After watching the first few episodes of True Blood on HBO, I was enthralled with what seemed to be a darker, more humorous updated version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and discovered the series was based on a set of novels by Charlaine Harris.
I ordered the first four and read them within a week. Whilst they were markedly different from HBO's version, I quickly became involved with the characters and the world in and around Bon Temps.
The novel revolves around a mind reading waitress, her vampire boyfriend and the emergence of Vampire society. The setting of Louisiana is original and the characters of Sookie and the vampires around her are fascinating. We don't leap immediately into the supernatural world, but learn along with Sookie, that not everything is as it seems, and whilst exciting - there is a much darker undertone.
Charlaine writes fromm Sookie's perspective - you can almost hear the southern drawl as the chapters progress, and Sookie's spirited and sometimes hilarious narrative keeps you riveted. The typical and traditional gothic stereotypes of vampires are deftly sidestepped, and Charlaine doesn't reinvent the concept of vampires as much as reinvigorates them.
The only shortcoming of this book is that it ends too soon, but on the plus side, the continuing books in the series are consistent and builds on previous storylines, subplots and characters. I can't believe I've not picked up these books before now, and am lookinng forward to reading the rest of the series.