Database Part 1

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (2001)

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)

Sookie, Telepath, finds silence and acceptance in Vampire Bill, and unexpectedly more… 

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Mystery
Series? Yes; Complete

Publisher: Ace Books
First Publication Date: May 1st, 2001 (292 pages)

Available Formats (From Charlaine Harris’ website):

  • Trade Paperback: July 7, 2009 ISBN-10: 0441018254; ISBN-13: 978-0441018253
  • Hardback: 2008, ISBN-10: 0-441-01597-2; ISBN-13: 978-0-4410-1597-9
  • Mass Paperback: 2008 ISBN-10: 044101699-5; ISBN-13: 978-044101699-0
  • Mass Paperback: 2001, ISBN 0-441-00853-4
  • Audiobook: (Publisher: Recorded Books), ISBN-10: 142816085X; ISBN-13: 978-1428160859

Also avilable as Kindle on Amazon.
Price range: $3.00-$8.00 for new copies on Amazon

Why I chose this book: 

The Sookie Stackhouse series became incredibly famous after it was adapted for TV as HBO’s Trueblood series and is also an Anthony-award winning book. I felt this made the book significant enough that I should try reading again after many years, especially now that I’m an adult, no longer the teen I was when I originally picked up this book.
I must say I enjoyed reading this book much more than I did the first time around.

Author Interviews: 

Mistress of the Southern Vampire Romantic Mystery 

Feature Interview: Charlaine Harris

Significance:

Awards:
Anthony award – Best Paperback original award (2002)

Made into a TV show (TrueBlood) on HBO in 2008.

Synopsis:

Sookie Stackhouse lives in the small town of Bon Temps in Louisiana, and works as a waitress at Merlotte’s Bar. She is undeniably pretty, kind, and polite, but keeps to herself. Mostly because, everyone thinks she is crazy. In actuality, Sookie is a telepath who can’t turn it off, which leads to her knowing way too much about the people in her town. She calls it her “disability” and it also keeps her from dating because she doesn’t want to hear her partner’s moods and emotions because that never ends well. All this changes when Bill walks into the bar and she realizes she can’t hear his thoughts – just the kind of man she’s been looking for.
Bill has a “disability” of his own: he is allergic to silver, drinks blood, and has a fear of wooden stakes — he’s a vampire.

As Sookie gets sucked into Bill’s vampiric world, learns more about the world than she ever wanted to, such as how much a vial of vampire blood (the new drug of choice for humans) runs on the black market, and how vampires deal with those that betray them (bring some bleach). With the murders going on in Sookie’s town– all females with vampire bites on them who have been strangled, she worries even more that Bill’s crowd is not the one for her. What’s worse is that it seems like the murderer is coming after her now too.

Review: 

This book was fun and interesting– I actually read every word, not something happens often (or at least not recently) so it was a nice change. I’m also very much dying to read the next book.

I will say this author has a problem with women who have sex often. It isn’t proper or blah blah blah. I only mention it because this isn’t the only book where the heroine seems to look down on people who’ve been married and divorced often or sleep around — mostly women, because the men, mainly her brother, aren’t as looked down on it. It almost seems like the author is telling the reader appropriate morals, although it isn’t as bad as Aurora Teagarden. Some readers might find issue with this, but for the most part if taken as just Sookie’s morals and opinions, others might not be as annoyed with it.

Vampirism wasn’t explained in detail, but I feel like mostly everything was covered and being a series, more will come! This left the door open for more to slowly build on as the series continues. There is also that wiggle room for other supernatural creatures since we know just from this book that Sookie is enhanced (telepathy), other beings are slightly brought up, yet nothing was definitively denied, so the story and possible plots can go many different direction.
The mystery wasn’t fully fleshed out if only because the mystery didn’t seem to be the main focus nor were many hints given about the villain. I had a few guesses and wasn’t too surprised… so perhaps the mystery was done just right!

This is definitely an adult book and more than a mystery as it is promoted to be, I find it to be a romance since Sookie and Bill’s relationship takes the focus and Sookie does not do much snooping. She’s more of a ‘in the wrong place at a dangerous time’ kind of person.

What I appreciate is that this is a book that can stand on it’s own. Are there still some secrets and little things to resolve? Kinda, but if this was a standalone I’d be happy! This isn’t just a background or set up book.

Other Reviews from Amazon:

“It’s the kind of book you look forward to reading before you go to bed, thinking you’re only going to read one chapter, and then you end up reading seven.”—Alan Ball, executive producer of True Blood

“Blending action, romance, and comedy, Harris has created a fully functioning world so very close to our own, except, of course, for the vamps and other supernatural creatures.”—The Toronto Star

Appeal:

Character-focused, Intense Romance, Supernatural, Small Town

This book will be good for readers of romance who like a supernatural flair, because of all the different supernatural aspects and the amount of relationship building there is. Although, one aspect to be careful of is how much sex and to what detail people want, since this book goes pretty deep. Because of the small town vibe and the mystery going on in background along with strong side characters, cozy mystery readers may also enjoy this book.

“Clues for the future”:

Bon Temps (small town), Vampire clubs (Fangtasia), Eric Northman, Vampire Bill, Sam (shifter), Jason (brother), Arlene (friend), Merlotte’s (Sam’s bar and where Sookie works), female victims of strangulation who’ve all had sex with Jason and have vampire bites.

Rating:

  • Quality: 4★
    A few moments I thought could have been improved
  • Popularity: 5★
    Made into a TV show and one of the more popular Paranormal Romances in the genre.

Readalikes: 

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel, #1)On the Edge (The Edge, #1)Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)

 

 

 

 

 

  • Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey is also a small town fantasy with a supernatural powered protagonist.
  • On The Edge by Ilona Andrews is more of a mystery with romance attached with that small town vibe and supernatural powers abound.
  • Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison, is for readers who liked this series but wished there was a bit more action or enjoy characters who can kick some butt. There are multiple types of supernatural creatures, lovable characters, and a mystery to make you think.
  • Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost features a somewhat small town in this first book of the series and a vampire romance with lots of action.

Booktalking ideas:

I would like to focus on how quirky Sookie is and her budding romance with Bill while letting the mystery simmer in the background.

“The Japanese have created synthetic blood! More people will be able to get the blood they need, unexpectedly, this also included the undead.”

“A vampire walks into a bar and is greeted by a telepathic waitress. Not the beginning to a joke, but an incredible book.”

Possible Discussion Questions: 

  1. In the book, there are many different reactions to vampires “coming out of the coffin” including Sookie’s grandmother who invites Bill to talk about his time fighting in the civil war. Considering our political climate right now, what do you think America or the World’s reaction would be?
  2. Sookie has fleeting seconds within Eric’s brain. What do you think the consequences would be if someone found out? Do you think the series will expand on this?
  3. What did you think about the way Sam revealed himself? Do you think Sookie was right to be mad at him? Will their relationship ever evolve to more?
  4. This book won a distinguished mystery book award. Do you think this book qualifies as a mystery or would you categorize it as a different genre?