Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse: Five Years of Memories

My first foray into the urban fantasy genre featuring vampires was Anne Rice with Lestat and Interview with a Vampire. Then it was the Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. Then I met Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, wizard extraordinaire, who knocked my socks off. It was still in the early years, when vampire and werewolf fiction was really beginning to take off. I cannot remember how I came to read the Southern Vampire series. Most likely someone mentioned it in one of my books groups. However it happened, from book one, I was hooked.

I nearly did not sign up for the Sookie Stackhouse Challenge. I only had one book left in the series to read at the beginning of the challenge. Our gracious hostess, Beth, welcomed me in spite of that, saying that everyone was welcome no matter where the participant was in the series. At her encouragement, I am taking a trip down memory lane, revisiting the many adventures I have been on with Sookie Stackhouse over the last five years.

I began reading the series long before I started blogging. As a result, there are no links for old reviews to send you to. However, wouldn't you know it, this month five years ago, I read my very first Sookie Stackhouse book. I had begun keeping a reading journal in late 2003, and so happen to have a record of my thoughts on all the Sookie books I read before blogging. I have read all the published short stories as well, but, alas, no reviews. The best I can do is open up my reading journal for you and give you a glimpse at the trouble Sookie and I have gotten into over the years through Charlaine Harris' full-length novels.

Keep in mind if you continue on and read my "reviews" of the first six books in the series, these were never meant for the public's eyes. They are rough and often very brief. Another word of warning: there may be spoilers as each book piggy backs on the next. I tried to keep the majority of the spoilers out, and so there are no major plot points revealed. Regardless, read at your own risk.

Dead Until Dark (2001)
Harris, Charlaine (fantasy) (260 pgs)
Completed: 07/08/2004

Dead Until Dark is the first book in the Southern Vampire series. While compared to Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series quite often, the books do indeed have similarities and yet are very different. In Dead Until Dark, the reader is introduced to Sookie Stackhouse, a small town cocktail waitress who has the uncanny gift to read minds. She’s always longed to meet someone whose mind was closed to her, and when suddenly a vampire walks into the bar, her dream comes true. However, with the brutal murders of several women who were known to have relationships with vampires, suddenly Sookie finds her new vampire friend, Bill, and her own brother at the top of the suspect list. She strikes out on her own to clear both their names only to learn the hard way that she is a target for the killer as well. Unlike the darker and more violent Laurell K. Hamilton books, in the Southern Vampire series, Charlaine Harris paints her story with much softer strokes. The mystery and tension, with a twist of romance, is still there, however, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book. I admit to being a little put off by Sookie at first, worried that she would be a little too bubbly, however that did not last long. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Living in Dead in Dallas (2002)
Harris, Charlaine (Fantasy) (262 pgs)
Completed: 12/26/2004

When a friend and coworker is murdered, mind reader and waitress Sookie Stackhouse sets out to uncover who could have committed the crime. However, almost immediately after the murder, she is pulled away from home and sent to Dallas to help in the investigation of the disappearance of a vampire. It proves to be a dangerous undertaking, which could very well end in Sookie’s death.

Although I did not find myself mesmerized with this book as I was with the first in the series, I did enjoy it. Sookie is a smart and yet sweet heroine who is hard not to like. This was a fun, light and entertaining read.

Club Dead (2003)
Harris, Charlaine (Fantasy) (258 pgs)
Completed: 01/02/2005 (12:55 a.m.)

It is always fun to spend time with Sookie Stackhouse and this time was no different. Thanks to her involvement with the vampire Bill, she often finds herself in danger way over her head. When Bill disappears under suspicious circumstances, and rumors of his being unfaithful abound, Sookie agrees to help find him and bring him home. She teams up with a werewolf and hobnobs with the king vampire of Mississippi in order to learn where Bill is being hidden. Ever the endearing woman, who just happens to have the gift of telepathy, Sookie shows grit in this novel, taking on an ex-girlfriend, weres, ill intended-humans and vampires. She is not so innocent anymore.

Dead to the World (2004)
Harris, Charlaine (Fantasy) (291 pgs)
Completed: 12/24/2005 (1:30 a.m.)

On her way home from work, waitress and telepath, Sookie Stackhouse, finds the sheriff of the local vampires running barefoot down the road with no memory of who he is; an evil coven of witches appears to have moved into the area and wants to take over; and her brother has gone missing. Sookie finds herself embroiled in the middle of a battle between Weres, witches and vampires. Sookie is her usual likeable self in the fourth novel of the Southern Vampire series: witty, charming and genuinely good-hearted. Dead to the World was suspenseful, sexy and funny. I enjoyed the book immensely and cannot wait to dive into Dead as a Doornail.

Dead as a Doornail (2005)
Harris, Charlaine (Fantasy) (295 pgs)
Completed: 12/25/2005 (4:56 p.m.)

Ever since Bill the vampire appeared in her life, Sookie Stackhouse finds herself in the middle of trouble regularly. Between the upcoming contest for a new pack leader for the local werewolves, someone killing shapeshifters, suspicion falling on her brother, and an attempt on her own life, Sookie has her share of problems in Dead as a Doornail. This particular novel was not quite as focused as the previous novels, multiple story lines vying for center stage. Even so, I enjoyed reading the book. Sookie is an extremely likeable character. It’s obvious all the men in her life think so too.

Definitely Dead (2006)
Harris, Charlaine (Fantasy) (324 pgs)
Completed: 05/06/2006 (1:17 a.m.)

I love this series! It’s such a fun lighthearted series full of laughs and heartwarming moments mixed in with action and suspense. Telepath Sookie Stackhouse finds herself in all sorts of trouble in the latest of the Southern Vampire series books. Sookie is summoned to New Orleans to clean out her deceased cousin’s apartment. She’s being attacked be Weres and the Vampire Queen of Louisiana has desires on Sookie’s talents. I was really sad to see the book come to an end, but Ms. Harris made sure to leave behind a lot of hope that there are plenty more Sookie stories left to come.

Reviews for the Remaining Three in the Series (so far):
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone

© Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty 2004-2009. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Fun reviews!!

    I didn't start reading the books until very recently when I realized that the show, True Blood, was based on the books. I read them all in a couple days I liked them so much.

    I read your review of book 9 and totally agree with it being good, but not as good as the others. It seemed like too much was going on and it was all a bit rushed.

    I'm sad that the next book doesn't come out until next year. :(

  2. I signed up for this challenge and haven't read a single one of the books yet. I need to get to work! Thanks for the re-caps.

  3. Great write up, Wendy. However, seeing them one after the other like that brings something into focus - seems like the 'theme' has stayed pretty much consistent - there's trouble coming, Jason may or may not be to blame, and Sookie is in the middle of it.

    Given our mutual feelings about the last book - it was good but... maybe the plot is wearing a little thin? I don't know. In a way I'm just rambling because I would be so sad to lose Sookie and the gang.


  4. Super, super post! I love this. I didn't read your recap of Definitely Dead, because that's my next one in the series.

    How lucky that you had notes for the the books. I'm going to be very sad when I catch up with the series.

    Keep your eye out in case book 10 comes out before next June 30!

  5. Trisha - They go fast, don't they? I really like the books too.

    It does seem like the author's been doing that recently, cramming a lot in--maybe too much.

    Kathy - At least it's still early. You have time. :-)

    CJ - I think the author uses a definite formula with the books. I do think, however, that she surrounds it with enough variety that each book has a different feel to it when I'm reading it--at least they have for me.

    But yeah, I can see how it could become too much of the same after awhile. I guess it's good I spread my reading of the series out.

    Beth - Thank you, Beth! I wasn't going to do this post and then though, "What the heck?"

    I've definitely got my eye out for the next Sookie book.

  6. That Beth is so sweet! I think its great that you are able to share your experiences with Sookie. There was a day when I would have grabbed for this series and devoured it all. I too was an Anne Rice addict. I still may, I just have so many other things I want to read. It is intriguing, and appreciate the time it must have taken for you to offer these great reviews!

  7. Sandy - I still haven't gotten beyond the first two books in Anne Rice's vampire series. I did read three of her Mayfair Witch books, which I liked even more than the vampire stories.

  8. Great post, Wendy! I enjoyed reading your thoughts!

    I think I've read two Anita Blake books so far but I've lost interest in reading them though I've the rest of her books in my pile. I've nothing to blame but my reading mood though... I hope to catch up on this series in the near future!

  9. Melody - Thank you! I think the Anita Blake series didn't really take off for me until the third or fourth book.

    Mood can be everything though when it comes to wanting to read these types of series books. I am sure the mood will strike again eventually. It's not like you haven't got plenty else to read until it does, right?

  10. Nah it's definitely not cheating if you have read the rest of the series previosuly. I can't wait to get started on this series. I am reading the second Aurora Teagarden novel at the moment and I am pretty sure it was you who turned me on to Harris with all your excellent reviews of her many series over the last couple of years. I have True Blood on DVD and am just deciding whether to start watching it first or read the books... Any sugestions?

  11. Very, very nice post, Wendy. I can't wait to get started on the challenge. I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed at the mo with the 999Challenge and all the other goodies that I want to read. Man, I need to find some sort of control and discipline...

  12. Rhinoa - I'd want to read the books before seeing the show, but that's just me. I'm one of those who likes to read the book before seeing the movie more often than not. I look forward to hearing what you think of both!

    Alice - Thank you! I understand feeling overwhelmed with challenges and all those other books you want to read. It's a good sort of overwhelmed though, isn't it?


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