« Reading Log: The Rule of Four | Main | Isn't that just a kids' disease? »

Reading Log: Dead Until Dark

0441008534.01._AA_SCTZZZZZZZ_.jpg

I basically read Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries) by Charlaine Harris in one sitting. I wasn't quite ready for bed, and had finished doing other things for the evening, so thought I'd just sit down with this book and see how it was. I'd read part of chapter 1 on Amazon, and hadn't been blown away by the writing, but it was fun enough to give a used copy a shot.

And I didn't put the book down until I was finished, 2.5-3 hours later. You can stop reading here if you don't like vampire stories. If they're not your cup of tea, you won't like the book. But me, I have a thing for vampire stories. Love Dracula and Carmilla. Love Anne Rice. Love Buffy and Angel. Love Sunshine. (I'm scaring you now, aren't I? You didn't know this about me, did you?)

The interesting twist in Harris's world is that vampires are a new legal minority. The rumor that keeps most people "happy" (the term is a euphemism here) is that vampires are not actually "undead" per se; they just seem that way because of a strange virus that affected certain people. This background, and the minority status, are two areas Harris could have gone into more detail with, but the lack of detail also draws the reader in by assuming a shared knowledge and leaving it at that. This is a skill that many authors don't have; somehow with this novel, we just read along and nod our heads without really questioning what we're being told.

The heroine of Harris's Southern Vampire Novels is Sookie Stackhouse, at least currently a waitress at a local bar. But Sookie isn't quite "normal" herself; she can hear other people's thoughts. It depends upon who, the type of thoughts, the distance, etc; sometimes she can actually hear thoughts, other times she can get pictures or images. She's spent her whole life learning how to guard herself against prying or listening in. If she doesn't put up the barriers, she'll get headaches from hearing the jumble of thoughts around her, or hear things people think about her, or things she just doesn't want to know that people think about. Most people in Bon Temps, her rural northern Louisiana town, think she's just crazy, but a few actually know the truth.

The main premise of the book is a murder mystery; someone is killing girls who have been with vampires. Sookie fears for her own life, as she finds herself with a vampire boyfriend by chapter 2. The mysteries aside, I found the book very interesting in the development of characters and their relationships with each other, as well as the relationships between humans and vampires, and their frequently uneasy co-existence. Harris's writing is not as refined as Rice's, but I found the book more fun to read and definitely quicker.

Comments

Check out Kim Harrison's *Dead Witch Walking* series and Mary Jane Davidson's "Undead and Unwed" series and then there's the oversexed and overviolent but funny and entertaining Anita Blake vampire killer stories by Laurell Hamilton.

All in the genre.