As a huge fan of HBO’s True Blood TV show, the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris have been at the top of my reading wishlist for some time.
The series follows the story of Sookie, living in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. She has the gift of mind-reading, although she would never refer to it as a gift but more of a curse, as her head is constantly filled with noise. When she meets Vampire Bill Compton, she hears nothing and enjoys the peace. However, there is a serial killer in Bon Temps, one that goes after women who associate with Vampires. With both her brother Jason and her new Vampire boyfriend Bill both suspects, this first novel follows Sookie’s investigation into the murders while trying to stay alive herself.
What strikes me most about Dead Until Dark, is how closely the TV show has followed the novels. The creators of the True Blood TV show on HBO have done a marvellous job of keeping the show as close to the novels as possible. It’s always a shame when stories and characters are altered too much to suit a TV audience and ends up ruining a great series. However, reading Charlaine Harris’ novels, it’s obvious to see that nothing from the novels has been compromised to bring it to TV.
Having said that, reading the novels after watching the show on TV does have some downsides. While it’s easy to picture the characters in the novels, the element of surprise is lost. While the story itself is still gripping and I found it difficult to put down, I already knew who the serial killer was from the TV show. I can imagine it’s a spectacular read if you are unaware of the conclusion of the Bon Temps Serial Killer storyline.
It’s a very entertaining and easy to read book. There’s so much going on and very well paced. What HBO has fit into the entire Series 1 on TV, Charlaine Harris has fit it’s entirity into this first novel. What I especially enjoyed is her creation of the Bon Temps townspeople. With Sookie working at Merlotte’s Bar, Harris has enabled the reader to become familiar with everyone in the town. Sookie’s telepathy only adds to this – the readers here the thoughts of Merlotte’s patrons, meaning we get much more insight into the lives and thoughts of the less-important characters. She clearly paints a picture of the gossiping people of the small town, which really envelops you in the story. The main characters themselves are superbly well written and you feel so emotionally attached to them all.
Dead Until Dark has everything you’d want in a book – mystery, murder, romance, fantastic characters and a really enjoyable story. The only disappointment was that I knew how it would end. However, I fully intend on continuing reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels and I’m sure once I surpass the point in the storyline that is currently on TV, the story will grip me even more. Dead Until Dark is a brilliant book, but I did miss the element of ‘what will happen next?’.
4 Stars **** (Would have been 5 stars, had I read this before watching the TV show!)