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Vampire Therapy

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Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 3:47 pm

And the new year comes along whether we're ready for it or not. Fine. I'm ready to see 2011 in the rear view mirror. For some reason, many people I know feel the same way.

Having suffered a bit of emotional hardship in the last few months, I was forced to find solace in the strangest of places.

• I didn't crawl into a bottle

• I didn't binge on sugary treats (except maybe a little around the holidays, but I'm human, okay?)

• I didn't pull the covers over my head and hide from the world.

Instead I was drawn to the healing comfort of ... vampire novels.

Not a common choice to lick your metaphorical wounds, but it helped get my mind off my troubles for awhile. One set of books in particular - the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris was my salve of choice. Nope, it's not Shakespeare. Not even close. It's cheesy and entertaining and well written for its genre. What Harris offers in her series is the one thing Shakespeare does not: Easily readable fun.

Shakespeare is homework. Harris' Stackhouse series is the anti-homework. It's entertaining and sucks you in (pun intended) to a delightful fantasy world. The first book I read, completely unaware of the longevity of the series, was the 10th or 11th book Harris had written. Since I quickly became obsessed I downloaded the first book on my Kindle and remained glued there for days. The books are quick reads and don't require a lot of head space - perfect for me at the time. And they're pure therapeutic escapism. Just what the doctor ordered.

The fun takes place in Bon Temps, Louisiana which is home to Vampires, Witches, Fairies and Were-things. Werewolves are a given, of course, but there are also werepanthers, weretigers and probably werebunnies if we look close enough.

Harris started writing these books around 1991 and has kept up with one a year since that time. The HBO show 'True Blood' is based on this series and the characters are pretty true to form. The plot lines differ between the books and the screen. And that's okay because it's all good.

You can't help but root for the main character Sookie, who tries to live a decent life as a waitress in this small backwater town. She can't help the fact that she's telepathic and carries a small percentage of fairy blood. She's probably the least paranormal of the entire cast of characters - except for the full-blooded humans, of which there are few. The setting is present-day and the knowledge of vampires is known to the public. The treatment of these undead citizens brings to mind a lot of civil rights issues we've dealt with in the past - with a twist of course. And Harris does a cheeky job of taking jabs at the treatment of cultural differences while steering clear of a hypothetical soapbox.

Our Sookie works hard, says her prayers, attends church and basically does unto others as she would have done unto her. Except she also dates vampires and werewolves and occasionally is forced to brutally kill an attacker. Somehow, just by being her sweet self, she's made many angry and dangerous enemies. Sookie regularly gets her ass handed to her on a platter and she keeps coming back for more. She's fiercely loyal to those she loves and very ... scrappy.

I've finished them all now and will most likely move on to something a little meatier. But if I need to decompress and get my mind off my troubles, I can always revisit Sookie. Maybe some of her scrappiness will rub off.

So, onward with 2012.

I hope we all have a happy (and scrappy) new year.