Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Touch of Dead -- Book Review

A Touch of Dead 
by Charlaine Harris
Rating: 4 out of 5

This book is a collection of five short stories featuring the telepathic waitress and friend of vampires, werewolves, and witches, Sookie Stackhouse.  I have been looking at the novels in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series for some time now because the premise of them is so appealing, and because there's so many of them, which is always a nice prospect when one encounters a new author -- there won't be any waiting for the next book if you like the series, because the the next book has already been written!

So I chose this book, hoping that it would be the perfect introduction to the Sookie Stackhouse novels.  I am glad to say that I was right; these stories, set in Sookie's world and falling in between the action of various novels in the series, introduce a lot of the major characters in the series.  A true Sookie aficionado would probably have gotten more out of the stories than I did, but I really enjoyed them and am now more eager to tackle the actual novels, which I plan to do in very short order.

This book was a very quick read -- I read it in one day, which is not hard, even though I am one of the slowest readers in the universe.  Each story comes in at around 5,000 words, so they are easily digestible nuggets.

The stories themselves run the gamut from basic detective-style stories with a twist ("Fairy Dust," about the murder of a fairy by dreaded lemon juice, and "Dracula Night," which concerns a stranger who says he is Dracula, but may not be) to an interesting Christmas story involving werewolves ("Gift Wrap").  The other two stories in the collection, "One Word Answer," and "Lucky," were also fun and not at all run-of-the-mill stories.

I borrowed this book from my local library (part of the 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge) and it occurred to me after I finished it that that was really the only way I would have read it.  Not being a Sookie Stackhouse devotee, I probably would not have taken a chance on this book in a bookstore.  It's a very small book that has a list price of $23.95.  To be honest, that has always irked me.  Shouldn't the size of the book be somehow related to the price one pays for it?  I know the publisher is probably trying to capitalize on the popularity of this series and the new HBO series based on it -- there was an extremely prominent "True Blood" sticker pasted on the cover.  I also know that some of the costs of book production and distribution are essentially the same no matter the size of the book.  But please!  This kind of pricing is just the tiniest bit ridiculous.

OK, soapbox mode off!  I do recommend the book to anyone, and it is especially recommended to those who have already read some or all of the novels.