The Bottom Line: I'm a little disappointed but not sorry. The bottom line has to fill in the gaps, but not hardcore fans could skip this and be okay.
On a work trip my husband got hooked on the HBO True Blood series, and asked me to check it out from the library. I was on a waiting list for ten weeks before my turn finally came up, and as I was expecting a baby literally any day we hurried and watched series over the course of two nights. I found it was based on a series of Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris, and immediately began the series. Lo and behold I just finished the last published book in the series, and after stumbling across a review of this book of short Sookie stories I checked this one out. I'm glad this one could tide me over until the next one comes out, but I will honestly say I'm disappointed.
A Bit of Background...
Author Charlaine Harris has struck gold with her Sookie Stackhouse novels, known as the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Set in Bon Temps Louisiana and featuring an independent, sexy and humorous telepathic barmaid named Sookie the novels are riddled with vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, fairies, and all other sorts of supernatural beings (supes, if you will). The series began in 2001 with Dead Until Dark and the world currently awaits the tenth novel in the series (not counting this book of short stories), Dead in the Family.
A Touch of Dead is a book of short stories about author Charlaine Harris' well-known and loved character Sookie Stackhouse. The book includes five between-the-books short stories written for the inclusion in a few different short stories books: Fairy Dust, One Word Answer, Dracula Night, Lucky, and Giftwrap. (While Harris has written other Sookie-Stackhouse-world stories, up to this point the above are the only ones that include the Sookie character.) The stories are indeed short, and each can be read easily and quickly, maybe while waiting to see a doctor or while waiting for your entree at a restaurant. Actually, at around 200 pages, the entire book can be read in one [longer] sitting.
Fairy Dust (from the short story book Powers of Detection) is about Sookie's friends, twin fairies Claude and Claudine, and their investigation of their triplet sister, Claudette's murder. I enjoyed this story, as it went into just a little bit of background and detail about Sookie's fairy godmother Claudine, and explains Claude, who I previously thought seemed to come out of nowhere. The story is a humorous, detailed investigation and kept me guessing about the murderer, which was good, though it was also fairly confusing, and NOT in a good way.
One Word Answer (from the short story book Bite) is about Sookie's cousin Hadley's death and the circumstances that surround it. This story includes Bill and Bubba as well as many of the characters that are otherwise not introduced until Definitely Dead, including Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq and her lawyer Mr. Cataliades. This story was a relief to me because it better explains Definitely Dead, which previously had me confused and therefore somewhat irritated. I didn't quite understand how Sookie knew what she turns out to know (I'm sure that's confusing), which also irritates me. In a mystery story, after finding out how things really happened if I can't go back and say "oh yeah, that makes sense now" when reviewing earlier events, then I can't understand how the puzzle was solved and it doesn't seem as realistic to me. This is one of those unrealistic cases though you may be wondering how a supernatural world would seem realistic in the first place, and I don't blame you.
Dracula Night (from the short story book Many Bloody Returns) is about a holiday vampires, particularly Eric, celebrate enthusiastically- the famed Dracula's birthday. In this story Eric is a little over-the-top and he really doesn't seem like himself. I looked forward to this story, because I always look forward to a story involving both Sookie and Eric, but I was pretty disappointed. Eric was out of character and the story could have had a better climax. Instead it just falls flat for this reader.
Lucky (from the short story book Unusual Suspects) is about Greg Aubert, one of Bon Temps' insurance agents who just happens to be very lucky. We know from previous books that Greg is lucky because he uses a little witchcraft to help his business, and in this story he enlists Sookie and her roommate Amelia's help to find out why someone is breaking into his office and who that person is. I liked this story most of all, though it didn't have any romance or much (though there was a little) interaction between Sookie and either of my favorite male vampires. This story had more substance to it and was easier to follow, making more sense.
Lastly, Gift Wrap (from the short story book Wolfsbane and Mistletoe) is about a slightly depressed Sookie. It's Christmas and she doesn't have anyone around to celebrate with. When Sookie heads outside she's in for a surprise sexy visitor, and the detailed story leads to a romantic encounter (which I'd been looking for for the duration of the book up until this point). The circumstances that bring the mysterious ‘man' to Sookie are quite interesting, and the twist at the end is incredible. I go back and forth about this story... I'm disappointed because Sookie is unlike her normally more withheld self and because the encounter wasn't with Bill or -even better- Eric. The story was good but Sookie just didn't act the way she probably would have in other events. It did leave me wanting to know more, though.
Overall I enjoyed these short stories, and they helped fill in some of the small gaps I've encountered in the series up to now. There have been times in the ‘real' books where I've thought "huh?" and this book helped quickly explain those bits. It was a nice quick read, and I don't regret it, however I wish the stories had just plain been better. While the author readily admits that writing these short stories wasn't easy I still wasn't prepared to be as disappointed as I was. If the stories within had been longer and still of the same ‘meh' quality, I would suggest skipping it for die-hard Sookie fans, but since it's such a quick read I say go for it. Those who could take of leave Sookie and the supernatural world could definitely skip this book and not be missing anything.
Pros: Fun, brief, something to read. Cons: Nah, not really. The Bottom Line: If you're enjoying the Sookie Stackhouse series, then this is a nice little tidbit to tide you over until the next book comes out. According to Charlaine Harris, a few anthologies requested that she write some short stories for them (as anthology people tend to do - big names help the books sell). So she did. She admits right in the Introduction … more
In order to support the adventures of telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse, creator Charlaine Harris had to create an entire world. Technically it's Louisiana, but the rules are slightly different--Sookie cavorts with vampires, shape shifters, werewolves, and other preternatural beings, who live right along side everyone else. After nine outrageously successful books in Sookie's Southern Vampire series (and following on the heels of a popular television adaptation), Harris gives fans TOUCH OF DEAD, a complete collection of all the short stories written about Sookie's world. Most, but not all, feature the spunky heroine, and ravenous readers will also encounter exciting new details about the curious world of Bon Temps.