The Growth of Sookie: Dead Until Dark

In Dead Until Dark, Sookie’s world turns upside down when she meets her first Vampire, Bill Compton. From the moment she lays eyes on him, there is an almost mystical pull on Sookie. From that first night, Sookie’s life is never again the same. In fact, you could almost say the meeting Bill Compton had been the death to what most would call “normal”. Then again, being a telepath, how normal can things every truly be?

Sookie’s reaction to meeting her first Vampire helps reveal just how naive she is and closely resembles how a starstruck teenager. Though the actual wording is quite comical.

I could have danced with joy, and in facet I did do a little step right there by the bar.

Dead Until Dark

She studies Bill closely and is instantly in awe of him, even before she approaches him. Though before she can be given a chance to come off as “charming”, Mack and Denise Rattray intervene and help establish her earlier claims that the bar patrons say she’s crazy. Even her physical appearance, blonde hair, blue-grey eyes, waspy waistline and bountiful bosom, isn’t enough to deter the customers of Merlotte’s from ignoring her tight-lipped, nervous smile and sometimes erratic behavior. For while they have all heard the rumors, most choose to disbelieve the fact that Sookie could possibly read their minds. They avoid touching or contact with her, in hopes of avoiding her ability to read their innermost thoughts.

One can understand why Sookie finds Bill’s presence so soothing. Not being able to hear his thoughts, his presence gives her mind the first break she has ever had from the constant bombardment of others’ thoughts. Bill also presents the sense of something mysterious and an almost dangerous excitement for Sookie. Something that had never been present in Sookie’s twenty-five years of existence.

Some of Sookie’s more attractive qualities are presented early on. Sensing Bill’s possible danger with the Rattrays, whom Sookie knows to have a history with draining Vampires, she is quick to action in hopes of saving him from their clutches. Though unknown at the time, this fight scene between Sookie and the Rattrays gives us the first of many hints of the possibility that there may be more to Sookie Stackhouse than what meets the readers’ eyes.

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.

Dead Until Dark

Her desire to help those in need becomes a recurring theme throughout the book. Faced with the mystery of trying to find out who is killing women who have all dated Vampires and exploring her budding relationship with Bill, Sookie’s world is turned upside down. As the body count rises, she becomes more desperate before the killer comes for her.

Since there isn’t much growth of Sookie in this first book of the series, we will explore the key characters:

Adele Stackhouse

While set in the 21st century, Sookie’s way of thinking is a little less than modern. Her beliefs reflect the impact of Sookie’s upbringing under the care of her grandmother, Adele. As excited at the possibilities of meeting a Vampire as Sookie was, Adele is quick to ponder if Bill could possibly be a veteran of the Civil War. Her love for her granddaughter and desire to see her happy, Adele Stackhouse is more than understanding of Sookie’s desire to be courted by Bill. She was supportive and hopeful at the possible union. Her influence over Sookie is shown time and time again as Sookie recalls her grandmother’s beliefs and sayings.

Jason Stackhouse

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 this disabled, so hugging me is a double whammy of recommendation.

Dead Until Dark

While Sookie is described as pretty, Jason is simply irresistible. He is what one may call a ladies’ man. Sookie points out how despite his ability to be callous, many women are willing to overlook his faults in hopes of gaining his attention. It is because of his tomcatting ways, that he is quickly pinned as the number one suspect in the deaths of the murdered women. This cloud of suspicion helps further drive Sookie to find the person responsible for these murders.

Jason and Sookie are not particularly close for siblings and their relationship is further strained time and time again throughout the course of the book. Yet, despite all of this, Sookie strives to prove her brother’s innocence as well as find some middle ground for them to exist on.

Sam Merlotte

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 seem him unload trucks with his shirt off, and he has plenty of upper-body strength.

Dead Until Dark

Sam Merlotte is Sookie’s boss and friend. Yet, there seems to be more than meets the eye with this simple barman. In fact, he’s harboring a deep, dark secret as well as an attraction for Sookie. Unlike the majority of the patrons in his bar, Sam knows instantly what Bill is and yet Sookie never questions how. She can’t deny there is something there between them, no matter how much it goes against her beliefs. Their relationship becomes tense as she falls further into the pit of the Vampire world and it is only by accident that he reveals himself to Sookie… his “true” self.

Bill Compton

He was 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.

Dead Until Dark

Bill Compton is a veteran… a Civil War veteran, that is. Originally from Bon Temps, Bill has returned to his hometown after the death of his last family member. Dark, smooth and cool, Bill easily attracts the attention of Sookie. Of course, the fact she can’t hear his thoughts doesn’t hurt either. Unlike most Vampires, (as seen later in the book) he doesn’t try to push himself or his will upon Sookie. He allows her time to adjust and be comfortable. His true age shows in his courtship of her and at times it almost seems as if he is struggling internally with something.

Trying to maintain a lifestyle of mainstreaming proves to be challenging at time for him as he has to deal with discrimination for his undead status and pressure from a local nest of Vampires. Hardly a new Vampire, Bill has to struggle over control of his and Sookie’s lives as those above him set their sights on what is his. These struggles, internal as well as external, cause strain on his budding romance with Sookie. Unfamiliar with the horrors that are hidden in the shadows as you step into the world of the supernatural, Sookie struggles to maintain an open mind and to be truly understanding with the ways of the Vampire.

Bill’s presence in her life introduces Sookie to several things. Some wonderful and some out right deadly. With a murder on the loose that seems to target those involved with Vampires, Sookie and Bill are fully aware that she may be next on the list.

Eric Northman, Pam Ravenscroft and the Monroe Vamps

Upon entering the world of Vampire for which Bill is apart of, Sookie discovers that not all Vampires are as civil as Bill Compton. In fact, just as with humans, Vampires come in as many sizes, ages and even races. Some, such as the Monroe Vamps, resent the “Great Revelation” (when the Vampires came “out of the coffin”). The continuously resist against the public persona of mainstreaming.

Malcolm nipped at a bartender in Bogaloosas. Diane danced naked in Farmerville. Liam dated an underage girl in Shongaloo, and her mother, too. He took blood from both. He didn’t erase the memory of either.

Dead Until Dark

It is these actions and a little prodding from the mysterious serial killer, that leads to the death of these Vampires. Though as the reader gains further knowledge of Vampires and their affairs, one can’t help but wonder why the Sheriff of Area Five, Eric Northman, had not stepped in to stop the plague that was once the Monroe Vampires.

Eric Northman is a thousand year old, Viking Vampire who runs a Vampire bar called “Fangtasia” in Shreveport, LA. In pursuit of finding out who could have killed the women in Bon Temps, Sookie convinces Bill to take her to the bar, so that she may do further investigation. It is this first visit to Fangtasia, that exposed Sookie’s abilities to the Vampires of Area Five. Intrigued, not only of her looks but also the possibilities of how her gift can be used to help him, Eric is quick to order Bill to return Sookie to Fangtasia.

Alongside with his child, Pam, Eric watches as Sookie uses her abilities to discover who is stealing from his establishment. When the culprit attacks her, in order to prevent her from uttering their name, it is at the hands of Eric that they meet their final death. Despite her disgust for Eric’s arrogance and ego, it is clear that there is an attraction between the fair haired telepath and the ancient Viking Vampire, even more so when she hears a string of his thoughts.

These small glimpses into the world of Vampire, is enough to convince Sookie of how much she appreciates the simple human life she has. If anything, it leads her to cherish it even more than she already had. It’s almost admirable that she is both realistic and not so willing to give up her mortal life for the thrill and glamor of the immortal one.

Dead Until Dark provides a wonderful foundation for what is to come. While Sookie ranges from being a naive Southern good girl to stubborn and at times ignorant small town woman, she is fair from perfect. It is her strength, love for those she is closest to and apathy for others leaves her to be a likable and nearly relatable character. Her charming personality and utter ability to stumble into as much trouble as one could possibly manage in just a short period of time, leaves the reader asking, “What will happen next?”