22 December 2008

Books: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

What is our fascination with vampires? Since Dracula, the myths and legends of vampires has grown. Never a huge fan of vampire novels (though I adored Angel on TV, which was spun off from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), especially after the rise of Anne Rice, and more recently, the melodrama of Laurel Hamilton.

I’ve avoided reading books with them, if only because I found them boring and predictable. Maybe that’s while I like Christopher Moore’s take on vampires (Bloodsucking Fiend and You Suck, with a cameo in A Dirty Job) and the forthcoming Fool) and not the vampire love stories that are dime a dozen (and growing exponentially) in the romance section of Borders. Apparently, women find vampires attractive (and probably a subset of gay men).

Which, of course, explains the success of the Twilight book series and now movie.

But I digress.

Enter Sookie Stackhouse, the mid-twenties hero of mystery writer Charlaine Harris’ first vampire novel, Dead Until Dark. It’s a breezy, no nonsense take on the vampire lore with believable and well crafted characters. It is, by far, not going to win any awards for literature, but it’s a fun read and one can finish in a few hours.

The premise is murky, but apparently vampires have been living amongst us for generations, and now that a Japanese company has created a synthetic blood substitute, vampires have “come out” so to speak, and are now unliving around humans. One vampire has decided to move back to his small town in Louisiana, where he encounters Sookie, who saves him from a couple who drain vampires.

Now vampire Bill (yep, no poetically named vampires here) is a first mad at Sookie, but realizes that the waitress does possess a secret that intrigues him. But before their romance can start, Sookie becomes the target of a killer who is taking the lives of women who’ve had relationships with vampires.

Harris creates some wonderfully flawed characters here and that’s, perhaps, one of the better reasons to continue reading the series.

This book series, also, is being used as the premise for the HBO series True Blood.

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