Dead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine HarrisDead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel

byCharlaine Harris

Mass Market Paperback | May 1, 2001

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about

The first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series that gave life to the Dead and inspired the HBO® original series True Blood.

Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana—except for her “disability.” She can read minds. But she can’t hear a word that Bill Compton is thinking when he walks into her life—and then one of her coworkers is killed...

Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

Charlaine Harris is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse and Midnight, Texas, fantasy/mystery series and the Aurora Teagarden, Harper Connelly, and Lily Bard mystery series. Her books have inspired HBO’s True Blood, NBC’s Midnight, Texas, and the Aurora Teagarden movies for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. She ...
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Title:Dead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse NovelFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 6.81 × 4.25 × 0.78 inPublished:May 1, 2001Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0441008534

ISBN - 13:9780441008537

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! After watching HBO's True Blood for years I decided to give the Sooky Stackhouse series a read and was not dissappointed!
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fun Book! It's a well done intro to the main character Sookie Stackhouse as well as the people in her everyday life, and Bill Compton of course. It's the start to an interesting series.
Date published: 2017-08-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dead Until Dark If you liked the first TV season of True Blood, it followed the storyline of this book fairly closely with only a couple exceptions. #plumreview.
Date published: 2017-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good I really enjoyed this book for what it was, an escapist romance. It reminded me of twilight but written slightly better and with more characterization.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dead Until Dark Great first book in hte series
Date published: 2017-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tru Blood Great horror fantasy series
Date published: 2017-06-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great beginning of series. Harris' beginning was by far one of the best in the series.
Date published: 2017-06-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sookie is adorable Great fresh character, and new spin on the vampire lore that isn't sparkles!!
Date published: 2017-04-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from No wonder this spun into an HBO series Good read, good story, a much older series meant for those who wanted more from Twilight :P
Date published: 2017-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Recommended Just couldn't put it down and ended up purchasing the entire series. I continuously do back to this when I need a fun read with great characters. Give it a try, you wont be disappointed.
Date published: 2017-03-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read! I friend of mine lent me her copy. I really enjoyed. I ended up buying the box set. I need to find time to read the rest.
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Welcome to Bon Temps I read this book after watching some episodes of True Blood, I was like, if the show was this good, then the books must be awesome! And Charlaine Harris did not disappoint. I loved going in the Sookie's life and reading about her adventures with the paranormal. This world gives it all to you, vampires, shape shifters, oh my! I was hooked from the start. It is a story that is compelling and leaves you on the edge of your seat.
Date published: 2017-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love this series! Love this series and read it twice! Love these characters and it is an easy read.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great World Building! I started watching the TV show first so it was great to check out the books that started the phenomenon. The story was good (if familiar thanks to the TV show), but there were some differences. I really really enjoyed reading about the world. That was super cool.
Date published: 2017-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dead Until Dark All the books in this series are fun, easy reads. The first book is probably the best but that's because you've never read anything as fun :)
Date published: 2017-01-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Good Read I enjoyed this book and plan to continue with the series. However, if you were a fan of the show first like myself, I found that the book was not as dark as the TV show, and there are some key differences in regards to characters. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Get it! As a lover of True Blood I decided to read this series. Very well written follows a similar storyline to the show.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic Start to a Great Series Grabs the reader and keeps you interested. I love this book and have read it repeatedly.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! Loved this book! I couldn't put it down, and sped right through it. Sookie is my hero!
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great first series novel I had forgotten the key differences between the show and the books! Sookie is a stronger character in the books than in the show.
Date published: 2014-09-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Review Book 1 has taken me in and glamored me. Looks like I'll be continuing on with the next one.
Date published: 2014-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! I love these books! Although I'm having to re-purchase them in ebook form!
Date published: 2014-04-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was.. The book on a whole was good but i found the ending very cheesy. If tou are going to read this book, don't ecpect it ro be like the show.
Date published: 2014-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It was.. I loved, loved, loved this book. The characters are real, funny, and easy to relate to. Not your usual vampire story. Very refreshing.
Date published: 2013-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love them all I have read everyone of them and watched the show I love both separately for what they are the books ending was very good
Date published: 2013-08-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from TruBlood lover! The books and the show differ greatly, but I still enjoyed this book and will continue to read.
Date published: 2013-08-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book I just read my first charlaine Harris book, and I found it to be a very easy read. I'm more familiar with the show so it will be a little difficult to adapt to the difference. Other then all that the book was great. I did think it would be longer though.
Date published: 2013-08-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dead Until Dark The True Blood show is actually better than the book. But since I've seen all the shows. The book was the next best thing. All in all the book was an easy read and a 3.5. The writing is a little weak. I'm hoping it strengthens in the books to follow.
Date published: 2013-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I love this series!! I'm reading ALL of the novels again, I love the way the series ended, especially after reading the last book, and seeing how she tied everything together!!!<3 I think ANYONE WHO THINKS THIS DIDN'T END ON A HIGH NOTE IS NUTS!!!! Go BACK and read the ENTIRETY of this collection again, then tell me how you could be disappointed? Just because the cast of trueblood contains some who are sexier than others doesn't mean Sookie should end up in the arms of a certain someone. I give Charlaine Harris kudos for staying true to the characters instead of the show!!! I see a lot of miniseries being made from books on HBO, and if I were a novelist I would most likely stay involved with the creation like George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire series novelist, just because I do not like what the writers have done to her characters. Casting had to know the theme and feel of each character, and they did the job right, but the fans aren't giving her the love she deserves, and that is sad. If not for Charlaine Harris, who would've introduced us to these characters? NO ONE!!!!! Keep that in mind the next time any of the threatening fans want to threaten this amazingly creative woman, or WRITE YOUR OWN FANFICTION!!!! Don't down the creator of this world!!! I think Sookie is where she needs to be, I think she's happy, and I for one, am very satisfied with how this turned out. I think having your world turned into something else entirely on a tv show, has to be disappointing. Her books are better than the show, and I think her journey from book to tv, is a cautionary tale to ANYONE who options of the rights to any television network, to remain in the light, to not let someone else have creative control on "interpreting" what you have done so well, without "interpretation". Look to George R.R. Martin, as well as the new HBO miniseries, American Gods, both of these authors have creative control of the script. AND THAT'S THE WAY IT SHOULD BE FOLKS!!!!! GREAT JOB CHARLAINE HARRIS!!!!
Date published: 2013-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dead Until Dark This was my fifth time reading this book. With every reading, I get more involved in the story. I get excited when I decide to start the book. I relearn the characters. Then I've finished the book & I'm a little sad. The books always end in a way that I can't wait to start the next book. So far this is my favorite book in the series
Date published: 2013-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I ENJOYED IT!!!! It was a great book since I love reading vampire books.It has it's own Fantasy, Mystery, Gothic, Romance and Drama. It was an interesting book because it kept me moving towards the end of the book so i could figure out who the murderer is.
Date published: 2013-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from <3 Can't wait to read the next book. Very addictive.
Date published: 2013-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eight Bookcases Check out my review of the Stackhouse series on my blog at: http://8bookcases.blogspot.ca/2012/07/the-sookie-stackhouse-series-by.html
Date published: 2012-07-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Abosutely Great Novel Sookie Stackhouse lives in a town where she works at the Merlotte’s Bar. She is misunderstood by everyone, because of her desire to see a vampire once in her lifetime. One day, at her job, a vampire named Bill comes in. Sookie is ecstatic that this is finally happening, but when Bill arrives town, people are found murdered. While reading the book, you will figure out with Sookie who is the real murderer.This book is not like the well-known novel Twilight, because it’s not a story about killing vampires or other monsters. In this novel, we see vampires in a whole different way. Indeed, vampires are showed as sexy and mysterious creatures. The novel is about a romantic story between a woman and a vampire. In the book, you will also know about Sookie’s friends, family and coworkers.
Date published: 2012-05-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not True Blood If you enjoy the show true blood, I'm not sure if you'll enjoy these books. There more of an easy read. If I hadn't watched the show I might be a bit confused as to what is actually going on cause the writing isn't very clear at times, but I still enjoyed the story line.
Date published: 2012-01-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not the vampire book for me! Having loved the True Blood TV series … actually, having DEVOURED the True Blood TV series … I thought I would enjoy these books. No. Way. From the first page, I knew I was going to be disappointed. The writing was horrible: there didn’t seem to be any thought going into what was being written on paper, so the author had a tendency to write down EVERYTHING, whether it mattered or not. The “love” scenes were horribly written. Worse than Harlequin romances. Since I read the book, I’ve lent it to 3 other people to read and they’ve all had the same feeling – like they’ve been violated. By a book. I never knew that could be possible, but it sure is. Of course, now I have the other 6 books that came in the box set and I don’t think I’ll get around to reading them. I think I’ll stick with the TV show instead.
Date published: 2012-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I wouldn't have thought.. I am not into vampires whatsoever--it was beyond my genre of choosing. However, when a friend gave me this book to read, I couldn't put it down! I absolutely loved it. So, if you aren't into Twilight (or anything along the lines), there is a good chance you will take on a liking for this one.
Date published: 2011-12-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Idea for Vampire Series I found this story to be a refreshing take on the vampire story. The heroine is strong, independent and sassy. The book is written in a style that makes the mystery/horror/fantasy very amusing, funny and fun to read. Considering the topic you might assume that the book would be dark, but its really not. For those who have watched True Blood, this first book is fairly similar with some prime differences you might not expect. After reading all of the books, my preference lies with the series of books rather than the series of television episodes. With that said, the books offer strong consistent characters who experience growth through life's natural (and in this series, unnatural) experiences and struggles. "Dead Until Dark" was very entertaining. I've read the rest of the books in the series and I have to say that each book seems to top the one that came before it. It's a great series.
Date published: 2011-08-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love Sookie Great first book to the series!
Date published: 2011-05-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Average vamp-lit Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in small-town Louisiana with the unique ability of being able to read people's minds. Infact, she has trouble blocking out other's thoughts. When a vampire walks in to the bar, she knows right away and saves him from a couple trying to drain his blood to sell, putting him in her debt. Bill introduces himself and all Sookie hears is silence, she can't read his mind, which is a relief. Sookie very quickly get sucked in (no pun intended) to the vampire world as she gets closer to Bill. However there's a murderer on the loose, killing women that have relationships with vampires and Sookie knows she could be on the hit list. Can the police catch the murderer before he gets to Sookie? I actually picked this book up last year to read it but for some reason couldn't get in to it. This time I didn't have any problems, and found the book to be quite fun, though not as enjoyable as the Undead series by Mary Janice Davidson. About 75% of the way through the book I started getting a little tired of it and wished the story would move along a bit quicker. I'm going to try the next book in the series to see if I want to continue reading the entire series.
Date published: 2011-04-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from just okay Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in a small town in Louisiana. She leads a quiet life because she has a disability, the ability to read minds. Bill, a vampire comes into the bar and Sookie is immediately attracted to him as she can not read his mind and therefore he is very peaceful to her. Around the same time some young women who like to date vampires (fang-bangers) start being murdered. Sookie's brother has known all these women and is the main suspect. As Sookie's relationship with Bill grows, Sookie's grandmother is murdered and Sookie realizes she was the target and starts to get involved in finding the killer. This takes her deeper into the dark world of vampires. As a side story, Sookie's boss is interested in her and happens to be a shape-shifter. This mystery was just a little too easy to figure out. There were times I wanted to slap Sookie as she just didn't seem to care for her own well-being. I really don't know how I feel about the series and will wait for my daughter's reaction on the next in the series.
Date published: 2011-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from SO THIS IS WHAT ALL THE FUSS HAS BEEN ABOUT I must be one of the last people on the planet to read Dead After Dark. I also haven't had a chance (yet) to watch the True Blood series although because it's been all over the media I had a pretty good visual reference for the characters here without actually having to compare the two. I was able to just go along for the ride. And what a ride, I can definitely see now what all the fuss has been about. Honestly I had a hard time putting this down. Harris has created the perfect mixture of paranormal romance, mystery and action. With intriguing, humorous characters and situations and an absorbing, fast moving plot. Her take on Vampiric society is fresh and fascinating and I appreciated how we were continually reminded that despite "coming out" vampires are still very much predators. I also found Sookie to be incredibly relatable despite her "disability" and supernatural circumstances. Harris just has a way of making her feel all girl next door so that we discover everything right along with her. I also loved Harris's portrait of small town America and in this case it's unique bar patrons whom I felt like I knew. This could be in part because I'm from a small town and I also cocktailed for years so the characters seemed familiar to me. Whatever the case I'm glad I finally got around to reading this series. Sookie lives in the real world of small town Louisiana. She is a pretty cocktail waitress, lives with her grandmother and because of her telepathic "disability" keeps to herself. The people in Bon Temps tend to think that Sookie's a little crazy because she knows things she shouldn't and acts strange while her mental "guard" is up. Everything changes the day Bill walks into her bar and orders a bottle of synthetic blood. Bill is a vampire and ever since they entered mainstream society she's wanted to meet one. To make things even more interesting Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking, Bill might just be her perfect match, except of course for the fact that he's dead. Unfortunately soon after Bill arrives people start turning up dead, in particular waitresses. After an attack at her grandmother's house Sookie fears she might be next. Then there's Bill's creepy group of friends, the recent Elvis sightings, her brothers illicit behaviour and all of a sudden her boss isn`t quite who he appears to be either. So like I said I really enjoyed this, the love scenes are steamy and dirty (think outdoors, mud, and covered in blood dirty) and Bill well he is just delicious in a dangerous bad boy wanting to brush your hair kinda way. The romance aspect here was very good. I also really liked Sam's character and appreciated how his true self wasn't revealed right away. Bubba was another awesome little addition and the many townsfolk and their idiosyncrasies were fantastic. There are some surprising moments here and I never really knew where things were going to go next. Although I'll be honest I had a tough time keeping straight who was who. Getting many of (the many) secondary characters mixed up so that even at the end when the killer was revealed I had to back track to figure out who it was. Can't recommend this one enough
Date published: 2011-02-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from This is not Twilight So, no disrespect to Twilight, I find those books entertaining too, but if you're looking for something a little more grown up, give the Sookie Stackhouse series a try. There's an intelligence to Harris' writing, and it's an interesting spin on the vampire genre. In Harris' world, the existence of vampires is acknowledged (although how they came to be isn't exactly accurate) and there is an attempt by some to "mainstream" themselves, that is, live among the humans. In Dead Until Dark, there's a murderer running around killing women similar in profile to our Sookie, and due to her power (mind reading) she gets drawn into the investigation.The climax was very well done, I didn't guess who did it. My only complaint would be that there are a couple very graphic depictions of sex. I'm not a prude and yet I still feel the need to warn about them, if that gives you an idea of what they're like. However, once you get past them, it's smooth sailing from them on.
Date published: 2010-12-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The best way to kill time if your date stands you up... This is a really great book to jump into with both feet. It has a little bit of everything, suspense, murder, mystery, fantasy... and yes dating a vampire as well. This read is anything but predictable. If you were a fan of the Twilight saga this is a definite, more adult must read. This is a refreshing twist on the typical teenage vampire love story. Set in small-town Louisiana this novel sets up a one of a kind atmosphere, Charlaine Harris writes so if you can picture yourself sitting in the bar that the main character Sookie Stackhouse works at. You are thrown into a world where vampires have just come out into the public eye, people are still wary and distrustful and murders surrounding people that associate with vampires are on the rise. This book will not do anything to educate or inspire, but let the unconventional romance between a telepathic barmaid and her boyfriend born over 100 years prior, simply entertain you. Just be prepared to start an addiction that will last for the entire series. This talented author has written another nine books to compliment this first. With each book getting better and adding another element to intrigue. Although I would not suggest reading these books if you have already started watching the HBO television series called True Blood, as it differs greatly from the storyline of the novels and would provide for some confusion.
Date published: 2010-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful!! DEAD UNTIL DARK by Charlaine Harris I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK! I've loved vampires since I was very young, I read my first Anne Rice novel when I was around 12 years old and fell in love with it, but I've never read any of the "new" kind of vamps, so this book was something new for me. (Yes, that means I haven't read Twilight, gasp!) Well, I adore this book. It had the supernatural aspect of the vampires mixed perfectly with a wide array of characters, from the naive to the flamboyant. DEAD UNTIL DARK was thrilling, funny, sexy, and just plain wonderful. I did have to get used to the first person writing, which I don't think I've ever come across before, but once I did I ended up really liking the storytelling effect it had. I enjoyed all the characters immensely, they drawn you in completely. Before I had even finished this book I had already decided to read more of the series. I highly recommend it for vampire lovers (or should I say "fangbangers"? lol) as well as those new to the whole vampire novels scene. I mean, c'mon, who wouldn't want to read about a telepathic waitress and a vampire named Bill? ;) Overall Opinion: A+ Visit my blog for the full review and more! http://kaylasbookcase.blogspot.com/
Date published: 2010-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I am a fan of the TV show True Blood and the books but I treat them like two seperate entities because it is not fair to either to compare them. I am re-reading the books right now to try and refreash my memory before I read the newest book and to try and guess what they might include or leave out of the show. It is a really fun read.
Date published: 2010-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Guilty Pleasure While this book won't enlighten you or change the way you view the world, it will entertain you. Looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series. As a fan of True Blood, the HBO series, there are some differences between the tv show and the books, but I am a fan of both.
Date published: 2010-05-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I'm a Sookie fan but not because of this book The first book in the southern vampire series, while a great jumping off point is certainly not the strongest. I bought it as part of the box set and about halfway through i began wondering if i had made a mistake. Here we meet Sookie and Bill and the whole cast of characters and in this first story it comes off more cheesy love/lust (?) fest with a murder thrown in than the fun tongue in cheek stuff the series has become. Also as the first in a series it spends a lot of time with introductions and descriptions which are never Ms Harris' strong point. My advice, if you didn't love it don't give up on Sookie I was much more interested and invested after reading Living Dead in Dallas
Date published: 2010-04-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Can't wait to read more NOT on TV I held off reading this series for quite a while because the TV show just didn't do it for me. Must ssay it took a bit to get through the book, only becuase the show crept its way in :) I much prefer the books and will now read the series to get ahead of the show and avoid the taint
Date published: 2010-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read!! The book started off with action and it kept me hooked till the ending. One thing I must say is this book it’s anything but predictable, you may think you know what’s coming but never underestimate the element of surprise. Thank god when I did decided to pick this book up it was summer vacation or else I would recommend taking sometime because you will not be able to wait time to start the second one. I’m proud to say that after the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series I’m in love with this series. I think anyone who appreciates a love story some action and vampires should pick up a copy.
Date published: 2010-01-31
Rated 1 out of 5 by from So bad I could not even finish it. Yet another author trying to jump on the supernatural bandwagon and failing. I picked up this book because I am a huge fan of Kim Harrison and I know she has done work with Charlaine Harris. This book is TERRIBLE. When I reach the point where the blatant racism of the author began to emerge, I just had to stop. Of course, racism is a common theme, but this wasn't written as this character is racist or that's just the way it is, it comes across as the author saying 'I am racist'. It's offensive and I don't like it. The Southern States have seriously got to drop segregation already! The people in this book are all disgusting. They all sleep around with everyone else, except for the main character of course, who is apparently the only virgin in Louisiana. Seriously, who sits around and talks about sex with their grandmother? Now to the technical stuff that drove me nuts from page one and on. Words were used incorrectly so many times it's not even funny. For example; imperative, crucial and eloquent. There were continuity mistakes on the same page. Charlaine's internal editor can be heard the whole time. Everything she puts in brackets you can tell is her talking and not the character. She couldn't be bothered to find another way to word the sentence and so stuck the extra thought in brackets. And lastly, but likely most importantly, the characters were BORING! So boring! I wasn't interested in anything any of them had to say. They were all surface and no depth. I mean Bill the Vampire goes to talk to a group about the Civil War and all he could think to say was there wasn't much food and never enough blankets??? At 150 pages in I still didn't care about a single character. I didn't care that anyone was dead and I was not even remotely interested in finding out who killed them. Dead Until Dark = DUD. Coincidence? I think not.
Date published: 2010-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not as good as the show but still very good I have watched the first two seasons of the tv series first before reading the books, and while the book was very good, the show has a lot more detail while still keeping very close to the book. There was one notable exception, Tara, she's not in the first book, but I'm told she appears later. I find it amazing that there was enough in one book to make an entire season of tv, and I will definitely be reading ahead to see what happens, especially with Eric, Bill's boring. 38/1000
Date published: 2010-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Don't skip because you love the TV series As a fan of HBO's True Blood I didn't know what to expect when I picked up the first title in the True Blood series. They always say that you shouldn't read the book after you've seen the movie but in this case you can put aside that advice. The TV series stayed true to the book so there weren't too many surprises story wise but I found that reading the book was almost like encountering the story for the first time. The twists and turns were more compelling and there was more storytelling in the book than in the TV series. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the True Blood series.
Date published: 2009-12-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Vampire Bill is boring Very very boring-The Vampire boyfriend anyway. I read the book before I saw the show and I like the show much better.
Date published: 2009-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WoW. I absolutely adored this book. It was a very nice read, with some murder, mystery and romance (of course - the supernatural kind) and it was well-written. This book got me hooked from page one and was a definite page-turner!
Date published: 2009-10-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed feelings.... Having been a fan of the show prior to reading the book, it took me a while to get into it. The show has better character development and additional story lines. And the sex scenes really aren't my thing, in the book. I'm not into romance novels and would rather read about vampires and other monsters. But I'll read the next in the series..... I did buy the box set afterall.
Date published: 2009-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it!!! Too good for words.
Date published: 2009-09-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Authentic I found this book to bring authentic characters to the reader in its supernatural setting. Worth the read!
Date published: 2009-08-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Read This series is an interesting spin on the supernatural. Vampires are almost like rock stars to some who vie for their 'attention'. Their presence is new to the town of Bon Temps and aren't fully accepted by the townspeople. A mystery ensues after a string of murders. A romanctic relationship developes between a vampire and Sookie, the heroine of the story. While I was intriged by the unique talents of Sookie, I wasn't completely drawn in by her character. I found some of her reactions and actions a bit off putting - I'm not fond of women who play mind games...and she does this a bit. Having said that, she holds redeeming strength and self-control, and I like that she tries as hard as she does to live a normal life. I quite like the vampire, Bill. He shows a great deal of restraint and honour. By the end of the book, he is still a mystery to me. The book is well written and I liked it enough. I would recommend it to readers who would enjoy a mystery mixed with paranormal, but it isn't my favourite series. Who knows, it may get better.
Date published: 2009-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty enjoyable. My friend recommended this book to me and I thought it was very good. I was immediately fond of the characters in the story which made it that much better. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Date published: 2009-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fangtastically Fun Charlaine Harris, creates worlds that are fun and will suck you in to believing the unbelievable. Vampires, shape shifters and more. In this one Sookie a Louisiana waitress that also happens to be a telepath, is slowly going crazy trying to block out others intrusive thoughts. It is all this distraction that causes all the town folk think she is crazy. So when Bill Compton Bon Temps first vampire moves into town, Sookie is fascinated, at last someone that is as different as she is. She is even more drawn to him, as she discovers she cannot read his mind, so with Bill she can find the peace she has never known here whole life. Not everyone in Bon Temps is as excited and open minded as Sookie, and bodies start piling up in town. It seems that the only thing all the victims have in common is that they are vampire friendly or bitten. When Sookie's grandmother is killed she figures that she was the intended target. Since, the police department seems inept, Sookie and her friends must find the killer before he gets to her. This is a nice light read despite the subject matter. Harris does a great job of character and plot development. If I had one criticism it would be a couple of inconstancies (at least to me) that were not explained in the book. But, they may be explained further on in the series, so for now I can live with them.
Date published: 2009-08-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Harlequin Romance - don't go looking for more than that! While Charlaine Thomas provides an unusual twist in the proliferation of vampire novels (series) - vampires are accepted in the general community; her characters are straight out of a harlequin romance. While the main character starts off being a bit quirky and likeable, often the plot puts her in situations where she makes annoying choices and eventually becomes predictable. The book is suppose to be a murder mystery yet spends a fair bit of time detailing Sookie and Bill's sexual escapades. It would of been more interesting if Charlaine had spent some time developing the 'who-dunnit' component of this novel. Character development could also have had more work - such as Bill. Certainly not the strongest vampire series, but if you want a quick read with some sex and good-looking people, this series will do. Go out to the lake open up a bottle of wine with chocolet and you will enjoy this series. NOTE: Parents beware - definitely not for kids under 14 (possibly 15 - I suppose it depends) -- sex scenes, violent deaths, and pedophilia is discussed.
Date published: 2009-08-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I expected The first thing I thought when I started this book was that the writing was poor. I kept reading however and eventually the story line sucked me in. Overall it was an interesting book with an intriguing story line that kept me engrossed. It is similar to Twilight in that the writing is not of the highest quality.
Date published: 2009-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I read the series in one week... Couldn't put it down.. I love the characters and the plots. It was soooo great. Sookie was a believable person and it was always exciting. I didn't think anything could be better than the twilight saga but this was up there. Her love interests and near death experiences were fabulous. It is the best money I spent..... Trust me read the books.
Date published: 2009-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Please, Please, Please! Keep Them Coming! This entire series should come with a warning label: Addicting. Harris builds an amazing set of original, believable characters in a near exhausted genre. Sookie is one of the best heroines I've come across in a while, she's sweet, funny, honest, and curious- a dangerous characteristic in the world she finds herself immersed in. I'm so glad I decided to pick up "Dead Until Dark" after hearing and reading so much about it, and I'm secretly hoping the series never ends, but of course I have to know what happens to everyone. Damn those catch 22's...
Date published: 2009-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great Read! I decided to read this book because it seemed to be very popular, though I have never watched the tv show. I thought it was a great read, I loved the premise that the vampires live among the people and everyone knows about it. The characters are all very interesting and well written. I like that they are all a little different so I was never in a position where I confused them. Overall, a great read that I definitely recommend.
Date published: 2009-07-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Better then the show!! I watched the show before I read the book and I have to say there are some things about the show I don't like. When the vampires have been killed they make them really disgusting creatures. What I like about the book is that even though she's dating a really nice vampire, he's still kind of evil on the inside. He doesn't spare people if they try to hurt sookie. The show is alot like the book but they did change some things which I personally don't agree with. The book does have a better ending and I think more entertaining. The book does have some raunchy scenes so if you're not into that sort of thing then you shouldn't read it. And I just want to point one thing out, although when I first read the description of this book I thought the author had taken some ideas from Twilight, I really was wrong, and if you read the book you will know what I mean.
Date published: 2009-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from i woudl give this a 4.5 I would give this a 4.5 if i could so instead i am rounding down. this book was awesome the only thing i didn't really like was the twilight feel to it now im not sure whether this came before twilight or whatever but i mean part of the story is girl meets vampire girl falls in love with vampire there is a second character who loves her who has a twist that i won't give away blah blah blah all very twilighty but besides that it was awesome the murder mystery part of this book kept you guessing and who the murderer was just surprised me to no end i was guessing all wrong the entire book. anyways it was a fantastic read and i highly recommend it to any fantasy/murder mystery lovers i definitely plan to buy the rest of the series cause i read this one in like a day no joke could not put it down!!!!
Date published: 2009-06-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris is the first of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and is written in first person through the eyes of Sookie. I wish I had read it before completing season one of True Blood because I knew the results of many of the events. There are some parts, however, that were not shown on True Blood. The novel became much more interesting after getting through a hundred pages. Sookie's life changes when she encounters a vampire in Bon Temps, Louisiana at her workplace, Merlotte's. She's no ordinary 26-year-old bar waitress, she can read people's minds. She hears the ill intentions of a couple and rescues Bill Compton the Vampire, thus acquiring his affection. Although vampires are now being accepted into the world, it does not mean that everyone is willing to consent to this change. For the first time after six years, a murderer is loose in Bon Temps and is strangling women who associated with vampires. Will the murder be discovered? Or will it be too late for Sookie? Discover more about Bill and the world of vampires. 3/5
Date published: 2009-06-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fun Watching the first episode of "True Blood" is what turned me on to this book. I had heard great things about it from those who were experiencing "Twilight" withdrawal. Harris has created a world of her own with strong, interesting characters and a unique mythology. Harris has infused her book with southern charm that is as endearing as the action is exciting. She has successfully blended several genres (romance, fantasy, horror) to create something totally new and very entertaining. Hope you enjoy it!
Date published: 2009-06-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Better than I thought Okay, I thought this was going to be a chick-lit story, but you know, as I read it, I really liked it. The characters were "real" and I grew to like and hate them. It is a well written story and I will be reading the next book in this series.
Date published: 2009-06-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not bad I have mixed feelings about the first book. Wasn't what I expected. However as you continue with the series, it gets better. It's not like the True Blood series. It has a different story line.
Date published: 2009-06-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Better than I expected I read a few mixed reviews of this. I just wanted to read it b4 i started watching the show True Blood that's based on these novels. I really liked this first book. Yes it was a little slow and one dimensional but I love Sookie. She is strong, funny, smart quick witted and sexy. Its dark and lighthearted at the same time. I have a feeling things will get rocky between eric, sookie and bill.. the series seems very promising to me so far.
Date published: 2009-05-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty Good Not the best vampire novel, but I really did like Sookie (the main character). She is very relatable and that is super important for me in a book. She is just a southern girl, who works in a bar so you feel like this amazing story (dark fairy tale) could happen to anyone.
Date published: 2009-05-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from OK, but not as good as I expected... Having just finished reading this, the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, I will say that I do intend to pick up at least a couple of the sequels ... however I also found Dead Until Dark to be quite lacking in a few key areas for me. First and foremost, I get easily disappointed with a read when the characters act in ways that just don't seem natural, when their motives, behaviour, choices, thoughts etc. just don't add up to what I might expect a real, live person might do. I found this was frequently the case with Charlaine Harris' writing, as I just wasn't convinced of the legitimacy of Sookie's emotions, reactions, decisions and considerations in many cases... I did enjoy the fiery chemistry as she eased into a relationship with Bill, the vampire, but then I felt that his character could have used more developing on a deeper level; I get that vampires are generally cold-hearted, for the most part lacking in the human emotions that they have long since left behind, but as we got to know Bill a little more throughout the book, it would have been nice to see more dimension to his ultimately rather flat personality. There was some decent background on his former life, but I feel like Harris needed to open him up to us a little bit more... On the plus side, the fictional world in which vampires are an 'accepted' albeit taboo part of society provided a unique and interesting backdrop to the story, and I'll look forward to learning more of that world's intricacies as the series progresses.
Date published: 2009-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fantastic novel. All I can say is wow. Dead Until Dark was such a great novel. Kudos to Charlaine Harris. Book # 1 of the Sookie Stackhouse Series... A world of humans, vampires and shapeshifters. This book does not even require a review. My recommendation is... JUST READ IT. You don't know what you are missing! PS - If you love the book, be sure to check out the HBO series True Blood (based on the Sookie Stackhouse Series)!
Date published: 2009-05-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fun Vampire Fare I'd read this book a few years ago, on the advice of a Co-Worker, and with the television show bringing the series back to the forefront, decided to re-read it. Instead, I listened to it unabridged, and found that as an audiobook, it was a delightful experience. Sookie Stackhouse reads minds. She can't help it, and considers it a disability, and that has pretty much ruined her dating life. Then she meets Bill, a vampire, and his mind is closed to her, and the titilation that represents is just too much to ignore. Except bodies of women who'd been known to "hang around" with vampires begin to pile up, and soon Sookie is wondering just who she can trust - and it doesn't take a mind reader to know she might be in very serious danger. As the start of a series, 'Dead until Dark' sometimes becomes very heavy on the explanation (though, to set up a series, this is often required), but at the core of it, this is a fun, light mystery with a great heroine who has a solid inner voice and narrative character.
Date published: 2009-04-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Edgy and New Even though I already knew what was going to happen in this novel—since I’d already watched the first season of True Blood—I was still hooked. It was a light, enjoyable read and I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. I will definitely be picking up the next in the series. Charlaine Harris writes a new and interesting world, that's dark, twisted and fun.
Date published: 2009-04-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dead Until Dark The book was unlike anything I have read before. There are many southern expressions (and some of which I have no idea what they are about). However, the overall story was good. It's about Sookie, who can read people's minds. She lives in a world where humans know about vampires. Then one day, Bill, who is a vampire, came into the bar that she works at. Learning that Bill was in trouble, Sookie set out to save him. From there, they developed a relationship, even though people frowned upon the idea of a human dating a vampire. However, Sookie's co-workers begin to get murdered, and people suspect Bill. If you have read twilight, this is very different. I enjoyed this book and I have just started to read the second in the series. The novel, in my opinion, lacks some events. Not much seems to happen within the book, but overall, I enjoyed it.
Date published: 2009-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow After reading these books I started watching True Blood on HBO they are both amazing. What a unique series. Charlaine Harris is truly funny and I enjoyed the book very much. (i have read all 8 so far, and i'm just getting around to writing a review). This book is an introduction to Sookie's World. It isn't the best of the bunch but an amazing first book to an excellent series. Sookie is a telepath watiress who meets a vampire named Bill. The vampires have just told the world 2 years before that they exist and "have come out of the coffins". The world is just starting to accept them. Sookie can read everyone's mind except Vampires and therefore finds Bill alot more appealing. Murders start happening in their little town and people are looking at Bill. But then the police starting thinking it may be Sookie's brother Jason because he has had sex with most of the girls that were murdered. Sookie starts using her telepathic abilities to try to figure out who is murdering the woman to help her brother. But she is also a person who the murderer is trying to come after. Addictive book and a great first book to get you hooked onto the series. The series gets better and better. I also love this book because it introduces us to Eric whom I absolutly love in all the books.
Date published: 2009-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ABSOLUTLEY GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a story!!! I ordered the whole 7 book box set and the eight book only available in hard cover until March 31st, the 8th book comes out in paperback, but I couldn't wait. The 9th book, I read comes out in May. And there will be a 10th book to the series I read comes out in October this year!!! So excited!! Truly an amazing series that keeps you imagination running and well for me atleast, I could not put down any of the books.
Date published: 2009-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Light and Refreshing I found this book very refreshing. It is one of those books you love reading on a rainy afternoon just a very light and relaxed read. The characters lack depth and the plot takes a little while to get you hooked but once you are you can't help but love the book. I will definately have to read the rest of the series.
Date published: 2009-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Covering the Story well... i havent read the book yet, but i own it. sad i know but the thing that bugs me is that the cover of the first book is so cool, but the other ones look like a four year old made them! i know that the cover shouldnt matter, but in truth it does!
Date published: 2009-02-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Watching "True Blood" spoils this read. Don't you just hate it when you can see the ending coming a mile away? As is the case of "Dead Until Dark" but only because I've seen (and love) "True Blood". I will most likely read the next book because I feel that knowing the majority of the plot before I started the book ruined the element of surprise. We'll see how the next one reads.
Date published: 2009-02-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing I have read a lot of great reviews about this book and this whole series in general, but I have to say I was really disappointed after reading it. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I honestly did not find a part that I loved about this book. For me, the characters play a large part in my rating of a book. And I personally found Sookie and most of the other characters annoying. Even the vampire was boring. I definitely don't think I will be picking up any of her other books in the series.
Date published: 2009-02-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from OVER RATED I found this book dissapointing. I found the main character - Sookie to be a bit of a twit and her brother annoying as hell. Sookie's vampire interest seemed like a dud. The whole town is annoying. Everything about this book was annoying and I don't get why it has gotten so popular. I think it's rather silly and dissapointing.
Date published: 2009-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Ok. Somewhat disappointing after the TrueBlood Series After watching the TrueBlood series on HBO, I have to honestly say I was a little disappointed. In general , I find that the movies/series are never as good as the actual novel. However, while I found Dead Until Dark" to be an OK read, I am decidedly disappointed.
Date published: 2009-01-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Quite a surprise! It was a great read, although, according to me, it was a bit slow in the beginning. When I started reading it, I wasn't very much into it. I felt it didn't have enough "action" or "excitement". It was very simple. BUT, I'm glad I didn't stop reading it! I really really liked it, especially from chapter 6 until the end. From chapter 6 on, a lot of things and events happen, making Sookie's story (the main character) a lot more interesting!! I'll definately read book number 2 to see what's going on in Sookie's life. Another thing I really liked, is that it's not very predictable; so you do get a couple of surprises towards the end that you do not see coming. That's definately a plus! For the writing style, it's quite simple and therefor easy to read. So if you're looking for a fast read, this is a pretty good one!
Date published: 2009-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great!!!! 5/5 This book is really good!!! People are saying it's like Twilight but its really not!!!! This one uses the classic vampires not the "vegetarian" ones!!!!! I can't wait to see whats gonna happen in the rest of the books!!!!! 5/5
Date published: 2009-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Series! This is only the beginning. Sookie Stackhouse is a fabulous character with spunk and a hilarious nature. I burned through all 8 books and I am waiting with excitement for the ninth installment Dead and Gone in May 09. Each story is funny, and exciting and a touch of romance to make it interesting. Great for guys and girls who love the supernatural.
Date published: 2009-01-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pulpy Vampire Fun Nowhere near the best vampire book ever written, Dead Until Dark is also far from the worst. And its worth reading...if for no other reason than because it proves books are not always better than their cinematic counterparts. Charlaine Harris' opening book in the Sookie Stackhouse series is just original enough to be interesting. Her slight twists on the Vampire genre, like True Blood (a synthetic blood that keeps Vampire's fed but not satiated) and the mainstreaming of Vampires, are nice little flourishes, which make an otherwise mundane serial killer mystery worth reading. But it is the adaptability of Harris' characters to HBO that makes Dead Until Dark compelling enough to pursue past the first book. The characters come alive on screen. They were made for a modern day Dark Shadows melodrama and Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, American Beauty) nails the melodrama on the HBO series with the added titillation of stylish nudity and graphic violence allowed by the medium. Moreover, there are characters and subplots in the book that haven't yet appeared in the series, and I want to find out more about them, although I think it is more out of curiosity generated by the series than it is curiosity generated by Harris' words. Indeed, without the television series I wonder how much I would have liked the story of Bill the Vampire's love for Sookie, the kooky, southern telepath. I am fairly certain I would still have liked it more than I liked the painfully precious [book:Twilight], but nowhere near as much I liked [book:Interview with the Vampire]. Even now Dead Until Dark falls somewhere between those two books, but it is much closer to Anne Rice's Gothic sexiness than it is to Stephenie Meyer's Mormon Vampire schmaltz. If you're watching True Blood on television, give Dead Until Dark a chance. The source material, even with its pulpiness, is worth a look, and it is a nice supplement while you're waiting for the next episode.
Date published: 2008-11-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Erotic, to say the least This is the first book of the Southern Vampire series, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse series. It’s about this cute, little, blonde-hair, blue-eye, telepathic woman (Sookie) who has a fixation with vampires. Sookie lives and works in a small southern town and hopes every day that a vampire will walk into the bar. Vampires have a right to live in this town (in this world) and most places actually keep bottled synthetic blood on hand, in the event that a vampire ever decides to pay them a visit. The story says that one day a man gets infected with a virus which makes him pale-skinned, allergic to the sun and silver, ‘thirsty’ and basically undead. Even in this novel part of the story is myth but you’re left to make of that whatever you want. One day Vampire Bill walks into the bar where Sookie works and her life is turned upside down. She soon learns that she is unable to read the minds of vampires and she feels much more relaxed around Bill. Read more at: http://justkickinit.ca/2008/10/24/dead-until-dark-by-charlaine-harris/
Date published: 2008-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from UNIQUE This as a totally different approach to a vampire story and I thoroughly enjoyed this variation from the typical. We have all read stories about all of these characters, either in the same or individual stories, at one time or another. This book is exceptionally original but with characters that are made to seem to be as common as you and I. I am ejoying the rest of the series and watching the show.
Date published: 2008-11-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not so great. I am apparently the only one who didn't enjoy this book. I was intrigued by the idea of synthetic blood allowing vampires to merge with society and become accepted citizens. But, once I started reading the book I was disappointed with the way the book didn't really delve into the struggles a vampire would face while trying to assimilate with modern society. Also, I felt that the author's writing abilities was lacking and actually thought the book was poorly written. Several times I found the author interrupting the flow of a dialogue between two characters in order to give a lengthy description of a character's thoughts or an unnecessary back-history to ether the character or the events leading to the conversation. A writer should not interject thoughts unless there is a pause in the conversation - which she did quite often. Also, I found myself having to figure out what she was trying to convey, because she wasn't clear in her setup or description of what was happening. There were other times that the author skimmed over conversations (i.e.: the vampire talking about his past) and then described in detail something mundane (i.e.: thoroughly cleaning a house). I find it surprising that the book was made into an HBO series, but I've noticed that the True Blood series has several additional story lines – probably because they felt the story was lacking as well.
Date published: 2008-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An addictive read The first chapter pulled me in. This book has so much to offer. Its a new look on Vampires and is very creative. Its funny and very witty. The sensual atmosphere is griping and makes your blood boil. A must read for vampire lovers who like humor and wit and hot vampires.
Date published: 2008-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic and True to Vampire Legends! This book is the first of the southern vampire series, of which I will be sure to continue reading. In this world, which is just like ours, vampires have "come out of the coffin" to live among humans, with the assistance of "true blood", a synthetic blood that sustains vampires. The story is about a southern waitress named Sookie, who meets a vampire named Bill, and I wont spoil anything, but so much happens in this book, ranging from their blossoming relationship, to vampire politics, to the struggle of vampires being accepted among humans, and MURDER. Definitely a great mix! This book is now a HBO series called True Blood, which I also recommend!
Date published: 2008-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dead until Dark This book is such a fun read that keeps you interested until the very last page. It's a book that you can sit and read for hours without noticing the time fly by. Sookie Stackhouse is such a bright, strong and brave heroin who just wants to be normal but is in fact absolutely fascinating. This book is the beginning where you meet all the important characters that you will continue to see throughout the whole series. All you need to know is that its fun, sexy, romantic, scary and adventurous.
Date published: 2008-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome read! I hadn't wanted to read this book because the cover made me think of a children's book, but I finally decided to give it a try and I absolutly loved it!!. I enjoyed everything about this book and kept turning the pages wanting more, I can't wait till get I the following books in this series. Really really good.
Date published: 2008-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wickedly Entertaining Sookie Stackhouse is a normal rural southern girl, works as a barmaid, pretty and polite, theres just one tiny thing that makes her standout... she's a telepath. Which, not surprisingly, makes it pretty tricky to get/keep a date! Enter Bill, who just happens to be tall, dark, and undead. Which means, that Sookie can't read his mind! She's thrilled...but yet again, just one small catch... that whole, undead thing. Bill, is a vampire. But everyone has their flaws right? This book is extremely entertaining, its funny, and enjoyable right up to the very last words. The characters are engaging and rich, even the ones you don't like! I loved this book, and I would definetly recommend it to anyone.
Date published: 2008-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite series This is the first book in one of my favorite series. It outlines the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid, as she meets a vampire for the first time. Charlaine Harris does an excellent job finding the viewpoint of Sookie and sticking with it, keeping the dialog and tone of the book fun and believable. Although I wouldn't say this was a humorous book, it definitely isn't dark like the Anita Blake series or its peers. This book (and most of the series) is a solid five out of five, for a good read and a great story.
Date published: 2007-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect Balance of Wicked Fun I'm really glad I decided to get into the Southern Vampire series. There's something endearing about Sookie and in many ways she reacts to situations similarly to the way I feel I would. This makes her much more easy to identify with. It's not overally graphic in terms of descriptive methods (see Laurell K. Hamilton for more gore), but it's most certainly not censored either, which makes for a good balance. I certainly look forward to reading more.
Date published: 2006-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best series ever written! At first I didn't like this book because the characters weren't doing what I wanted them to do. But then once the book got started...WATCH OUT! Now it's one of my favorite series and I wait longingly until Ms. Harris puts out the next installment. A must-read for those who like the supernatural series of Laurell Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Mary Janice Davidson, or Julie Kenner.
Date published: 2006-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stackhouse rocks! Anyone who is in love with Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake will adore Sookie Stackhouse just as much! She's like Anita, before she got tied to Jean-Claude so irreversibly. Sookie is quick, enjoyable, and addictive :)
Date published: 2005-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ***** wickedly edgy.
Date published: 2005-08-16

Read from the Book

1I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar.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? But rural northern Louisiana wasn’t too tempting to vampires, apparently; on the other hand, New Orleans was a real center for them—the whole Anne Rice thing, right?It’s not that long a drive from Bon Temps to New Orleans, and everyone who came into the bar said that if you threw a rock on a street corner you’d hit one. Though you better not.But I was waiting for my own vampire.You can tell I don’t get out much. And it’s not because I’m not pretty. I am. I’m blond and blue-eyed and twenty-five, and my legs are strong and my bosom is substantial, and I have a waspy waistline. I look good in the warm-weather waitress outfit Sam picked for us: black shorts, white T, white socks, black Nikes.But I have a disability. That’s how I try to think of it.The bar patrons just say I’m crazy.Either way, the result is that I almost never have a date. So little treats count a lot with me.And he sat at one of my tables—the vampire.I knew immediately what he was. It amazed me when no one else turned around to stare. They couldn’t tell! But to me, his skin had a little glow, and I just knew.I could have danced with joy, and in fact I did do a little step right there by the bar. Sam Merlotte, my boss, looked up from the drink he was mixing and gave me a tiny smile. I grabbed my tray and pad and went over to the vampire’s table. I hoped that my lipstick was still even and my ponytail was still neat. I’m kind of tense, and I could feel my smile yanking the corners of my mouth up.He seemed lost in thought, and I had a chance to give him a good once-over before he looked up. He was a little under six feet, I estimated. He had thick brown hair, combed straight back and brushing his collar, and his long sideburns seemed curiously old-fashioned. He was pale, of course; hey, he was dead, if you believed the old tales. The politically correct theory, the one the vamps themselves publicly backed, had it that this guy was the victim of a virus that left him apparently dead for a couple of days and thereafter allergic to sunlight, silver, and garlic. The details depended on which newspaper you read. They were all full of vampire stuff these days.Anyway, his lips were lovely, sharply sculpted, and he had arched dark brows. His nose swooped down right out of that arch, like a prince’s in a Byzantine mosaic. When he finally looked up, I saw his eyes were even darker than his hair, and the whites were incredibly white.``What can I get you?” I asked, happy almost beyond words.He raised his eyebrows. ``Do you have the bottled synthetic blood?” he asked.``No, I’m so sorry! Sam’s got some on order. Should be in next week.”``Then red wine, please,” he said, and his voice was cool and clear, like a stream over smooth stones. I laughed out loud. It was too perfect.``Don’t mind, Sookie, mister, she’s crazy,” came a familiar voice from the booth against the wall. All my happiness deflated, though I could feel the smile still straining my lips. The vampire was staring at me, watching the life go out of my face.``I’ll get your wine right away,” I said, and strode off, not even looking at Mack Rattray’s smug face. He was there almost every night, he and his wife Denise. I called them the Rat Couple. They’d done their best to make me miserable since they’d moved into the rent trailer at Four Tracks Corner. I had hoped that they’d blow out of Bon Temps as suddenly as they’d blown in.When they’d first come into Merlotte’s, I’d very rudely listened in to their thoughts—I know, pretty low-class of me. But I get bored like everyone else, and though I spend most of my time blocking out the thoughts of other people that try to pass through my brain, sometimes I just give in. So I knew some things about the Rattrays that maybe no one else did. For one thing, I knew they’d been in jail, though I didn’t know why. For another, I’d read the nasty thoughts Mack Rattray had entertained about yours truly. And then I’d heard in Denise’s thoughts that she’d abandoned a baby she’d had two years before, a baby that wasn’t Mack’s.And they didn’t tip, either.Sam poured a glass of the house red wine, looking over at the vampire’s table as he put it on my tray.When Sam looked back at me, I could tell he too knew our new customer was undead. Sam’s eyes are Paul Newman blue, as opposed to my own hazy blue gray. Sam is blond, too, but his hair is wiry and his blond is almost a sort of hot red gold. He is always a little sunburned, and though he looks slight in his clothes, I have seen him unload trucks with his shirt off, and he has plenty of upper body strength. I never listen to Sam’s thoughts. He’s my boss. I’ve had to quit jobs before because I found out things I didn’t want to know about my boss.But Sam didn’t comment, he just gave me the wine. I checked the glass to make sure it was sparkly clean and made my way back to the vampire’s table.``Your wine, sir,” I said ceremoniously and placed it carefully on the table exactly in front of him. He looked at me again, and I stared into his lovely eyes while I had the chance. ``Enjoy,” I said proudly. Behind me, Mack Rattray yelled, ``Hey, Sookie! We need another pitcher of beer here!” I sighed and turned to take the empty pitcher from the Rats’ table. Denise was in fine form tonight, I noticed, wearing a halter top and short shorts, her mess of brown hair floofing around her head in fashionable tangles. Denise wasn’t truly pretty, but she was so flashy and confident that it took awhile to figure that out.A little while later, to my dismay, I saw the Rattrays had moved over to the vampire’s table. They were talking at him. I couldn’t see that he was responding a lot, but he wasn’t leaving either.``Look at that!” I said disgustedly to Arlene, my fellow waitress. Arlene is redheaded and freckled and ten years older than me, and she’s been married four times. She has two kids, and from time to time, I think she considers me her third.``New guy, huh?” she said with small interest. Arlene is currently dating Rene Lenier, and though I can’t see the attraction, she seems pretty satisfied. I think Rene was her second husband.``Oh, he’s a vampire,” I said, just having to share my delight with someone.``Really? Here? Well, just think,” she said, smiling a little to show she appreciated my pleasure. ``He can’t be too bright, though, honey, if he’s with the Rats. On the other hand, Denise is giving him quite a show.”I figured it out after Arlene made it plain to me; she’s much better at sizing up sexual situations than I am due to her experience and my lack.The vampire was hungry. I’d always heard that the synthetic blood the Japanese had developed kept vampires up to par as far as nutrition, but didn’t really satisfy their hunger, which was why there were ``Unfortunate Incidents” from time to time. (That was the vampire euphemism for the bloody slaying of a human.) And here was Denise Rattray, stroking her throat, turning her neck from side to side...what a bitch.My brother, Jason, came into the bar, then, and sauntered over to give me a hug. He knows that women like a man who’s good to his family and also kind to the disabled, so hugging me is a double whammy of recommendation. Not that Jason needs many more points than he has just by being himself. He’s handsome. He can sure be mean, too, but most women seem quite willing to overlook that.``Hey, sis, how’s Gran?”``She’s okay, about the same. Come by to see.”``I will. Who’s loose tonight?”``Look for yourself.” I noticed that when Jason began to glance around there was a flutter of female hands to hair, blouses, lips.``Hey. I see DeeAnne. She free?”``She’s here with a trucker from Hammond. He’s in the bathroom. Watch it.”Jason grinned at me, and I marvelled that other women could not see the selfishness of that smile. Even Arlene tucked in her T-shirt when Jason came in, and after four husbands she should have known a little about evaluating men. The other waitress I worked with, Dawn, tossed her hair and straightened her back to make her boobs stand out. Jason gave her an amiable wave. She pretended to sneer. She’s on the outs with Jason, but she still wants him to notice her.I got really busy—everyone came to Merlotte’s on Saturday night for some portion of the evening—so I lost track of my vampire for a while. When I next had a moment to check on him, he was talking to Denise. Mack was looking at him with an expression so avid that I became worried.I went closer to the table, staring at Mack. Finally, I let down my guard and listened.Mack and Denise had been in jail for vampire draining.Deeply upset, I nevertheless automatically carried a pitcher of beer and some glasses to a raucous table of four. Since vampire blood was supposed to temporarily relieve symptoms of illness and increase sexual potency, kind of like prednisone and Viagra rolled into one, there was a huge black market for genuine, undiluted vampire blood. Where there’s a market there are suppliers; in this case, I’d just learned, the scummy Rat Couple. They’d formerly trapped vampires and drained them, selling the little vials of blood for as much as $200 apiece. It had been the drug of choice for at least two years now. Some buyers went crazy after drinking pure vampire blood, but that didn’t slow the market any.The drained vampire didn’t last long, as a rule. The drainers left the vampires staked or simply dumped them out in the open. When the sun came up, that was all she wrote. From time to time, you read about the tables being turned when the vampire managed to get free. Then you got your dead drainers.Now my vampire was getting up and leaving with the Rats. Mack met my eyes, and I saw him looking distinctly startled at the expression on my face. He turned away, shrugging me off like everyone else.That made me mad. Really mad.What should I do? While I struggled with myself, they were out the door. Would the vampire believe me if I ran after them, told him? No one else did. Or if by chance they did, they hated and feared me for reading the thoughts concealed in people’s brains. Arlene had begged me to read her fourth husband’s mind when he’d come in to pick her up one night because she was pretty certain he was thinking of leaving her and the kids, but I wouldn’t because I wanted to keep the one friend I had. And even Arlene hadn’t been able to ask me directly because that would be admitting I had this gift, this curse. People couldn’t admit it. They had to think I was crazy. Which sometimes I almost was!So I dithered, confused and frightened and angry, and then I knew I just had to act. I was goaded by the look Mack had given me—as if I was negligible.I slid down the bar to Jason, where he was sweeping DeeAnne off her feet. She didn’t take much sweeping, popular opinion had it. The trucker from Hammond was glowering from her other side.``Jason,” I said urgently. He turned to give me a warning glare. ``Listen, is that chain still in the back of the pickup?”``Never leave home without it,” he said lazily, his eyes scanning my face for signs of trouble. ``You going to fight, Sookie?”I smiled at him, so used to grinning that it was easy. ``I sure hope not,” I said cheerfully.``Hey, you need help?” After all, he was my brother.``No, thanks,” I said, trying to sound reassuring. And I slipped over to Arlene. ``Listen, I got to leave a little early. My tables are pretty thin, can you cover for me?” I didn’t think I’d ever asked Arlene such a thing, though I’d covered for her many times. She, too, offered me help. ``That’s okay,” I said. ``I’ll be back in if I can. If you clean my area, I’ll do your trailer.”Arlene nodded her red mane enthusiastically.I pointed to the employee door, to myself, and made my fingers walk, to tell Sam where I was going.He nodded. He didn’t look happy.So out the back door I went, trying to make my feet quiet on the gravel. The employee parking lot is at the rear of the bar, through a door leading into the storeroom. The cook’s car was there, and Arlene’s, Dawn’s, and mine. To my right, the east, Sam’s pickup was sitting in front of his trailer.I went out of the graveled employee parking area onto the blacktop that surfaced the much larger customer lot to the west of the bar. Woods surrounded the clearing in which Merlotte’s stood, and the edges of the parking lot were mostly gravel. Sam kept it well lit, and the surrealistic glare of the high, parking lot lights made everything look strange.I saw the Rat Couple’s dented red sports car, so I knew they were close.I found Jason’s truck at last. It was black with custom aqua and pink swirls on the sides. He sure did love to be noticed. I pulled myself up by the tailgate and rummaged around in the bed for his chain, a thick length of links that he carried in case of a fight. I looped it and carried it pressed to my body so it wouldn’t chink.I thought a second. The only halfway private spot to which the Rattrays could have lured the vampire was the end of the parking lot where the trees actually overhung the cars. So I crept in that direction, trying to move fast and low.I paused every few seconds and listened. Soon I heard a groan and the faint sounds of voices. I snaked between the cars, and I spotted them right where I’d figured they’d be. The vampire was down on the ground on his back, his face contorted in agony, and the gleam of chains crisscrossed his wrists and ran down to his ankles. Silver. There were two little vials of blood already on the ground beside Denise’s feet, and as I watched, she fixed a new Vacutainer to the needle. The tourniquet above his elbow dug cruelly into his arm.Their backs were to me, and the vampire hadn’t seen me yet. I loosened the coiled chain so a good three feet of it swung free. Who to attack first? They were both small and vicious.I remembered Mack’s contemptuous dismissal and the fact that he never left me a tip. Mack first.I’d never actually been in a fight before. Somehow I was positively looking forward to it.I leapt out from behind a pickup and swung the chain. It thwacked across Mack’s back as he knelt beside his victim. He screamed and jumped up. After a glance, Denise set about getting the third Vacutainer plugged. Mack’s hand dipped down to his boot and came up shining. I gulped. He had a knife in his hand.``Uh-oh,” I said, and grinned at him.``You crazy bitch!” he screamed. He sounded like he was looking forward to using the knife. I was too involved to keep my mental guard up, and I had a clear flash of what Mack wanted to do to me. It drove me really crazy. I went for him with every intention of hurting him as badly as I could. But he was ready for me and jumped forward with the knife while I was swinging the chain. He sliced at my arm and just missed it. The chain, on its recoil, wrapped around his skinny neck like a lover. Mack’s yell of triumph turned into a gurgle. He dropped the knife and clawed at the links with both hands. Losing air, he dropped to his knees on the rough pavement, yanking the chain from my hand.Well, there went Jason’s chain. I swooped down and scooped up Mack’s knife, holding it like I knew how to use it. Denise had been lunging forward, looking like a redneck witch in the lines and shadows of the security lights.She stopped in her tracks when she saw I had Mack’s knife. She cursed and railed and said terrible things. I waited till she’d run down to say, ``Get. Out. Now.”Denise stared holes of hate in my head. She tried to scoop up the vials of blood, but I hissed at her to leave them alone. So she pulled Mack to his feet. He was still making choking, gurgling sounds and holding the chain. Denise kind of dragged him along to their car and shoved him in through the passenger’s side. Yanking some keys from her pocket, Denise threw herself in the driver’s seat.As I heard the engine roar into life, suddenly I realized that the Rats now had another weapon. Faster than I’ve ever moved, I ran to the vampire’s head and panted, ``Push with your feet!” I grabbed him under the arms and yanked back with all my might, and he caught on and braced his feet and shoved. We were just inside the tree line when the red car came roaring down at us. Denise missed us by less than a yard when she had to swerve to avoid hitting a pine. Then I heard the big motor of the Rats’ car receding in the distance.``Oh, wow,” I breathed, and knelt by the vampire because my knees wouldn’t hold me up any more. I breathed heavily for just a minute, trying to get hold of myself. The vampire moved a little, and I looked over. To my horror, I saw wisps of smoke coming up from his wrists where the silver touched them.``Oh, you poor thing,” I said, angry at myself for not caring for him instantly. Still trying to catch my breath, I began to unwind the thin bands of silver, which all seemed to be part of one very long chain. ``Poor baby,” I whispered, never thinking until later how incongruous that sounded. I have agile fingers, and I released his wrists pretty quickly. I wondered how the Rats had distracted him while they got into position to put them on, and I could feel myself reddening as I pictured it.The vampire cradled his arms to his chest while I worked on the silver wrapped around his legs. His ankles had fared better since the drainers hadn’t troubled to pull up his jeans legs and put the silver against his bare skin.``I’m sorry I didn’t get here faster,” I said apologetically. ``You’ll feel better in a minute, right? Do you want me to leave?”``No.”That made me feel pretty good until he added, ``They might come back, and I can’t fight yet.” His cool voice was uneven, but I couldn’t exactly say I’d heard him panting.I made a sour face at him, and while he was recovering, I took a few precautions. I sat with my back to him, giving him some privacy. I know how unpleasant it is to be stared at when you’re hurting. I hunkered down on the pavement, keeping watch on the parking lot. Several cars left, and others came in, but none came down to our end by the woods. By the movement of the air around me, I knew when the vampire had sat up.He didn’t speak right away. I turned my head to the left to look at him. He was closer than I’d thought. His big dark eyes looked into mine. His fangs had retracted; I was a little disappointed about that.``Thank you,” he said stiffly.So he wasn’t thrilled about being rescued by a woman. Typical guy.Since he was being so ungracious, I felt I could do something rude, too, and I listened to him, opening my mind completely.And I heard...nothing.``Oh,” I said, hearing the shock in my own voice, hardly knowing what I was saying. ``I can’t hear you.”``Thank you!” the vampire said, moving his lips exaggeratedly.``No, no...I can hear you speak, but...” and in my excitement, I did something I ordinarily would never do, because it was pushy, and personal, and revealed I was disabled. I turned fully to him and put my hands on both sides of his white face, and I looked at him intently. I focused with all my energy. Nothing. It was like having to listen to the radio all the time, to stations you didn’t get to select, and then suddenly tuning in to a wavelength you couldn’t receive.It was heaven.His eyes were getting wider and darker, though he was holding absolutely still.``Oh, excuse me,” I said with a gasp of embarrassment. I snatched my hands away and resumed staring at the parking lot. I began babbling about Mack and Denise, all the time thinking how marvelous it would be to have a companion I could not hear unless he chose to speak out loud. How beautiful his silence was.``...so I figured I better come out here to see how you were,” I concluded, and had no idea what I’d been saying.``You came out here to rescue me. It was brave,” he said in a voice so seductive it would have shivered DeeAnne right out of her red nylon panties.``Now you cut that out,” I said tartly, coming right down to earth with a thud.He looked astonished for a whole second before his face returned to its white smoothness.``Aren’t you afraid to be alone with a hungry vampire?” he asked, something arch and yet dangerous running beneath the words.``Nope.”``Are you assuming that since you came to my rescue that you’re safe, that I harbor an ounce of sentimental feeling after all these years? Vampires often turn on those who trust them. We don’t have human values, you know.”``A lot of humans turn on those who trust them,” I pointed out. I can be practical. ``I’m not a total fool.” I held out my arm and turned my neck. While he’d been recovering, I’d been wrapping the Rats’ chains around my neck and arms.He shivered visibly.``But there’s a juicy artery in your groin,” he said after a pause to regroup, his voice as slithery as a snake on a slide.``Don’t you talk dirty,” I told him. ``I won’t listen to that.”Once again we looked at each other in silence. I was afraid I’d never see him again; after all, his first visit to Merlotte’s hadn’t exactly been a success. So I was trying to absorb every detail I could; I would treasure this encounter and rehash it for a long, long time. It was rare, a prize. I wanted to touch his skin again. I couldn’t remember how it felt. But that would be going beyond some boundary of manners, and also maybe start him going on the seductive crap again.``Would you like to drink the blood they collected?” he asked unexpectedly. ``It would be a way for me to show my gratitude.” He gestured at the stoppered vials lying on the blacktop. ``My blood is supposed to improve your sex life and your health.”``I’m healthy as a horse,” I told him honestly. ``And I have no sex life to speak of. You do what you want with it.”``You could sell it,” he suggested, but I thought he was just waiting to see what I’d say about that.``I wouldn’t touch it,” I said, insulted.``You’re different,” he said. ``What are you?” He seemed to be going through a list of possibilities in his head from the way he was looking at me. To my pleasure, I could not hear a one of them.``Well. I’m Sookie Stackhouse, and I’m a waitress,” I told him. ``What’s your name?” I thought I could at least ask that without being presuming.``Bill,” he said.Before I could stop myself, I rocked back onto my butt with laughter. ``The vampire Bill!” I said. ``I thought it might be Antoine, or Basil, or Langford! Bill!” I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time. ``Well, see ya, Bill. I got to get back to work.” I could feel the tense grin snap back into place when I thought of Merlotte’s. I put my hand on Bill’s shoulder and pushed up. It was rock hard, and I was on my feet so fast I had to stop myself from stumbling. I examined my socks to make sure their cuffs were exactly even, and I looked up and down my outfit to check for wear and tear during the fight with the Rats. I dusted off my bottom since I’d been sitting on the dirty pavement and gave Bill a wave as I started off across the parking lot.It had been a stimulating evening, one with a lot of food for thought. I felt almost as cheerful as my smile when I considered it.But Jason was going to be mighty angry about the chain.After work that night, I drove home, which is only about four miles south from the bar. Jason had been gone (and so had DeeAnne) when I got back to work, and that had been another good thing. I was reviewing the evening as I drove to my grandmother’s house, where I lived. It’s right before Tall Pines cemetery, which lies off a narrow two-lane parish road. My great-great-great grandfather had started the house, and he’d had ideas about privacy, so to reach it you had to turn off the parish road into the driveway, go through some woods, and then you arrived at the clearing in which the house stood.It’s sure not any historic landmark, since most of the oldest parts have been ripped down and replaced over the years, and of course it’s got electricity and plumbing and insulation, all that good modern stuff. But it still has a tin roof that gleams blindingly on sunny days. When the roof needed to be replaced, I wanted to put regular roofing tiles on it, but my grandmother said no. Though I was paying, it’s her house; so naturally, tin it was.Historical or not, I’d lived in this house since I was about seven, and I’d visited it often before then, so I loved it. It was just a big old family home, too big for Granny and me, I guess. It had a broad front covered by a screened-in porch, and it was painted white, Granny being a traditionalist all the way. I went through the big living room, strewn with battered furniture arranged to suit us, and down the hall to the first bedroom on the left, the biggest.Adele Hale Stackhouse, my grandmother, was propped up in her high bed, about a million pillows padding her skinny shoulders. She was wearing a long-sleeved cotton nightgown even in the warmth of this spring night, and her bedside lamp was still on. There was a book propped in her lap.``Hey,” I said.``Hi, honey.”My grandmother is very small and very old, but her hair is still thick, and so white it almost has the very faintest of green tinges. She wears it kind of rolled against her neck during the day, but at night it’s loose or braided. I looked at the cover of her book.``You reading Danielle Steele again?”``Oh, that woman can sure tell a story.” My grandmother’s great pleasures were reading Danielle Steele, watching her soap operas (which she called her ``stories”) and attending meetings of the myriad clubs she’d belonged to all her adult life, it seemed. Her favorites were the Descendants of the Glorious Dead and the Bon Temps Gardening Society.``Guess what happened tonight?” I asked her.``What? You got a date?”``No,” I said, working to keep a smile on my face. ``A vampire came into the bar.”``Ooh, did he have fangs?”I’d seen them glisten in the parking lot lights when the Rats were draining him, but there was no need to describe that to Gran. ``Sure, but they were retracted.”``A vampire right here in Bon Temps.” Granny was as pleased as punch. ``Did he bite anybody in the bar?”``Oh, no, Gran! He just sat and had a glass of red wine. Well, he ordered it, but he didn’t drink it. I think he just wanted some company.”``Wonder where he stays.”``He wouldn’t be too likely to tell anyone that.”``No,” Gran said, thinking about it a moment. ``I guess not. Did you like him?”Now that was kind of a hard question. I mulled it over. ``I don’t know. He was real interesting,” I said cautiously.``I’d surely love to meet him.” I wasn’t surprised Gran said this because she enjoyed new things almost as much as I did. She wasn’t one of those reactionaries who’d decided vampires were damned right off the bat. ``But I better go to sleep now. I was just waiting for you to come home before I turned out my light.”I bent over to give Gran a kiss, and said, ``Night night.”I half-closed her door on my way out and heard the click of the lamp as she turned it off. My cat, Tina, came from wherever she’d been sleeping to rub against my legs, and I picked her up and cuddled her for a while before putting her out for the night. I glanced at the clock. It was almost two o’clock, and my bed was calling me.My room was right across the hall from Gran’s. When I first used this room, after my folks had died, Gran had moved my bedroom furniture from their house so I’d feel more homey. And here it was still, the single bed and vanity in white-painted wood, the small chest of drawers.I turned on my own light and shut the door and began taking off my clothes. I had at least five pair of black shorts and many, many white T-shirts, since those tended to get stained so easily. No telling how many pairs of white socks were rolled up in my drawer. So I didn’t have to do the wash tonight. I was too tired for a shower. I did brush my teeth and wash the makeup off my face, slap on some moisturizer, and take the band out of my hair.I crawled into bed in my favorite Mickey Mouse sleep T-shirt, which came almost to my knees. I turned on my side, like I always do, and I relished the silence of the room. Almost everyone’s brain is turned off in the wee hours of the night, and the vibrations are gone, the intrusions do not have to be repelled. With such peace, I only had time to think of the vampire’s dark eyes, and then I fell into the deep sleep of exhaustion.By lunchtime the next day I was in my folding aluminum chaise out in the front yard, getting browner by the second. I was in my favorite white strapless two-piece, and it was a little roomier than last summer, so I was pleased as punch.Then I heard a vehicle coming down the drive, and Jason’s black truck with its pink and aqua blazons pulled up to within a yard of my feet.Jason climbed down—did I mention the truck sports those high tires?—to stalk toward me. He was wearing his usual work clothes, a khaki shirt and pants, and he had his sheathed knife clipped to his belt, like most of the county road workers did. Just by the way he walked, I knew he was in a huff.I put my dark glasses on.``Why didn’t you tell me you beat up the Rattrays last night?” My brother threw himself into the aluminum yard chair by my chaise. ``Where’s Gran?” he asked belatedly.``Hanging out the laundry,” I said. Gran used the dryer in a pinch, but she really liked hanging the wet clothes out in the sun. Of course the clothesline was in the backyard, where clotheslines should be. ``She’s fixing country-fried steak and sweet potatoes and green beans she put up last year, for lunch,” I added, knowing that would distract Jason a little bit. I hoped Gran stayed out back. I didn’t want her to hear this conversation. ``Keep your voice low,” I reminded him.``Rene Lenier couldn’t wait till I got to work this morning to tell me all about it. He was over to the Rattrays’ trailer last night to buy him some weed, and Denise drove up like she wanted to kill someone. Rene said he liked to have gotten killed, she was so mad. It took both Rene and Denise to get Mack into the trailer, and then they took him to the hospital in Monroe.” Jason glared at me accusingly.``Did Rene tell you that Mack came after me with a knife?” I asked, deciding attacking was the best way of handling this. I could tell Jason’s pique was due in large part to the fact that he had heard about this from someone else.``If Denise told Rene, he didn’t mention it to me,” Jason said slowly, and I saw his handsome face darken with rage. ``He came after you with a knife?”``So I had to defend myself,” I said, as if it were matter-of-fact. ``And he took your chain.” This was all true, if a little skewed.``I came in to tell you,” I continued, ``but by the time I got back in the bar, you were gone with DeeAnne, and since I was fine, it just didn’t seem worth tracking you down. I knew you’d feel obliged to go after him if I told you about the knife,” I added diplomatically. There was a lot more truth in that, since Jason dearly loves a fight.``What the hell were you doing out there anyway?” he asked, but he had relaxed, and I knew he was accepting this.``Did you know that, in addition to selling drugs, the Rats are vampire drainers?”Now he was fascinated. ``No...so?”``Well, one of my customers last night was a vampire, and they were draining him out in Merlotte’s parking lot! I couldn’t have that.”``There’s a vampire here in Bon Temps?”``Yep. Even if you don’t want a vampire for your best friend, you can’t let trash like the Rats drain them. It’s not like siphoning gas out of a car. And they would have left him out in the woods to die.” Though the Rats hadn’t told me their intentions, that was my bet. Even if they’d put him under cover so he could survive the day, a drained vampire took at least twenty years to recover, at least that’s what one had said on Oprah. And that’s if another vampire took care of him.``The vampire was in the bar when I was there?” Jason asked, dazzled.``Uh-huh. The dark-haired guy sitting with the Rats.”Jason grinned at my epithet for the Rattrays. But he hadn’t let go of the night before, yet. ``How’d you know he was a vampire?” he asked, but when he looked at me, I could tell he was wishing he had bitten his tongue.``I just knew,” I said in my flattest voice.``Right.” And we shared a whole unspoken conversation.``Homulka doesn’t have a vampire,” Jason said thoughtfully. He tilted his face back to catch the sun, and I knew we were off dangerous ground.``True,” I agreed. Homulka was the town Bon Temps loved to hate. We’d been rivals in football, basketball, and historical significance for generations.``Neither does Roedale,” Gran said from behind us, and Jason and I both jumped. I give Jason credit, he jumps up and gives Gran a hug everytime he sees her.``Gran, you got enough food in the oven for me?”``You and two others,” Gran said. Our grandmother smiled up at Jason. She was not blind to his faults (or mine), but she loved him. ``I just got a phone call from Everlee Mason. She was telling me you hooked up with DeeAnne last night.”``Boy oh boy, can’t do anything in this town without getting caught,” Jason said, but he wasn’t really angry.``That DeeAnne,” Gran said warningly as we all started into the house, ``she’s been pregnant one time I know of. You just take care she doesn’t have one of yours, you’ll be paying the rest of your life. Course, that may be the only way I get great-grandchildren!”Gran had the food ready on the table, so after Jason hung up his hat we sat down and said grace. Then Gran and Jason began gossiping with each other (though they called it ``catching up”) about people in our little town and parish. My brother worked for the state, supervising road crews. It seemed to me like Jason’s day consisted of driving around in a state pickup, clocking off work, and then driving around all night in his own pickup. Rene was on one of the work crews Jason oversaw, and they’d been to high school together. They hung around with Hoyt Fortenberry a lot.``Sookie, I had to replace the hot water heater in the house,” Jason said suddenly. He lives in my parents’ old house, the one we’d been living in when they died in a flash flood. We lived with Gran after that, but when Jason got through his two years of college and went to work for the state, he moved back into the house, which on paper is half mine.``You need any money on that?” I asked.``Naw, I got it.”We both make salaries, but we also have a little income from a fund established when an oil well was sunk on my parents’ property. It played out in a few years, but my parents and then Gran made sure the money was invested. It saved Jason and me a lot of struggle, that padding. I don’t know how Gran could have raised us if it hadn’t been for that money. She was determined not to sell any land, but her own income is not much more than social security. That’s one reason I don’t get an apartment. If I get groceries when I’m living with her, that’s reasonable, to her; but if I buy groceries and bring them to her house and leave them on her table and go home to my house, that’s charity and that makes her mad.``What kind did you get?” I asked, just to show interest.He was dying to tell me; Jason’s an appliance freak, and he wanted to describe his comparison shopping for a new water heater in detail. I listened with as much attention as I could muster.And then he interrupted himself. ``Hey Sook, you remember Maudette Pickens?”``Sure,” I said, surprised. ``We graduated in the same class.”``Somebody killed Maudette in her apartment last night.”Gran and I were riveted. ``When?” Grand asked, puzzled that she hadn’t heard already.``They just found her this very morning in her bedroom. Her boss tried to call her to find out why she hadn’t shown up for work yesterday and today and got no answer, so he rode over and got the manager up, and they unlocked the place. You know she had the apartment across from DeeAnne’s?” Bon Temps had only one bona fide apartment complex, a three-building, two-story U-shaped grouping, so we knew exactly where he meant.``She got killed there?” I felt ill. I remembered Maudette clearly. Maudette had had a heavy jaw and a square bottom, pretty black hair and husky shoulders. Maudette had been a plodder, never bright or ambitious. I thought I recalled her working at the Grabbit Kwik, a gas station/convenience store.``Yeah, she’d been working there for at least a year, I guess,” Jason confirmed.``How was it done?” My grandmother had that squnched, give-it-to-me-quick look with which nice people ask for bad news.``She had some vampire bites on her—uh—inner thighs,” my brother said, looking down at his plate. ``But that wasn’t what killed her. She was strangled. DeeAnne told me Maudette liked to go to that vampire bar in Shreveport when she had a couple of days off, so maybe that’s where she got the bites. Might not have been Sookie’s vampire.”``Maudette was a fang-banger?” I felt queasy, imagining slow, chunky Maudette draped in the exotic black dresses fang-bangers affected.``What’s that?” asked Gran. She must have missed Sally the day the phenomenon was explored.``Men and women that hang around with vampires and enjoy being bitten. Vampire groupies. They don’t last too long, I think, because they want to be bitten too much, and sooner or later they get that one bite too many.”``But a bite didn’t kill Maudette.” Gran wanted to be sure she had it straight.``Nope, strangling.” Jason had begun finishing his lunch.``Don’t you always get gas at the Grabbit?” I asked.``Sure. So do a lot of people.”``And didn’t you hang around with Maudette some?” Gran asked.``Well, in a way of speaking,” Jason said cautiously.I took that to mean he’d bedded Maudette when he couldn’t find anyone else.``I hope the sheriff doesn’t want to talk to you,” Gran said, shaking her head as if indicating ``no” would make it less likely.``What?” Jason was turning red, looking defensive.``You see Maudette in the store all the time when you get your gas, you so-to-speak date her, then she winds up dead in an apartment you’re familiar with,” I summarized. It wasn’t much, but it was something, and there were so few mysterious homicides in Bon Temps that I thought every stone would be turned in its investigation.``I ain’t the only one who fills the bill. Plenty of other guys get their gas there, and all of them know Maudette.”``Yeah, but in what sense?” Gran asked bluntly. ``She wasn’t a prostitute, was she? So she will have talked about who she saw.”``She just liked to have a good time, she wasn’t a pro.” It was good of Jason to defend Maudette, considering what I knew of his selfish character. I began to think a little better of my big brother. ``She was kinda lonely, I guess,” he added.Jason looked at both of us, then, and saw we were surprised and touched.``Speaking of prostitutes,” he said hastily, ``there’s one in Monroe specializes in vampires. She keeps a guy standing by with a stake in case one gets carried away. She drinks synthetic blood to keep her blood supply up.”That was a pretty definite change of subject, so Gran and I tried to think of a question we could ask without being indecent.``Wonder how much she charges?” I ventured, and when Jason told us the figure he’d heard, we both gasped.Once we got off the topic of Maudette’s murder, lunch went about as usual, with Jason looking at his watch and exclaiming that he had to leave just when it was time to do the dishes.But Gran’s mind was still running on vampires, I found out. She came into my room later, when I was putting on my makeup to go to work.``How old you reckon the vampire is, the one you met?”``I have no idea, Gran.” I was putting on my mascara, looking wide-eyed and trying to hold still so I wouldn’t poke myself in the eye, so my voice came out funny, as if I was trying out for a horror movie.``Do you suppose...he might remember the War?”I didn’t need to ask which war. After all, Gran was a charter member of the Descendants of the Glorious Dead.``Could be,” I said, turning my face from side to side to make sure my blush was even.``You think he might come to talk to us about it? We could have a special meeting.”``At night,” I reminded her.``Oh. Yes, it’d have to be.” The Descendants usually met at noon at the library and brought a bag lunch.I thought about it. It would be plain rude to suggest to the vampire that he ought to speak to Gran’s club because I’d saved his blood from Drainers, but maybe he would offer if I gave a little hint? I didn’t like to, but I’d do it for Gran. ``I’ll ask him the next time he comes in,” I promised.``At least he could come talk to me and maybe I could tape his recollections?” Gran said. I could hear her mind clicking as she thought of what a coup that would be for her. ``It would be so interesting to the other club members,” she said piously.I stifled an impulse to laugh. ``I’ll suggest it to him,” I said. ``We’ll see.”When I left, Gran was clearly counting her chickens.I hadn’t thought of Rene Lenier going to Sam with the story of the parking lot fight. Rene’d been a busy bee, though. When I got to work that afternoon, I assumed the agitation I felt in the air was due to Maudette’s murder. I found out different.Sam hustled me into the storeroom the minute I came in. He was hopping with anger. He reamed me up one side and down the other.Sam had never been mad with me before, and soon I was on the edge of tears.``And if you think a customer isn’t safe, you tell me, and I’ll deal with it, not you,” he was saying for the sixth time, when I finally realized that Sam had been scared for me.I caught that rolling off him before I clamped down firmly on ``hearing” Sam. Listening in to your boss led to disaster.It had never occurred to me to ask Sam—or anyone else—for help.``And if you think someone is being harmed in our parking lot, your next move is to call the police, not step out there yourself like a vigilante,” Sam huffed. His fair complection, always ruddy, was redder than ever, and his wiry golden hair looked as if he hadn’t combed it.``Okay,” I said, trying to keep my voice even and my eyes wide open so the tears wouldn’t roll out. ``Are you gonna fire me?”``No! No!” he exclaimed, apparently even angrier. ``I don’t want to lose you!” He gripped my shoulders and gave me a little shake. Then he stood looking at me with wide, crackling blue eyes, and I felt a surge of heat rushing out from him. Touching accelerates my disability, makes it imperative that I hear the person touching. I stared right into his eyes for a long moment, then I remembered myself, and I jumped back as his hands dropped away.I whirled and left the storeroom, spooked.I’d learned a couple of disconcerting things. Sam desired me; and I couldn’t hear his thoughts as clearly as I could other people’s. I’d had waves of impressions of how he was feeling, but not thoughts. More like wearing a mood ring than getting a fax.So, what did I do about either piece of information?Absolutely nothing.I’d never looked on Sam as a beddable man before—or at least not beddable by me—for a lot of reasons. But the simplest one was that I never looked at anyone that way, not because I don’t have hormones—boy, do I have hormones—but they are constantly tamped down because sex, for me, is a disaster. Can you imagine knowing everything your sex partner is thinking? Right. Along the order of ``Gosh, look at that mole...her butt is a little big...wish she’d move to the right a little...why doesn’t she take the hint and...?” You get the idea. It’s chilling to the emotions, believe me. And during sex, there is simply no way to keep a mental guard up.Another reason is that I like Sam for a boss, and I like my job, which gets me out and keeps me active and earning so I won’t turn into the recluse my grandmother fears I’ll become. Working in an office is hard for me, and college was simply impossible because of the grim concentration necessary. It just drained me.So, right now, I wanted to mull over the rush of desire I’d felt from him. It wasn’t like he’d made me a verbal proposition or thrown me down on the storeroom floor. I’d felt his feelings, and I could ignore them if I chose. I appreciated the delicacy of this, and wondered if Sam had touched me on purpose, if he actually knew what I was.I took care not be alone with him, but I have to admit I was pretty shaken that night.The next two nights were better. We fell back into our comfortable relationship. I was relieved. I was disappointed. I was also run off my feet since Maudette’s murder sparked a business boom at Merlotte’s. All sorts of rumors were buzzing around Bon Temps, and the Shreveport news team did a little piece on Maudette Picken’s grisly death. Though I didn’t attend her funeral, my grandmother did, and she said the church was jam-packed. Poor lumpy Maudette, with her bitten thighs, was more interesting in death than she’d ever been in life.I was about to have two days off, and I was worried I’d miss connecting with the vampire, Bill. I needed to relay my grandmother’s request. He hadn’t returned to the bar, and I began to wonder if he would.Mack and Denise hadn’t been back in Merlotte’s either, but Rene Lenier and Hoyt Fortenberry made sure I knew they’d threatened me with horrible things. I can’t say I was seriously alarmed. Criminal trash like the Rats roamed the highways and trailer parks of America, not smart enough or moral enough to settle down to productive living. They never made a positive mark on the world, or amounted to a hill of beans, to my way of thinking. I shrugged off Rene’s warnings.But he sure enjoyed relaying them. Rene Lenier was small like Sam, but where Sam was ruddy and blond, Rene was swarthy and had a bushy headful of rough, black hair threaded with gray. Rene often came by the bar to drink a beer and visit with Arlene because (as he was fond of telling anyone in the bar) she was his favorite ex-wife. He had three. Hoyt Fortenberry was more of a cipher than Rene. He was neither dark nor fair, neither big nor little. He always seemed cheerful and always tipped decent. He admired my brother Jason far beyond what Jason deserved, in my opinion.I was glad Rene and Hoyt weren’t there the night the vampire returned.He sat at the same table.Now that the vampire was actually in front of me, I felt a little shy. I found I’d forgotten the almost imperceptible glow of his skin. I’d exaggerated his height and the clear-cut lines of his mouth.``What can I get you?” I asked.He looked up at me. I had forgotten, too, the depth of his eyes. He didn’t smile or blink; he was so immobile. For the second time, I relaxed into his silence. When I let down my guard, I could feel my face relax. It was as good as getting a massage (I am guessing).``What are you?” he asked me. It was the second time he’d wanted to know.``I’m a waitress,” I said, again deliberately misunderstanding him. I could feel my smile snap back into place again. My little bit of peace vanished.``Red wine,” he ordered, and if he was disappointed I couldn’t tell by his voice.``Sure,” I said. ``The synthetic blood should come in on the truck tomorrow. Listen, could I talk to you after work? I have a favor to ask you.”``Of course. I’m in your debt.” And he sure didn’t sound happy about it.``Not a favor for me!” I was getting miffed myself. ``For my grandmother. If you’ll be up—well, I guess you will be—when I get off work at one-thirty, would you very much mind meeting me at the employee door at the back of the bar?” I nodded toward it, and my ponytail bounced around my shoulders. His eyes followed the movement of my hair.``I’d be delighted.”I didn’t know if he was displaying the courtesy Gran insisted was the standard in bygone times, or if he was plain old mocking me.I resisted the temptation to stick out my tongue at him or blow a raspberry. I spun on my heel and marched back to the bar. When I brought him his wine, he tipped me 20 percent. Soon after that, I looked over at his table only to realize he’d vanished. I wondered if he’d keep his word.Arlene and Dawn left before I was ready to go, for one reason and another; mostly because all the napkin holders in my area proved to be half-empty. As I retrieved my purse from the locked cabinet in Sam’s office, where I stow it while I work, I called good-bye to my boss. I could hear him clanking around in the men’s room, probably trying to fix the leaky toilet. I stepped into the ladies’ room for a second to check my hair and makeup.When I stepped outside I noticed that Sam had already switched off the customer parking lot lights. Only the security light on the electricity pole in front of his trailer illuminated the employee parking lot. To the amusement of Arlene and Dawn, Sam had put in a yard and planted boxwood in front of his trailer, and they were constantly teasing him about the neat line of his hedge.I thought it was pretty.As usual, Sam’s truck was parked in front of his trailer, so my car was the only one left in the lot.I stretched, looking from side to side. No Bill. I was surprised at how disappointed I was. I had really expected him to be courteous, even if his heart (did he have one?) wasn’t in it.Maybe, I thought with a smile, he’d jump out of a tree, or appear with a poof! in front of me draped in a red-lined black cape. But nothing happened. So I trudged over to my car.I’d hoped for a surprise, but not the one I got.Mack Rattray jumped out from behind my car and in one stride got close enough to clip me in the jaw. He didn’t hold back one little bit, and I went down onto the gravel like a sack of cement. I let out a yell when I went down, but the ground knocked all the air out of me and some skin off of me, and I was silent and breathless and helpless. Then I saw Denise, saw her swing back her heavy boot, had just enough warning to roll into a ball before the Rattrays began kicking me.The pain was immediate, intense, and unrelenting. I threw my arms over my face instinctively, taking the beating on my forearms, legs, and my back.I think I was sure, during the first few blows, that they’d stop and hiss warnings and curses at me and leave. But I remember the exact moment I realized that they intended to kill me.I could lie there passively and take a beating, but I would not lie there and be killed.The next time a leg came close I lunged and grabbed it and held on for my life. I was trying to bite, trying to at least mark one of them. I wasn’t even sure whose leg I had.Then, from behind me, I heard a growl. Oh, no, they’ve brought a dog, I thought. The growl was definitely hostile. If I’d had any leeway with my emotions, the hair would have stood up on my scalp.I took one more kick to the spine, and then the beating stopped.The last kick had done something dreadful to me. I could hear my own breathing, stertorous, and a strange bubbling sound that seemed to be coming from my own lungs.``What the hell is that?” Mack Rattray asked, and he sounded absolutely terrified.I heard the growl again, closer, right behind me. And from another direction, I heard a sort of snarl. Denise began wailing, Mack was cursing. Denise yanked her leg from my grasp, which had grown very weak. My arms flopped to the ground. They seemed to be beyond my control. Though my vision was cloudy, I could see that my right arm was broken. My face felt wet. I was scared to continue evaluating my injuries.Mack began screaming, and then Denise, and there seemed to be all kinds of activity going on around me, but I couldn’t move. My only view was my broken arm and my battered knees and the darkness under my car.Some time later there was silence. Behind me, the dog whined. A cold nose poked my ear, and a warm tongue licked it. I tried to raise my hand to pet the dog that had undoubtedly saved my life, but I couldn’t. I could hear myself sigh. It seemed to come from a long way away.Facing the fact, I said, ``I’m dying.” It began to seem more and more real to me. The toads and crickets that had been making the most of the night had fallen silent at all the activity and noise in the parking lot, so my little voice came out clearly and fell into the darkness. Oddly enough, soon after that I heard two voices.Then a pair of knees covered in bloody blue jeans came into my view. The vampire Bill leaned over so I could look into his face. There was blood smeared on his mouth, and his fangs were out, glistening white against his lower lip. I tried to smile at him, but my face wasn’t working right.``I’m going to pick you up,” Bill said. He sounded calm.``I’ll die if you do,” I whispered.He looked me over carefully. ``Not just yet,” he said, after this evaluation. Oddly enough, this made me feel better; no telling how many injuries he’d seen in his lifetime, I figured.``This will hurt,” he warned me.It was hard to imagine anything that wouldn’t.His arms slid under me before I had time to get afraid. I screamed, but it was a weak effort.``Quick,” said a voice urgently.``We’re going back in the woods out of sight,” Bill said, cradling my body to him as if it weighed nothing.Was he going to bury me back there, out of sight? After he’d just rescued me from the Rats? I almost didn’t care.It was only a small relief when he laid me down on a carpet of pine needles in the darkness of the woods. In the distance, I could see the glow of the light in the parking lot. I felt my hair trickling blood, and I felt the pain of my broken arm and the agony of deep bruises, but what was most frightening was what I didn’t feel.I didn’t feel my legs.My abdomen felt full, heavy. The phrase ``internal bleeding” lodged in my thoughts, such as they were.``You will die unless you do as I say,” Bill told me.``Sorry, don’t want to be a vampire,” I said, and my voice was weak and thready.``No, you won’t be,” he said more gently. ``You’ll heal. Quickly. I have a cure. But you have to be willing.”``Then trot out the cure,” I whispered. ``I’m going.” I could feel the pull the grayness was exerting on me.In the little part of my mind that was still receiving signals from the world, I heard Bill grunt as if he’d been hurt. Then something was pressed up against my mouth.``Drink,” he said.I tried to stick out my tongue, managed. He was bleeding, squeezing to encourage the flow of blood from his wrist into my mouth. I gagged. But I wanted to live. I forced myself to swallow. And swallow again.Suddenly the blood tasted good, salty, the stuff of life. My unbroken arm rose, my hand clamped the vampire’s wrist to my mouth. I felt better with every swallow. And after a minute, I drifted off to sleep.When I woke up, I was still in the woods, still lying on the ground. Someone was stretched out beside me; it was the vampire. I could see his glow. I could feel his tongue moving on my head. He was licking my head wound. I could hardly begrudge him.``Do I taste different from other people?” I asked.``Yes,” he said in a thick voice. ``What are you?”It was the third time he’d asked. Third time’s the charm, Gran always said.``Hey, I’m not dead,” I said. I suddenly remembered I’d expected to check out for good. I wiggled my arm, the one that had been broken. It was weak, but it wasn’t flopping any longer. I could feel my legs, and I wiggled them, too. I breathed in and out experimentally and was pleased with the resulting mild ache. I struggled to sit up. That proved to be quite an effort, but not an impossibility. It was like my first fever-free day after I’d had pneumonia as a kid. Feeble but blissful. I was aware I’d survived something awful.Before I finished straightening, he’d put his arms under me and cradled me to him. He leaned back against a tree. I felt very comfortable sitting on his lap, my head against his chest.``What I am, is telepathic,” I said. ``I can hear people’s thoughts.”``Even mine?” He sounded merely curious.``No. That’s why I like you so much,” I said, floating on a sea of pinkish well-being. I couldn’t seem to be bothered with camouflaging my thoughts.I felt his chest rumble as he laughed. The laugh was a little rusty.``I can’t hear you at all,” I blathered on, my voice dreamy. ``You have no idea how peaceful that is. After a lifetime of blah, blah, blah, to hear...nothing.”``How do you manage going out with men? With men your age, their only thought is still surely how to get you into bed.”``Well, I don’t. Manage. And frankly, at any age, I think their goal is get a woman in bed. I don’t date. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, you know, because I can’t tell them the truth; which is, that I’m driven crazy by all these thoughts, all these heads. I had a few dates when I started working at the bar, guys who hadn’t heard about me. But it was the same as always. You can’t concentrate on being comfortable with a guy, or getting a head of steam up, when you can hear they’re wondering if you dye your hair, or thinking that your butt’s not pretty, or imagining what your boobs look like.”Suddenly I felt more alert, and I realized how much of myself I was revealing to this creature.``Excuse me,” I said. ``I didn’t mean to burden you with my problems. Thank you for saving me from the Rats.”``It was my fault they had a chance to get you at all,” he said. I could tell there was rage just under the calm surface of his voice. ``If I had had the courtesy to be on time, it would not have happened. So I owed you some of my blood. I owed you the healing.”``Are they dead?” To my embarrassment, my voice sounded squeaky.``Oh, yes.”I gulped. I couldn’t regret that the world was rid of the Rats. But I had to look this straight in the face, I couldn’t dodge the realization that I was sitting in the lap of a murderer. Yet I was quite happy to sit there, his arms around me.``I should worry about this, but I’m not,” I said, before I knew what I was going to say. I felt that rusty laugh again.``Sookie, why did you want to talk to me tonight?”I had to think back hard. Though I was miraculously recovered from the beating physically, I felt a little hazy mentally.``My grandmother is real anxious to know how old you are,” I said hesitantly. I didn’t know how personal a question that was to a vampire. The vampire in question was stroking my back as though he were soothing a kitten.``I was made vampire in 1870, when I was thirty human years old.” I looked up; his glowing face was expressionless, his eyes pits of blackness in the dark woods.``Did you fight in the War?”``Yes.”``I have the feeling you’re gonna get mad. But it would make her and her club so happy if you’d tell them a little bit about the War, about what it was really like.”``Club?”``She belongs to Descendants of the Glorious Dead.”``Glorious dead.” The vampire’s voice was unreadable, but I could tell, sure enough, he wasn’t happy.``Listen, you wouldn’t have to tell them about the maggots and the infections and the starvation,” I said. ``They have their own picture of the War, and though they’re not stupid people—they’ve lived through other wars—they would like to know more about the way people lived then, and uniforms and troop movements.”``Clean things.”I took a deep breath. ``Yep.”``Would it make you happy if I did this?”``What difference does that make? It would make Gran happy, and since you’re in Bon Temps and seem to want to live around here, it would be a good public relations move for you.”``Would it make you happy?”He was not a guy you could evade. ``Well, yes.”``Then I’ll do it.”``Gran says to please eat before you come,” I said.Again I heard the rumbling laugh, deeper this time.``I’m looking forward to meeting her now. Can I call on you some night?”``Ah. Sure. I work my last night tomorrow night, and the day after I’m off for two days, so Thursday would be a good night.” I lifted my arm to look at my watch. It was running, but the glass was covered with dried blood. ``Oh, yuck,” I said, wetting my finger in my mouth and cleaning the watch face off with spit. I pressed the button that illuminated the hands, and gasped when I saw what time it was.``Oh, gosh, I got to get home. I hope Gran went to sleep.”``She must worry about you being out so late at night by yourself,” Bill observed. He sounded disapproving. Maybe he was thinking of Maudette? I had a moment of deep unease, wondering if in fact Bill had known her, if she’d invited him to come home with her. But I rejected the idea because I was stubbornly unwilling to dwell on the odd, awful, nature of Maudette’s life and death; I didn’t want that horror to cast a shadow on my little bit of happiness.``It’s part of my job,” I said tartly. ``Can’t be helped. I don’t work nights all the time, anyway. But when I can, I do.”``Why?” The vampire gave me a shove up to my feet, and then he rose easily from the ground.``Better tips. Harder work. No time to think.”``But night is more dangerous,” he said disapprovingly.He ought to know. ``Now don’t you go sounding like my grandmother,” I chided him mildly. We had almost reached the parking lot.``I’m older than your grandmother,” he reminded me. That brought the conversation up short.After I stepped out of the woods, I stood staring. The parking lot was as serene and untouched as if nothing had ever happened there, as if I hadn’t been nearly beaten to death on that patch of gravel only an hour before, as if the Rats hadn’t met their bloody end.The lights in the bar and in Sam’s trailer were off.The gravel was wet, but not bloody.My purse was sitting on the hood of my car.``And what about the dog?” I said.I turned to look at my savior.He wasn’t there.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels“It’s the kind of book you look forward to reading before you go to bed, thinking you’re only going to read one chapter, and then you end up reading seven.”—Alan Ball, executive producer of True Blood“Vivid, subtle, and funny in her portrayal of southern life.”—Entertainment Weekly“Charlaine Harris has vividly imagined telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse and her small-town Louisiana milieu, where humans, vampires, shapeshifters, and other sentient critters live...Her mash-up of genres is delightful, taking elements from mysteries, horror stories, and romances.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel“The series continues to be inventive and funny with an engaging, smart, and sexy heroine.”—The Denver Post“Blending action, romance, and comedy, Harris has created a fully functioning world so very close to our own, except, of course, for the vamps and other supernatural creatures.”—The Toronto Star