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Charlaine Harris – A Touch of Dead

December 21, 2009

147. A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris (2009)
Southern Vampire Mysteries, short stories

1. Dead Until Dark
2. Living Dead in Dallas
3. Club Dead
4. Dead to the World
5. Dead as a Doornail
6. Definitely Dead
7. All Together Dead
8. From Dead to Worse

Length: 192 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Short Stories

Started: 11 December 2009
Finished: 11 December 2009

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Apart from my determination to read everything Sookie? I wanted to know what critical information I’d missed before Definitely Dead.

Amidst the silly
fun, we finally get some
much-needed answers.

Summary: A Touch of Dead collects all of the Sookie Stackhouse stories that have been published in various anthologies into one slim little volume.

“Fairy Dust” (from Powers of Detection) takes place between Dead to the World and Dead as a Doornail, Sookie learns that fairies Claude and Claudette are actually the two surviving members of triplets, and they want her help in tracking down their sister’s killer.

“Dracula Night” (from Many Bloody Returns) also takes place between Dead to the World and Dead as a Doornail. In it, Eric is getting Fangtasia ready for the celebration of Dracula’s birth, in hopes that his idol will actually appear. Things, unsurprisingly, do not go exactly to plan, and once again, Sookie’s caught in the middle.

“One Word Answer” (from Bite) is the only story in this collection that contains critical information to the plot of the main books, and belongs in sequence right before Definitely Dead. In it, we finally get the scene where Sookie finds out her cousin Hadley is a) a vampire, and b) dead. We meet Mr. Cataliades for the first time, since he’s the one who has brought Sookie the news all the way from New Orleans… the news, along with other, even more unpleasant things.

“Lucky” (from Unusual Suspects) takes place between All Together Dead and From Dead to Worse. In it, Sookie and her witch roommate, Amelia, team up to figure out who has been rifling through the files of their local insurance agent.

“Gift Wrap” (from Wolfsbane and Mistletoe) takes place a week or two before the start of Dead and Gone. It’s Christmas, and since most of Sookie’s friends are out of town, she thinks she’ll be spending it alone… until she runs into a most unusual person in the woods near her house.

Review: While these stories were a fun brief distraction, there was nothing here that was nearly as good any of the normal series books. Because they came from anthologies, marketed to people who haven’t necessarily read the series books, they’re mostly fluffy and disposable, and filled with exposition that’s unnecessary for those of us who actually are fans. Because they needed to exist separate from the series, nothing of consequence happens or changes, and I noticed a few times that something Sookie learned in a short story had been forgotten by the next book in the sequence. (The flip side of that coin was that there were a few lines in series books – about the tie she gave her great grandfather for Christmas, for example – that are raised from being throwaway comments to something a little more, because we actually get to see the events take place.)

The one exception to the generally light, fluffy, and take-it-or-leave-it nature of the anthology is the story “One Word Answer.” It’s probably the darkest story in the book, and it contains some critical information that would have been excellent to have *before* I started in on Definitely Dead. It was my favorite story of the bunch, but I think that’s mainly because something actually *happened*. As for the rest of them… eh. Harmless, and a fun diversion, but nothing to get too excited over. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you’re handed a copy of this book before you start Dead as a Doornail, I’d definitely recommend reading the stories in the order that they fit into the chronology of the series. Don’t read ahead, though, or things will get very confusing, very fast. Otherwise, I’d say before starting Definitely Dead, get this collection out of the library and just read “One Word Answer” so that you’re all caught up to speed.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Bookin’ With Bingo, A Bookworm’s World, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, Love Vampires, NextRead, SciFiGuy
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The first time I was asked to write a short story aout my heroine Sookie Stackhouse, I wasn’t sure I could do it.

Cover Thoughts: I think that’s supposed to be the dress she’s wearing during “Dracula Night”, so that’s a nice touch. Plus, the moon is sparkly! Yay, sparkles!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2009 9:09 am

    I’ve read the first book in the Sookie series and it was just okay to me, so I think I’ll skip this one.

    • December 23, 2009 1:56 pm

      bermudaonion – Probably a wise use of your time, then.

  2. December 21, 2009 10:20 am

    When I have time I want to go back to the beginnng and start the series. It sounds like people either love her or don’t. I think I’m in the first camp. Do you watch First Blood? I haven’t watched it yet, but plan to.

    Thanks for the link!

    • December 23, 2009 1:57 pm

      Luanne – I actually started on my Sookie fixation by watching True Blood, and only after I’d become totally hooked on the TV show did I go seek out the books. There are some big differences, of course, but it’s equally as much fun.

  3. December 21, 2009 11:02 am

    I actually did not read the short stories! I felt that even when, in the books, you saw something was suddenly there that was not there before (like about the fairy triplets), you could figure it out. On the other hand, if my library actually would have a book by Charlaine Harris in it, I would get this just because I’m obsessive compulsive!

    • December 23, 2009 1:58 pm

      rhapsodyinbooks – Oh no! You didn’t miss a lot in this case, but you’ve just reminded me how thankful I am for my wonderful local library.

  4. December 22, 2009 5:47 pm


    You know your reading log. I think there is a slight error because, if you enter the date 12/23/yyyy it shows up as the 356th day of the year.

    • December 23, 2009 2:00 pm

      fyrebyrd – That was a thing to make the graph come out right, so the year goes from 0 to 364 instead of 1 to 365. You can think of it like “This number of complete days had elapsed before I finished this book” – it doesn’t make any of the other calculations inaccurate.

  5. December 23, 2009 4:03 pm

    I haven’t picked this up yet but that’s mainly because I’ve already read a lot of these stories in other anthologies. I actually just got finished reading Gift Wrap.

    • December 26, 2009 4:48 pm

      Ladytink – Timely! Sookie’s kind of my exception – I don’t normally read a ton of adult paranormal romance – so I haven’t ever picked up any of the original anthologies.

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