Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2014
The overall premise of Dead Until Dark is that of a romance which develops between Sookie Stackhouse, a down to earth waitress from Bon Temp who happens to have the ability to eavesdrop on other people's thoughts, and Bill Compton, the one-hundred-year-old vampire. In addition to this, someone is killing women who have a reputation for being `fang bangers' - vampire groupies - and making it look like Bon Temp has a vampire serial killer on the loose. This murder mystery sub-plot provides a good balance to the romance aspect, preventing it from becoming too cloying, and serves to drive the narrative forward.

The writing in this book is simple, uses a lot of clichés, and at times it feels as though Harris has reached for the thesaurus in an attempt to make things sound more interesting, which is a shame as these words jarred against the natural flow and style of her writing. While the writing is simple, Harris has created a distinctive voice of Louisiana folk, which serves the story and the characters well. Sookie is actually quite a well-developed character and I think her naïve/vixen persona works well within the context of the story. She's in her mid-twenties yet very unworldly and sexually innocent, but she's not immune to her own feminine wiles and charms, and she bounces between innocent and sexy as she tries to find her feet in her relationship with Bill.

It's Bill that I can't quite gel with in this book. For a one hundred year old vampire he's not very smooth as a lover, pretty cheesy actually. Harris presents him as being a bit confused in the realm of modern dating, which doesn't fit with him having so much life experience - decades and decades of dating, womanising and the like. I simply cannot imagine a vampire living for that long and not being up to date on the changing world of dating.

One aspect that I do like about Harris's book is that she has taken the classic vampire storyline and creatively expanded it to include other creatures to co-exist within the human world. These include Sam, the shapeshifter, and Sookie, a supernatural whose species has not yet been revealed in this book. She also has vampires `mainstreaming' living openly within human society, and drinking a synthetically produced blood, which makes them seem more acceptable to society. By not revealing all of her characters and their attributes at once, Harris creates the desire to read the following books in the series, to unravel the mystery of Sookie. She's more than a telepath, there's something special about her blood, but what is she?

On the surface Dead Until Dark appears to be a fluff romance vampire novel driven by a murder mystery plot and simple writing, but there is something more complex going on within the story line and characterisation. Once surrendered myself to accepting those aspects, the book actually became more enjoyable to read. It fulfilled its purpose: to entertain.
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