Welcome to the first in our #TrueBloodTuesday #FarewellSookie series. Today, Team Gollancz Dark Fantasy will be looking back at Dead Until Dark, with a mixture of recaps, comments and videos we hope you’ll join us as we countdown to the final Sookie Stackhouse mystery Dead Ever After (available 7th May).
Dead Until Dark, The first book in the Southern Vampires series opens with Sookie meeting Bill in a crowded bar. What follows is part romance, part mystery and all parts Sookie. Frothy, witty and nail bitingly tense, the first Southern Vampire Mystery is our inaugural trip to Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie Stackhouse, our unflappable narrator, bar waitress and telepath guides us through a tour of all things supernatural.
*HERE BE SPOILERS!*
After Sookie meets Bill at Merlotte’s, our heroine rescues Bill from the Rattrays, vampire drainers in the bar’s parking lot. The name pretty much says it all, vampire drainers, are humans who drain vampires and then sell the vampire’s blood for a profit. (NB. In this world vampire blood has restorative properties and will kick up your sex life). Our heroine rescues a near perfect stranger (and supernatural creature) because she overhears the vampire drainer’s plan to kill Bill. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about our plucky, kind-hearted heroine. Sookie has a ‘disability’ she can hear the thoughts of everyone around her. What sounds like a pretty amazing power, doesn’t quite work out that way. Sookie can’t always control what thoughts she hears and winds up with TMI about the people around her. Making a love life not possible. But, when Sookie realizes that she can’t hear Bill’s thoughts everything changes.
The Romance: What follows next is the whirlwind courtship of Sookie and Bill. Sookie is drawn to Bill because she can’t read him. Bill can’t control or compel Sookie the way vampires can other humans. A very unlikely, albeit steamy, romance is struck, including Bill coming to Sookie’s grandmother’s aide and speaking at her Descendants of the Glorious Dead society meeting. (Here’s a guy who lived through the Civil War, what a coup!). Side note: This is the book where Bill and Sam make a deal to watch over Sookie (night and day) with Bill taking the night shift and Sam taking the day. Sam winds up sleeping in Sookie’s bed (disguised as a loveable mutt) it’s not until the morning when Sam shifts back into his human and naked state that Sookie finds out his secret. We also have a romantic near-miss with Sookie and Sam, but in the end both agree to just be friends.
The Mystery: Meanwhile, in the mystery element of the book someone is killing Merlotte’s waitresses. And not just waitresses, waitresses who have been known to, let’s call it, ‘hang out’ with vampires. As Sookie’s co-workers begin dying all around her, our telepathic waitress finds out that she is next when she overhears the mind of the killer in the backroom of the bar. When Granny Stackhouse is murdered in the Stackhouse family home Sookie’s world comes crashing down around her. Under threat by a serial killer, she has to solve this mystery before she’s the next victim.
The Vampires: Sookie’s talent for reading minds soon becomes the worst kept secret in the vampire community and leads to her meeting the crew at Fangtasia. Sookie is employed by Eric to read the minds of his human staff to find out who has been stealing money from his club. This earns Sookie Eric’s respect and attention.
Sookie’s Love Interest: Bill Compton
This is the book that we: meet Bill, visit Fangtasia for the first time (and Eric makes his show stopping appearance), find out Sam’s secret (woof!), meet the King—we mean Bubba and say goodbye to Granny Stackhouse.
RIP: Granny Stackhouse, Rene, Maudette, Dawn, Uncle Bartlett, Tina (Sookie’s cat)
Our Favourite Lines: ‘I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar.’
‘You won’t find a vampire in a ford fiesta.’
Oh Bill! *swoon* ‘“You came out here to rescue me. It was brave,” he said in a voice so seductive it would have shivered DeeAnne right out of her red nylon panties.’
Cheeky Eric! ‘As he bent to kiss her, Eric looked at me over her head. “I’ll see you again,” he said . . .’
Jen says: I love every trip to Bon Temps, but the first one has to be my favourite! Sookie’s wit, voice and humour crackle on every page. I read the entire Southern Vampire series back to back over the course of one summer about four years ago. I literally couldn’t put the books down! The same is true of this re-read. After everything that has happened in the books I completely forgot how sexy Bill is in Dead Until Dark. I also forgot how brilliant the scene is where Bill goes to speak to the Descendants of the Glorious Dead. That scene alone makes you love Bill a little bit. How about the revelation that Sam is a shifter? A shifter who spent the night sleeping at the foot of Sookie’s bed! And of course, who can forget the fateful first meeting of Sookie and Eric? I’m still on the fence if I’m Team Eric or not, but there is something undeniable that sizzles in their first meeting. *Swoon* I also love how each Southern Vampire mystery is just that, a tightly crafted mystery and no book is a better example of that then Dead Until Dark. Tense and filled with suspense, the real question you’re asking yourself is what is going on here? Who is killing known vampire sympathizers (and ok, ‘girlfriends’) and will Sookie be next?
Hannah says: As a reader, rather than a re-reader, the Sookie Stackhouse of the novels is still brand new to me. But I’m so glad! Even though I’ve seen the TV show, it still feels fresh and exciting and I love Sookie even more. The romance with Bill feels so scary and exciting (FYI I am definitely Team Bill) and the tense atmosphere surrounding the mystery is powerful throughout, even though I know what’s coming. Can’t wait to get stuck into Living Dead in Dallas – I’m hooked!
Gillian says: The first book in a series you love always has a really special place in your heart, and that’s Dead Until Dark for me. From the very beginning the writing makes you feel you have a friend in Sookie. One you root for, love having a gossip with, bemoan the ups-and-downs of life and love with and rely on for a laugh when times are tough. This is such a perfect story: mystery, characters to love and a romance to curl your toes. I re-read this in one sitting – roll on Living Dead In Dallas!
Watch our exclusive video of Charlaine Harris as she discusses her memories of writing Dead Until Dark and reads an extract.
Visit us on Thursday when we reveal our video for Living Dead in Dallas and offer you a chance to win a copy!