Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Have You Heard? - Charlaine Harris' Dead Until Dark

Thanks, again, to Sandie Herron, who writes the audiobook reviews here!

Dead Until Dark Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mystery Book 1
Written by Charlaine Harris
Narrated by Johanna Parker
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Length:  10 hours
Publisher:  Recorded Books  (9/12/2007)
originally published as  PBO on 5/1/2001
Literary Awards:  2002 Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original,
2002 Dilys Award Nominee, 2001 Agatha Award Nominee for Best Novel

Charlaine Harris accomplishes a near-impossible task in this unique series as she combines elements of mystery, Southern cozy, romance, fantasy, and supernatural lore to create a new genre of novel featuring a telepath who falls in love with a vampire.  When medicine discovers that vampires are victims of an incurable virus and creates synthetic blood to meet their needs, vampires gain legal status all over the world.  Vampires have “come out” to varying degrees of acceptance.

The small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana is home to Sookie Stackhouse who states that she has a disability:  she can read minds.  Most people do not accept her claim and think she is weird, crazy, or simple.  She is a waitress at the local hot spot, Merlotte’s Bar and Grill, where she has learned to suppress her mind reading disability.  Until one day a handsome man enters the bar, and Sookie knows something is different about him; she cannot read his mind no matter how hard she tries.  She is waiting on the first vampire to arrive in Bon Temps.

In quick succession Sookie saves vampire Bill from drainers who want to sell his blood.  Bill saves Sookie from the same drainers when they retaliate by beating her; and a relationship is born between the two.  They quickly fall in love despite their cultural differences.

Sookie lives with her grandmother in the old family farmhouse across the cemetery from vampire Bill Compton.  Sookie’s brother, Jason, lives where their parents had before they were killed in a flash flood.  Jason attracts women with little effort more than a smile.  He often visits Merlotte’s Bar to pick up a companion for the evening.

Merlotte’s is buzzing following the discovery of Maudette Pickens dead in her bed.  Not long after, it is buzzing again with news of waitress Dawn’s strangulation.  The local sheriff doesn’t often solve murder cases.  Now his detective, Andy Bellefleur, would have his hands full with the deaths of two loose women who liked vampires.  They had both bedded Jason Stackhouse, who becomes a prime suspect.

The community of Bon Temps is stunned with news of yet another murder.  Sookie’s grandmother has been killed following a meeting of the Descendents of the Glorious Dead featuring Bill Compton’s recollections of the Civil War.  The Sheriff thinks the murderer intended to kill Sookie, since she now loved a vampire.  Sookie’s world has crashed down around her as she mourns Gran’s death.  Who is this killer who is preying on unskilled females who like vampires?  Who will be his next victim?

Some  of the enjoyment of this audiobook is due to the many talents of Johanna Parker.  The accents given the characters are accurate and appropriate for the story.  The dialog is spot on, with the variations of “she said” fading into the background almost as if never written, letting the actual dialog sing.  The story is told from Sookie’s perspective which makes it more intimate with her narrative voice.  Ms. Parker reads so well that the story truly does come alive.  She even makes the occasional humorous side comments that really zap the reader’s funny bone.

One cannot think of the Sookie Stackhouse series of a dozen novels without considering the HBO original series “True Blood” based on them.  The TV series took the world of Sookie Stackhouse created by Charlaine Harris and twisted it and turned it into something quite different.  While the HBO series could accurately claim it was based on the books, I felt it took them and created a different world with problems and solutions far outside the range of the books, beginning with the first episode.  It is imperative that the reader understand that the books and the TV series are totally different and remove them from each other to enjoy each separately.

This review is on the first book about Sookie Stackhouse and her friends and family in a small Southern town.  I very much enjoyed the entire story, the solution to the murders, the supernatural world we enter, the world of Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire lover.  I am addicted to this fairy tale and look forward to each of the subsequent books in this enchanting series.

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