I should probably really be giving Dead Until Dark four stars instead of 3.5. I tore through this book. I couldn't wait to get off of work so I could keep reading it. When I was reading it, I was completely engrossed in it--the world just fell away. I love it when books do that to me!
But. In the end this is a book about a woman who falls in love with a vampire. I realize that when this book was written, that whole thing hadn't quite been done to (ahem) death yet, but I read this now, in 2014, when there are an outrageously high number of vampire/human (or werewolf/human) romances in books. Seriously, while I was completely absorbed by this book, I really felt like I needed to counteract some of the literary trend of vampires as sex symbols by going and reading something from the Monster Hunter International series, where the quote, "Vampires only sparkle when they're on fire," works as the series mantra. As I read Dead Until Dark and enjoyed it, I found myself wondering why these vampire/human romance books are so dang popular. I mean, vampires are dead things. What is the draw?! Well, I don't want to get all academic here and try to analyze this too much, but basically I decided that it's because there is something attractive about the fantasy of living and loving wildly, passionately, and dangerously when in real life we are supposed to live straight-laced, respectable, self-controlled lives. This is a review, however, and not an essay so, moving on....
I enjoyed Sookie Stackhouse a great deal. She was a lovely woman, both physically and emotionally. Her personality was very endearing. Just a nice, properly brought up Louisiana girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She's also tough as nails underneath all that Southern charm. Daisy Duke, but with better dress-sense. Elly May Clampett, but with more substance. I enjoyed the way she handled her life, and the way she cared about others. It was pleasant to be in her company, and it's Sookie that will make me read the next book in the series.
I thought that the mystery in Dead Until Dark was pretty transparent, so the big denouement was not at all a surprise to me. The red herrings were, I thought, obviously red herrings, so I was able to cast those aside without a second thought. I do wish the mystery had been a little harder to solve, but there was enough other stuff going on to keep me happily entertained, and happily reading. The well written characters made up for the easy mystery, and I suppose I can handle a literary world in which some vampires are sex gods, and others are monsters that need hunting.