Dead Until Dark  - Charlaine Harris

Ever since vampires came out of the coffin (as they laughingly put it) four years ago, I’d hoped one would come to Bon Temps. We had all the other minorities in our little town – why not the newest, the legally recognized undead?

This is the first installment of the Sookie Stackhouse series, of which I had read so much that I just needed to find out what draws so many of my reading friends to the books about a waitress in northern Louisiana.

On the face of it, Dead Until Dark is based on a theme that would normally make me leave a book on the shelf – vampires and romance. It just screams “Beware of vampire fan fiction, because it might be another Twilight”,  doesn’t it?

However, unlikely as it seemed, I actually liked the book. Sookie and Bill are quite different characters to what they might appear – Sookie, despite her low self-esteem and her concern over her “disability” is a feisty kick-ass kinda heroine who is not waiting to be saved by a knight in shiny armor (which is just as well as Bill is not around when a knight might be expected). Bill, on the other hand, is a thoughtful and diplomatic guy, who doesn’t exactly fit the vampire stereotype – of a bloodsucking menace.

The romance part – which is a huge part of the book – left me cold (as expected) but there are a couple of aspects about the book that really appealed to me:

The way that vampire “subculture” was portrayed reminded me a lot of The Godfather – I don’t know why, but the governance/structure of the vampires did remind me of the mafia, which was a fun comparison to run while reading it.

Second, the portrayal of how the “minority” was treated by “normal” society, the prejudice, the rumors, the curiosity with which the “normal” population engaged with the vampires, obviously related to how other minorities have been viewed in society throughout the ages – mostly with suspicion and fear. Although, Dead Until Dark was mostly a fun read, this was an aspect that brought some depth to the story, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this level of social commentary in a vampire rom-com murder mystery. But then, maybe not all vampire books are as dire as Twilight, and maybe I should have expected something a little more though-provoking.
After all, Dracula was a social commentary on its own time.

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