Publisher: Ace Books
Author: Charlaine Harris
Category: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
My Rating: ★★★
When urban fantasy readers think of staples in their genre, the Sookie Stackhouse series is usually one that springs to mind. As a UF reader myself, I figured I ought to read the series at some point. Having finally nabbed my own copy, I gave Dead Until Dark a try. After finishing it, I'm left with mixed feelings. It has a strong paranormal romance aspect (a genre I'm not overly fond of) and mystery elements (which, while apparently the main focus of the story, somehow never seem overly urgent). It's an odd balance and it didn't work for me.
I liked the vampire culture Charlaine Harris developed. They're nicely recognizable as traditional vampires, but just different enough from most vampire stories out there. The back story and synthetic blood is a nice twist. Also, some of the vampires acted decidedly not human. I enjoy stories that keep monsters acting like monsters, or at least not like us.
I liked Sookies' narrative … kind of. Explanation: I'm not a big fan of Southern accents, and boy does she have one, but the way she thought and spoke helped bring life to the story. It really did sound like a three-dimensional person speaking to me, adding nuances and flare to the narrative.
I didn't understand Sookie. She seems like an innocent country girl (a virgin, no less), and she jumps straight into the kinky sex with no problems. And some of the sex scenes were awkward, to say the least (the cemetery scene, anyone?). Reading them, all I could, “No thanks.” Given her supposedly innocent history, I had problems believing she'd accept all the things in this book in such a matter-of-fact way.
Please, please, please don't introduce everyone at once! I spent a good portion of the book not knowing most of the side characters because they were lump-introduced in the first chapter or two. When they reappeared, I had to hope Harris would give some hint who this person was.
This book is better suited for vampire or paranormal romance fans. It's not a hardcore romance, but there's enough sex, I think, to please the paranormal crowd. It does have action and gore as well, so anyone who doesn't mind some sex thrown in with their vampire stories may enjoy this.