Harris, Charlaine

Review: “Dead until Dark: Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Series” by Charlaine Harris

This first book in the Sookie Stackhouse vampire series is another retelling of the timeless tale of the Vampire. I got interested in this series after watching True Blood and, from a literary perspective, I prefer the T.V. series as it corrects the faults evident in Harris’ novels. While I enjoyed the novel (I finished it in one sitting. A very easy read.) where Harris weaves a believable and fast paced story, there were moments of such corny and clunky dialogue that I burst out laughing at inappropriate times. For example, this is how Sookie describes herself to us:

“I’m blond and blue-eyed and twenty-five, and my legs are strong and my bosom is substantial, and I have a waspy waistline”.

There is a serious lack of character development in the book. Granted, it is the first in the series but after finishing the 177 page novel I felt as if I still didn’t know who Sookie Stackhouse is even though she narrates the story and is told in first person.

There are also some curious decisions taken by Harris. When Sookie loses her virginity to vampire Bill Compton, Sookie expresses her pain with “ow, ow, ow”. I found that a strange choice of words coming from the midst of sexual activity. Or perhaps it was meant to convey the comedic sense of the moment? However, I did enjoy the book. It is a new and modern take on the Vampire mythology, where vampires are now living out in the open, having “come out of the coffin”. This is due to the Japanese invention of True Blood which is able to provide Vampires with all their nutritional needs without their need to feast on humans. Of course, issues, instincts and satisfaction go much deeper than that. The small town where the novels are set features some unusual characters. Sookie, a telepathic waitress, is initially attracted to the vampire Bill Compton because of her inability to read his mind. I particularly like the idea that Vampire Bill has a fondness for plaiting Sookie’s hair and combing out knots after Sookie’s bath.

The traditional story of star-crossed lovers comes into play along with mystery, crime, allusions to incestuous acts, sex and drugs. This book certainly conveys the Vampire myth in a new and modern way.