The vampires among us

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Author Charlaine Harris thrills readers with an introduction to the supernatural world with the first in the Sookie Stackhouse series Dead Until Dark. The book introduces Sookie Stackhouse, a native to Bon Temps, La., where the supernatural is commonplace and gossip is a daily staple.

The townspeople gather daily in local hub Merlotte's, the local bar owned by none other than a sup (short for supernatural). Harris develops an enthralling story in an old-fashioned area where the people get an update into modern day events through Sookie's new social life.

Sookie, a waitress, is no stranger to the supernatural. Readers learn Sookie is telepathic and early in the book is considered crazy because of her ability. Sookie's difference gives her a clean perspective on vampires who have only recently come out to humans in the fictional town.

Bon Temps is almost the last place to get a vampire visitor in the form of a mysterious man, Bill, who arrives in Bon Temps and sits at Sookie's table expecting service. Sookie not only introduces herself to the vampire but spends her first two encounters protecting him from locals who want to drain him for valuable vampire blood.

The repercussions of the developing relationship are endless. The townspeople confirm to themselves that Sookie is truly crazy, because she begins an affair with a vampire. Bill Compton, an original resident of Bon Temps before the Civil War, returns home with a wave of trouble riding behind him.

He is surrounded by dangerous vampires who lack his desire to assimilate and by humans who want to turn a profit or want to kill vamps because they are different. Sookie begins an intimate relationship with Bill regardless of the losses that occur in her life as a result.

The book is relatively subtle introducing the supernatural characters as beings with human characteristics but who have powerful advantages of being different from others.

Sookie steps into this world, finding a home in the unusual as she migrates toward a life beyond Bon Temps. Her own supernatural ability as a telepath makes her valuable to the vampire nation, and she finds personal strength and power as a woman in her new role amongst them.

However, with great power comes great responsibility, and Sookie soon learns that her evolving connection to the vampire kingdom is angering a local in Bon Temps who decides to kill women who are "fang bangers" to punish them for their connection to the illicit and evil world of the undead.

Dead Until Dark brings to life all the things that people fear, dream of and even fantasize about. In this first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, key characters are introduced, and readers will be able to follow through their own stories as the series continues.

As a stand alone, the first book is a descriptive and solid with a sound plot and a thrilling ending. Sookie grows as a character into womanhood physically and mentally in the first novel, indicating the characters will evolve and in ways unexpected. Charlaine Harris delivers a captivating read that translates so well it is now known as the hit HBO series TrueBlood.

If you can't get enough of the show, sink your teeth into the real thing and find out where the characters are really going in their lives.

Angelic Jones is a freelance writer for Austin Weekly News.


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