vampire fiction journey began well with The Radleys, but it's taken a real nosedive with this clunker.
Dead Until Dark is the first of the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris, which spawned the True Blood television series. Apparently True Blood is masterful. Having read this book, I can say that must have been quite a feat for the producers.
Okay, let's overlook the ridiculous names. Sookie is a telepathic barmaid who sees her mind-reading powers as a disability and acts like a deer in headlights when others treat her as odd. Bill (Bill! Has there ever been a less sexy name?) is a vampire who's just returned to the small town of Bon Temps to integrate with the humans. Sookie saves his life and promptly falls in love with him. It seems his only attraction is the fact that she can't read his mind, because otherwise he's pretty boring. Laconic, no appreciable sense of humour and not particularly high up in the vampire hierarchy.
The story is told from Sookie's perspective but one can't help but hear a middle-aged author indulging herself a little too much. Sookie is beautiful, has big boobs, is tough but soft, and is desirable to everyone (humans, vampires and everything in between). Oh and did I mention she has an orgasm every time? Like every time.
The plot itself is surprisingly decent, which leads me to believe that Charlaine Harris is a good story-creator, but not a particularly good storyteller or author. The writing is clumsy and cringe-inducing and the climax is left so far into the plot that when you get to it, you don't care too much. I actually put the book down to do something right in the middle of the climax and didn't pick it up again for another two days. That's unheard of for me; usually I have to know what's going to happen next, but all the eyeball rolling and cringing left me rather untouched by the end. Particularly cringe-inducing was the appearance of an extremely famous now-dead singer incarnated as the vampire Bubba. Seriously.
The characters were one-dimensional and never develop very much, but presumably this is because Ms Harris is busy setting up the following books that have since built her Southern Vampire empire.
If you're a fan, don't hate me. Obviously I'm voicing the opinions of a minority, because this book has received glowing reviews, and not even just from the publishers.
If you want a bit of a thriller with human-vampire sexy scenes thrown in, this might be for you. If you want something you won't be embarrassed to read on the train, then maybe give this a miss.