Dead Until Dark
by Charlaine Harris ROMANCE 810 HAR
It’s no secret that vampire lit has been having a phenomenal resurgence over the past few years, with the meteoric rise of the Twilight ‘saga’ and the Vampire Diaries enthralling audiences of all ages. Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series, on which the True Blood series is based, slightly predate this craze a little, and her vampires are more Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire) than Stephanie Meyer. That is to say that they are distinctly non-assimilationist, with appetites for flesh and sex which they do not, aside from the fairly cuddly love interest Bill, take pains to curb for the comfort of their human neighbours.
Our heroine is Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress living in small-town Louisiana two years after the vampire population has “come out of the coffin”, asking to be legally recognised as part of the human population. This is thanks in large part to the creation of synthetic “Tru Blood” which allows them to eat without harming anyone. The kicker, of course, is that some of them, promiscuous and violent, resist this effort to integrate and play nice. This is the tension which fuels the novel and the other eight in the series, allowing on its way plenty of thrilling erotic and violent scenes to keep the reader engaged.
The parallels drawn between the vampires’ negotiation of their identity in a world hostile to them with the struggles of both gay rights and African-American civil rights is what lifts Harris’s books above the bevy of vampire lit on the market, making it a light but thoughtful and engaging read.