17
Nov
09

A Touch of Dead – Essential Sookie?

ATOD2A Touch of Dead (released last month) is a compilation of five previously published Sookie short stories brought together in one cute little volume. Each story has a “slot” in Sookie’s timeline, and is set in between books in the main series.

I’ve heard a few mutterings about this book being overpriced and over hyped. Pfft haters, I say. Sookie-junkies will be fascinated by the extra insights into characters and plot offered here that aren’t contained in the full length books. While most of these stories aren’t integral to understanding the books, they certainly add some extra “shades to the palette” in terms of our understanding of the characters.

Fairy Dust & Dracula Night (both set after Book 4 – Dead to the World)
DTTWIn Fairy Dust, Sookie helps Claude and Claudine to discover what happened to their sister, Claudette. Bet you didn’t know that Claudine and Claude were actually triplets – the third sibling being Claudette who has gone missing in this short story.

I was really looking forward to Dracula Night because, well…it’s all about Eric. So what’s not to like, right? Well quite a bit, as it turned out.

Eric seems to again take temporary leave of his senses and turns into a fawning fanboy in anticipation of a visit from the Prince of Darkness himself, Count Dracula. His behaviour in this story, especially the first half was completely disconcerting and just felt out of character to me. And Sookie seemed as freaked out by his personality transplant as I was. Who is this Eric? The usually cool, calm and unflappable Eric – preening and fluffing, and outright obsessing over table decorations? Running at the mouth with nerves? I kept waiting for Pam to slip him a valium or something. Um, I will have the real Eric back now please Charlaine. And don’t ever emasculate him like that again. Eric tells fucking ELVIS what to do! He is a BAMF – you hear me? A BAMF!

This story was clearly an attempt to “cutesy” him a little. Perhaps Harris was aiming to make him more endearing. Well it failed on me and I already love him. Maybe she was trying to make him more appealing to Bill fans by giving him a sappy, spineless side. I doubt she achieved much of that either – at last check they still hate him so it’s Situation Normal there. I jest. In all seriousness, I guess the point of all this schmoozing was to show both Sookie and the reader that Eric’s ego actually does know bounds, and there are still some things that impress him. Being that we are now five books on from this story – and Sookie still likes to tell herself Eric is a self absorbed egomaniac most of the time – I think you might need a bigger stick Charlaine.

There was but one redeeming line in this sappy-sap-fest and it came courtesy of Pam, of course. “Thank you for helping Eric when I couldn’t”, Pam said. “My maker is a big idiot about the prince.”

We are SO on the same page girlfriend.

One Word Answer (set after Book 5 – Dead as a Doornail)
DAADSo hands up if you were as confused I was in Definitely Dead (Book 6) when Sookie started talking about Mr Cataliades and Queen Sophie-Anne as if they were her long lost BFF’s? Then she started rambling on about Hadley’s murder, and I started to think that I’d missed a memo. I actually dug out the previous book to check that I hadn’t missed a chapter.  No, I didn’t so….what the hell?

As it turns out, Sookie meets both Mr C and Sophie-Anne for the first time in One Word Answer. They arrive in Bon Temps to inform her of Hadley’s death, and to give her the opportunity to pass judgement on her killer.

Not only do we find out what happened to Hadley and get a sneak peak at Sophie-Anne before she takes a central role in the next book, but reading between the lines a little there are also some tasty hints about Bill’s Dirty Secret. You know the one? Of course you do.

Of all the short stories, One Word Answer is probably the one that contributes most to the bigger story, and it definitely makes the whole Hadley situation in Book 6 much easier to follow. If you only read one of the short stories, this would be my pick. Then you won’t be flipping through your copy of DAAD until it’s dog eared and falling apart, trying to work out what you missed like I did.

Lucky (set after Book 7 – All Together Dead)
ATDIn the story that probably held the least interest for me, Sookie and her friend Amelia Broadway are asked to investigate a business-related problem for local amateur witch/insurance agent, Greg Aubert.  There is only so much luck to go around in Bon Temps, and it seems Greg is commanding more than his fair share.

My interest was piqued though at Amelia’s explanation of a “magical null” – a human who is unaffected by magic. According to Amelia, these humans are exceptionally rare. We have never seen this concept explored in the full length books. Is this one of those little “bombs in the garden” that Harris is keeping to set off later? She admits that she does this when she writes, and it struck me that the magical null was mentioned more than once in this story. Like we should be taking notice of it. Our Sookie appears to be quite resistant to various forms of magic – maenads, vampires and witches all seem to find her slightly problematic when it comes to making her submit to their influence. Hmmm.

Gift Wrap (set after From Dead to Worse – Book 8)
FDTWIt’s Christmas Eve, and Sookie is home all alone. Niall Brigant, her fae prince relative decides to give her a Christmas gift that he knows she will appreciate. His gift comes in the form of a fairy disguised as a Were – a Were who shows up naked and injured in Sookie’s woods. “Hmmm…a hot, naked, injured guy in her woods?” I hear you say. “We can’t even begin to imagine what Sookie might do with him.” Let’s take a wild stab – the same thing she did with that other hot, naked, memory-impaired guy she found in her woods a while back? Seems like this little boy lost routine is guaranteed to bring out Trampy!Sookie every time.

We all know she’s a hornbag, Niall. You don’t get any extra points for working that out.

I personally don’t mind this story, but we can pick it apart anyway. Coming so late in the series, some readers have felt that this incident cheapened Sookie and essentially had her behaving like a two-bit whore. The second big whinge is that it is just plain creepy for her great-great-grandfather to be sending her a good screw for Christmas, no matter how much she might have needed one. I can kind of understand that some people would find that…offputting.

But let’s not forget that Niall isn’t human. He isn’t constrained by the social mores that we humans observe. He knew Sookie hadn’t been getting any for a while – what with Quinn on the outs and Eric preoccupied in Shreveport with that pesky takeover. He knew she enjoyed sex, and he knew what would appeal to her. So he sent it, hoping it would make her happy. And it did. He doesn’t have any moral hangups to contend with, so I’m cool with that. Maybe next Christmas he’ll give her one of those Twilight dildos.

If you can’t get enough of Sookie and her world and want to know every last juicy detail, you should find A Touch of Dead to be a worthwhile read. If nothing else, it’s a great way to kill time until Dead In the Family is released next May.

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1 Response to “A Touch of Dead – Essential Sookie?”


  1. 1 bellaella
    January 25, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    “Then she started rambling on about Hadley’s murder, and I started to think that I’d missed a memo. I actually dug out the previous book to check that I hadn’t missed a chapter. No, I didn’t so….what the hell?
    Then you won’t be flipping through your copy of DAAD until it’s dog eared and falling apart, trying to work out what you missed like I did. ”

    Hahaha! So did I! I thought I missed something and went back over a few books to see what I had missed! The book is way overproced as is the latest. It’s like 4 times the price of the paperback 😦

    I’ve bougt Bloodlite in the past and I am trying to find it to reread it to see if it had a Sookie story

    Thanks for this post – great writing and insightful commentry as usual


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ABOUT SOOKIEVERSE

My ramblings on the Sookie Stackhouse books, and the HBO series True Blood. Everyone I know is already half crazed with my plot and character assassinations, conspiracy theories, theme explorations and general obsessing, so now I'm going to share it all with you. Spoilers and Viking worship are rampant...you have been warned!

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