine and doesn't go the LKH route.--Laurie (8 Oct 01)

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