The series is a first-person account of Sookie's life as a barmaid and telepath in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. The first book in the series, Dead Until Dark, won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery in 2001.
Sookie's great uncle sexually molested her and her aunt Linda from a very early age. When Sookie told her parents of the abuse, they didn't believe her. After their death, Sookie's grandmother barred him from contacting Sookie. Her grandmother's protectiveness saved Sookie from further molestation.
Sookie lived with her grandmother well into her twenties and they had a close relationship. When her grandmother was murdered by a serial killer, it sunk Sookie into a deep depression. With the deaths of Sookie's great uncle and her cousin Hadley, Sookie and Jason are the only remaining Stackhouses.
Recently, the fact has come to light that faerie blood runs in her family. This might be part of what makes her attractive to supernatural creatures ("supes") and vampires in particular.
In the latest novel, From Dead to Worse, Sookie meets her great-grandfather, who is a powerful faerie prince and the grandfather of her friends, the faerie twins Claudine and Claude. It is also revealed that Hadley had a son, Hunter, who is now a toddler. He also possesses mind reading abilities.
Sookie's telepathic abilities manifested when she was quite young. In her hometown of Bon Temps, many people believe Sookie to be mentally unstable, while others deny the fact that she is able to read people's minds. Sookie says that people's thoughts are not formed in complete sentences, but rather in minimal words and images. She describes some people as "broadcasters", meaning that their minds are fairly easy to read.
According to Sookie, both physical and eye contact make an individual's mind easier to read. The minds of humans are also easier to read, though this also varies depending on the individual. Supernatural beings are much more difficult, as Sookie usually only gets impressions and emotions unless the individual is intentionally broadcasting. Vampires are impossible for Sookie to read--which is partially why she begins dating vampire Bill Compton--though she does have occasional glimpses. She keeps these glimpses a secret from everyone, however, as she is convinced the vampires will kill her if they knew.
She supports herself by working as a barmaid at a local bar, Merlotte's, which is owned by local shifter Sam Merlotte, as well as occasionally utilizing her telepathic talents for the local group of vampires headed by Eric Northman. Recently, she's worked with vampires even higher up in the hierarchy, including the kings and queens of several states. Despite her hard work, she's not particularly wealthy and often feels strained by the need to support herself, even while her pride leaves her incapable of accepting gifts from her wealthier friends.
In her free time, Sookie suntans, reads, watches television, and attends local football games. While Sookie's telepathy once left her feeling incapable of getting a post-secondary education, she considers herself to be a great dancer and loves to expand her vocabulary with her word-of-the-day-calendar.
Harris describes Sookie as a tanned, blue-eyed, and buxom blond. But although she is young, fit and good looking, Sookie did not have many suitors until she met the vampire Bill Compton. Being able to read her date's minds was usually a big turn-off for Sookie. And her reputation as a weirdo didn't make her very attractive either.
Now Sookie finds herself attracted to dominant men with supernatural abilities. Vampires and other "supes" are harder to read than humans, muffling the effects of her telepathy and giving Sookie a refreshing break from the constant noise of other people's thoughts.
Vampires seem especially immune to her ability. Their brains appear to be blank spaces when compared to the busy tangle of ideas that come from a human's mind.
Because of this relaxing blankness, Sookie was able to experience her first physical and emotional romantic relationship with Bill, who was turned into a vampire following the American Civil War. He introduced her to the complexities of vampire society in the United States. This led to many difficulties for Sookie but their relationship lasted several months before his infidelity with a former lover, the vampire Lorena, led Sookie to break things off. Eric later forced Bill to reveal to a shocked Sookie that he was ordered by the Queen of Louisiana to court her in order for the Queen to gain her loyalty. Though Bill swore that he really did fall in love with her over time, a devastated and depressed Sookie told Bill he was banished from her life.
As the series progresses, Sookie finds herself attracted to several other "supes", such as her boss and longtime friend Sam Merlotte, a true shifter who can turn into any animal he wishes. Sookie and Sam kiss several times and they've discussed the possibility of a romantic relationship, but Sookie was worried about the effect it would have on their business relationship. She also went out on a few dates with the werewolf Alcide Herveaux. In that case, his violent ex-girlfriend Debbie proved to be an obstacle to a relationship.
Some time after her break-up with Bill, Sookie was forced to care for his boss, the vampire sheriff of Area 5, Eric Northman. Eric was under a witch's curse that altered his memory and left him vulnerable and more attractive to Sookie than his ordinarily manipulative self. When he regained his memory, he also regained his deep entanglement with vampire politics, leading Sookie to break off the relationship. Eric recently revealed that he recalls all of the events that occurred while he was under the curse.
Sookie also dated the famous weretiger Quinn. However, that relationship became strained after Quinn and his sister disappeared at the end of All Together Dead. Sookie ended the relationship when she realized Quinn would always put his family (his half-sister Frannie and his deranged mother) ahead of her.
The character Sookie Stackhouse appears in the following: