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A Touch of Dead Cover Picture

A Touch of Dead

Charlaine Harris

Published 2009             192 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

For the first time ever collected into a single edition, A Touch of Dead contains all of the Sookie Stackhouse short stories that have been published in other books and anthologies over the years. A Touch of Dead contains: Fairy Dust, Dracula Night, One word Answer, Lucky and Gift Wrap.

In “Fairy Dust” Sookie finds her mind-reading talents in demand when a fairy from a set of triplets gets dusted. “Dracula Night” may be the commemoration of the Prince of Darkness’s birth, but it Sookie who gets a tasty-looking present.

Learning that her cousin is dead is shocking enough for Sookie. Learning that her cousin was a vampire who got staked leaves her speechless in “One Word Answer.” When Sookie teams up with her witchy friend Amelia to discover who has it out for Bon Temps’s most successful insurance agent, they get “Lucky.” A solo Sookie has the holiday blues in “Gift Wrap,” until she has an unexpected encounter with someone who has bigger problems than loneliness.

The Review

A Touch of Dead is a rather nicely packaged collection of five fairly short Sookie Stackhouse stories. I say nicely packaged because this hardback volume has another charming cover illustration by Lisa Desimini, who illustrated the covers of all the original versions of the books in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and also contains a number of other original black and white illustrations by the same artist between its covers. The pages of the book are printed on thick bright white paper, again adding to the quality feel of this volume. Its almost like the publisher is trying to make up for the scanty written contents of the book by creating a physical object that feels like it is worth the hefty $24 cover price of this story collection.

Cover design judgements are always fairly subjective. Personally I love the whimsical covers of the original Sookie books and felt that I wanted this book in hardback for my collection because they all look so lovely on my “keeper” book shelf. But if you are less of a collector, and more of a reader, then you might want to think twice about whether you want to purchase this overpriced item.

The stories contained in A Touch of Dead have all been published before in other anthologies, so there is a chance that the avid Sookie reader will have already read some, if not all, of these tales. An introduction to the collection from Charlaine Harris helps to put each story into chronological order - which is helpful when it comes to trying to work out where characters and storylines fit into the Sookie series as a whole. The events in “Fairy Dust”, the earliest story in chronological terms, occur after Dead To The World. The events in “Gift Wrap”, the latest story, take place before Dead and Gone.

So what do readers get in A Touch of Dead? “Fairy Dust” (originally published in Powers of Detection) is a story about Sookie using her mind reading powers to help the fairy triplets Claude, Claudine and Claudette solve a crime. “Dracula Night” (originally published in Many Bloody Returns) is the story of what happens when Eric throws a big party at Fangtasia to celebrate the birthday of legendary vampire, Prince Dracula.

“One Word Answer” (originally from Bite) is the story of how Sookie finds out that her cousin Hadley is dead. This story introduced the whole Hadley was a vampire and a consort of the Queen storyline that was continued in the full length Sookie novels, so it is worth reading for that alone. “Lucky” (originally from Unusual Suspects) is an enjoyable mystery story where Amelia and Sookie use their powers to investigate break-ins at their insurance agent’s office.

“Gift Wrap” (originally from Wolfsbane and Mistletoe) is a story about how Sookie aids an injured werewolf on Christmas Eve. This is a great Christmas story. It has a warm Christmas theme without going overboard on seasonal cheer and good-will-to-all-men, which is usually the first thing to put me off Christmas stories…

All of the stories are fairly average compared to Charlaine Harris’s full length Sookie books but its worth remembering that Charlaine Harris’s average writing is better than a lot of author’s good…

All in all, it’s hard to rate A Touch of Dead. All the stories are entertaining and funny but whether they are worth the steep cover price of this volume is difficult to say. Its worth noting that Charlaine Harris is continuing to write new Sookie short stories so when you purchase A Touch of Dead you haven’t even purchased the complete collection of the Sookie shorts. Collectors will probably snap this book up but readers might want to wait for the paperback edition or borrow it from the library.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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