Title: A Touch of Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Page Count: 192 pages
Genre: urban fantasy
Copy for review compliments of the public library
50 words or less: 5 short stories from the world of Sookie Stackhouse; if you're new to the series, this is a good place to start.
I'm a huge Sookie fan. The books are excellent, the stories are fun and horrifying and creepy and sweet all at the same time, and the characters are ones you can relate to and love or love to hate, whichever flavor you prefer. The short stories set in Sookieland are more of the same, for the most part.
All of these stories were published in other anthologies, so it's possible they can be rereads; I know I'd encountered at least one before reading this volume.
The story arcs and timelines of the full length Sookie novels are pretty tight; as a result, the stories aren't a part of the timeline, and with one exception, don't contain information that's pertinent to the rest of the books. Some of the stories I definitely liked more than others; hell, in the introduction, Charlaine Harris tells us that she likes some of the stories better than others, so I guess the rest of us can as well.
Round 1: Fairy Dust details Sookie's attempt to find out who murdered the third of a set of fairy triplets; Claudine, her fairy godmother, and Claude, the self-obsessed stripper, being the other two. It's a quick story but does give some insight into the viciousness of the fairies that populate Sookieland. These ain't no Tinkerbells, people.
Round 2: Dracula Night is about the vampire version of Christmas, New Year's, and your birthday all wrapped up: Dracula's Birthday. Eric is a complete fanboy in this story and it reminds you of why Eric seems like a nice guy sometimes. Oh, and Sookie is completely kick ass.
Round 3: One Word Answer is the one story in this collection that adds something to the rest of the Sookie novels. Here's where we first meet Mr. Cataliades (one of my FAVORITE side characters ever, by the way) and find out what really happened to Sookie's cousin Hadley, which lays the groundwork for her going to New Orleans and getting messed up in even more shady vampire business. She also meets Quinn as a result of the events in this story. Sookie uses her brain to triumph over supernatural assholes in this story, which is always fun.
Round 4: Lucky is the most left-field of the stories and is about Sookie and Amelia-the-witch's attempts to find out who's making life miserable for Sookie's insurance agent, who happens to use magic to extra-insure his clients. It's an interesting story and is the perfect length for what it entails; the lesson that using magic has consequences is pertinent.
Round 5: Gift Wrap is the story of a particularly lonely Christmas Eve for Sookie and her great-grandfather's attempt to liven things up. It's a fun story that introduces some interesting one-time (I think?) characters. Sookie gets some from a dude that doesn't have treacherous ulterior motives, which is admittedly a nice change. Poor Sookie.
Anyway, the collection as a whole is fun, but I have to admit, I'm glad I didn't pay hardcover price for the book, which is on the short side. If it comes out in paperback it might be a fun book to have, even just for bragging rights for having all the Sookie books, but otherwise it's a great candidate to get from the library.
Overall Grade: B
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