Dead Until Dark (2001)

Charlaine Harris

I was obliged to read this as part of an undergraduate gothic studies subject and, well, while, I didn’t expect to dislike it I was a little arrogant and thought it would be pretty light (in the lite sense) and fluffy. This is, after all, the novel that was turned into the TV show True Blood. The TV show which imploded under its own premise of vampires being integrated into the real world and acting as an analogy for various civil rights movements. A series which then heaped upon the implosion crater the added insult of werewolves and fairies and shapeshifters.

But, TV series aside, this first book in the series is quite good. It takes a lot of pointers in tone and characterisation from Stephen King which works well with the refreshing perspective of a female narrative perspective. The premise is brilliant. The setting in the south is suitably eerie and steeped in gothic history.

This book could essentially be the screenplay for the first season of the HBO adaptation which was almost universally applauded. I’m tempted to read on further and find out if Charlaine jumped the shark into the world of fairies or if that was HBO’s mistakes. Judging by Game of Thrones though I feel like HBO has been reasonably faithful and that Harris’ later novels possibly suffer in quality and dilute the premise. Here though it is an almost perfect modern vampire novel.

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