These novels are best known to fans of the TV show ‘True Blood’ starring Anna Paquin and the simply delectable Alexander Skarsgård. I in fact started reading them because the show had just finished its first season and I was intrigued by this world of Vampires who have ‘come out of the coffin’.
What is first to be understood is that there are now twelve Southern Vampire Mysteries books, of which I have read eleven, so this is not an analysis of an individual novel but of the series as a whole in terms of characterisation and such.
Sookie Stackhouse is our protagonist, and she begins the novels as a virginal 25 year old waitress who can hear the thoughts of others around her. Its not that Sookie is some prude or a deeply religious woman, she is thought of as a weirdo by the majority of the general population of her hometown, Bons Temps in Louisiana, and the only men who have taken her out are so abhorrent that she cannot block their thoughts from her mind.
The Vampires had just come out as exisiting because the Japanese have invented synthetic blood, which means the Vamps can now come out and play with no danger presented to the humans *cough*all lies*cough*.
Bill Compton, one such Vampire, comes back to Bons Temps to reclaim his family home, just across the graveyeard from Sookie.
After a couple of life or death situations for both the Vamp and the waitress, where she discovers she cannot ‘hear’ Vampire minds, the two soon become a couple and Sookie is a virgin no more. In fact, over the series of books she more than makes up for any perceived lost time.
The books are utterly different to the TV show, for example characters killed off within a few chapters of the first novel are still in the fourth season of the show. I do admire the show for taking such different directions and condensing the world down enough for the small screen, however I much prefer the characters and the storylines in the books.
Sookie is feisty and girly all at the same time. Though she comes across as tough and able to look after herself, especially after the countless deaths that have occured around her since the Vampires came out, Sookie would benefit from having someone permanent in her life who won’t screw her over.
Of the Vampires in these novels I tired easily of Bill, it is Eric Northman who holds all the attention when he is on a page. A stunning, tall, Nordic man they genuinely could not have cast this character better on the TV show. Though he does not get as much Sookie action as the book version, Alexander Skarsgård epitomises this thousand year old Viking. This is likely one of the main reasons I prefer the book, because the relationship between Sookie and Eric has more time to develop, and yeah okay there are a fair few naughty scenes but its not pornographic…ok it might be but to be honest its fairly well written.
Another favourite Vamp is Pam, Eric’s ‘daughter’ who helps him run a bar in the neighbouring town of Shreveport. She is sassy, doesn’t give a rats ass about any humans or Vampires except Eric and Sookie, but is beginning to show a softer side the further the books get.
Now there couldn’t just be twelve books about Vamps and humans, that would be too boring. Instead we have fairies, shapeshifters, were-animals, demons, gods, witches, and lord knows what else is going to come along. However this isn’t just a mish mash of whatever supernatural being has ever been thought up, there is genuine direction to these stories and the addition of each element helps to further on Sookie’s own understanding of herself, her abilities, and the world around her.
The writing is in no way the best on the planet, however it does not have the strained structure of a Twilight novel or the stigma of the 50 Shades trilogy. Conventions are kept to which in the supernatural world are very important. One of the biggest mistakes Stephanie Meyer made was to make her Vampires able to come out in the daylight – oh but it had to be foggy cos you know, diamond skin.
Harris’s Vamps stay ‘dead until dark’, drink human blood wherever possible, and play up to all the right stereotypes in order to stay alive.
These are what I call great holiday reads. A bit trashy but there is a storyline running through that gets you interested. They can also be incredibly violent as people are murdered, fairies are disintegrated with lemon juice, and anyone can be tortured. Graphic imagery might put off the more squeamish, but I guarantee if you like your Vamps staked through the heart and werewolves turning at the full moon you will most likely enjoy these novels.
Don’t expect Anne Rice, but equally don’t expect them to be as teen suitable as The Vampire Diaries or Twilight.