Dead Until Dark

Posted by : atcampbell | On : November 2, 2009

Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris

We had twelve in attendance at the North Village library for this meeting. Our topic was Dead until Dark, the first in Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series, which is the basis for the current television series True Blood. Only one of us had read any of the author’s prior books. Nine of us started this book, and all of us finished. The story involves a series of murders in a small Louisiana town, set in a world were vampires live among humans.

One reader said this book was great fun. She enjoyed how some segments of society embraced vampires living among us, particularly the Daughters of the Confederacy who were eager to have vampires provide eyewitness accounts of the Civil War.

We liked the atmosphere of the book. Several of us thought the characters felt like real Southern people.  One person liked the small town feel, where everybody knows each other. Another said  the regional dialect spoken by the characters was authentic.

We liked the protagonist and narrator, Sookie Stackhouse. It was easy to get comfortable and bond with her.  Her personality was a mix of startlingly naïve and gutsy. Her telepathic abilities were very much a part of her, and they added to the story.

One reader commented that this book reads more like a cozy mystery than any other genre. Both the book’s structure and voice felt like mysteries to her. It did not have the voice of fantasy that she expects. To her, this writing style removed the sense of wonder from the situation. It also did not feel like horror, since most of the violence in the book was not supernatural and this book did not provide a real look at the dark side.

Another observed the mystery flavor, and felt that the author was trying to keep her established audience, since all her prior books were mysteries.  He liked how this book had several strong characters, both human and vampire.

There were inevitable comparisons of Dead until Dark to the television series it spawned. One person said that she loves True Blood but found this book was boring and lightweight. Another felt the television series had more graphic violence;  upon rereading the book he discovered the violence was already there, but just made more of an impact on the screen that on the page.

Overall this was a fun discussion and a successful book. After the meeting, several of us had a nice dinner together at Waterloo Ice House.

—A. T. Campbell, III