It certainly wasn't the writing. Each book is told from Sookie's perspective, in a voice equal parts Margaret Mitchell and Hee Haw. Sometimes, Harris's characterizations made me wince. An African-American detective is a "black Amazon." A Japanese vampire named Chow is covered in Yakuza tattoos. The Native American vampire is named Longshadow. Might my beloved be a bit racist? Sookie's just sheltered, I rationalized. After all, she kept reminding me, she's just a lowly barmaid from Louisiana. If anyone could get away with describing a black woman as an Amazon, it'd be her.
I don't think I fell in love with Sookie for her sense of humor, either. Though critics praise Harris for being funny, I don't know if, in the course of reading the books, I laughed more than a couple times. Harris's real genius is creating tedium.
For every witch fight or sexy interlude, there are two more scenes where Sookie is cooking or cleaning. At times, reading this series felt like getting home from work, only to toil in a virtual salt mine in Second Life. Harris writes about Sookie's hot showers and pajama selection in loving detail. We know that a sexy were-animal or vampire will soon injure and/or hump Sookie. Even so, these scenes offer a depressing, '50s-housewife sort of foreplay, one in which banalities like shaving's one's legs and mopping the floor get one in the mood.
But it doesn't take all that much to get Sookie in the mood. Often, she's so horny that just looking at Vampire Erik's bicep sends her into a sexy reverie. She can't even hug her boss without wanting to get freaky. If she were a guy, she'd be that guy who stares at your boobs and thrusts his chest out when he hugs you.
There's a reason for all this horniness: Sookie's a novice. She loses her virginity in the first book, when she's 25, with Vampire Bill, in a sex scene so shocking that it makes those on the show look like Sesame Street. After a vigorous shtupping, Bill bites his arm, daubs his finger in the wound, and swabs Sookie's vaginal canal, using of the healing powers of vampire blood to alleviate her soreness so they can do it some more.
That's as weird and gross the sex scenes get. Little wonder: if not for their supernatural abilities, Sookie's boyfriends would be extremely boring. Vampire Bill is a workaholic computer geek. Quinn the were-tiger has Mommy issues. Erik is a vampire in the worn-out mold of Mr. Darcy — predictably arrogant, but competent and fair. And Alcide is just a jerk.
What I found most enticing about Sookie was her all-access pass to a hidden world. She's one of the few humans trusted by warring factions of supernatural beings. Her telepathy enables her to see and hear things others can't. When she's not in pajamas, she's a VIP at every club. She can talk to animals. Oh yeah, and she's one-quarter fairy.