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Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris

August 20, 2009

So, girl meets boy, girl falls for boy. So far, so simple. But, everyone knows, in any good romance there have to be a few twists and obstacles for the couple in question to overcome. Well, in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries series, the obstacles are:

He’s a 170 year old vampire

She’s a telepath

There’s a serial killer stalking ‘fang-bangers’ in her home town

Nothing out of the ordinary there then! So Sookie, our heroine, meets Bill. The initial attraction seems to be novelty (he’s the first vamp she’s met), but also the fact that she cannot hear his thoughts. Sookie finds this unbelievably peaceful after twenty-odd years of trying to block the thoughts of those all around her.As they embark on their relationship, they have to deal with the reaction of Sookie’s family and friends, and Sookie learns how to use her telepathy to resolve the serial killer situation.

In Charlaine Harris‘ first novel in the series, we are introduced to the main characters, Sookie, Bill, Sookie’s big brother Jason, fellow waitresses Arlene and Dawn, bar owner Sam Merlotte, who is Sookie’s boss, and Sookie and Jason’s grandmother, Adele. Assorted friends and their relations round out the cast.

I ordered this book after watching 10 minutes of the True Blood series on FX last month, and in 10 days I read the whole set of novels published so far. I had not ventured into the supernatural/paranormal romance genre until now, mainly due to all the hype around Twilight. I was a fan of Buffy and Angel when they were on, however. Whilst Sookie is not your typical girl next door, she is a hugely likeable character. I think the characterisation in Harris’ series is one of it’s biggest strengths. The books are well-crafted, and utterly sucked me in. I could not wait to read the next one. This was not so much due to wanting to see how Bill and Sookie’s relationship progressed, in the first few I was just intrigued as to how the over-arching story would unfold. The background mythology is pitched just right; there’s enough detail to make the Vamps seem believable (within the setting of the stories), but not so much that the reader gets bogged down it. As Sookie’s world expands through the series, so more background is added.

As I say, I was utterly sucked in by the story, the characters, the setting, everything. I’m now waiting anxiously for the anthology of Sookie short stories to be published in October. In the meantime, I’m going to re-read the rest of the series, and add my thoughts here.

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