A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
Published by Gollancz
Out 29th October 2009 in Hardback
The things I knew about Sookie Stackhouse before reading A Touch of Dead could have just about managed to fill the back of a postage stamp. I knew that it was the basis for the TV series TrueBlood. I knew that the books themselves are very popular and that they had vampires in them. I also thought that I wouldn’t like them so I didn’t open the copy of Dead Until Dark. It’s quite amazing how you can set your mind against something you haven’t even read.
Though the jury is still out on the other big vampire series, to quote Simon Pegg,
Read the Twilight books on hols. Really enjoyed them in a sort of ‘creepy old man reading delusional, horny, daughter’s diary’ way.
I just don’t think I’m really interested in doing that.
Anyway back to A Touch of Dead, which isn’t a novel but a collection of five Sookie Stackhouse stories rather than a collection of stories by Charlaine Harris that have nothing to do with each other. I find short story collections on the whole tough the read the only other one I’ve read recently that I’ve enjoyed was another linked collection though that was more set around the same universe than the same characters.
Both served the same purpose, to introduce me to the authors and their creations. I learned a lot about Sookie Stackhouse from each of the five stories, there isn’t a dud out of any of them. I’m not saying they are going to win any prices either. Harris has wonderful way of storytelling don’t get me wrong but there isn’t anything that deep in them.
And they might not be substantial for hardcore fans because they filled me in on a lot of the gaps in my Stackhouse knowledge so they might be a little too sparse for someone that remembers all the details and wants more depth.
Of the five, Harris tells us in the introduction where four of them can be placed in accordance the to timeline, the fifth has Dracula (or so he says) in it so is allowed to be take place in its own time
TrueBlood comes across as a quite well thought out. The vampire interrogation into society is interesting, the other supernatural characters that aren’t so open are interesting too. Harris manages to breath life into each of the characters (if you’ll excuse the pun) and none of them feels out of place.
The most interesting character is Sookie, which is lucky as she’s the main one, the fact that she can read minds and how she does it is brilliantly illustrated in the opening ‘Fairy Dust’ and ‘Lucky’.
Harris injects a sense of enjoyment and fun in her writing making A Touch of Dead a quick and immensely pleasurable read. I’m probably late on-board this one. If you want to see if Sookie Stackouse is for you this collection is highly recommended and if you’re a fan I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading them though you might find them a little sparse if you go into them thinking you’re going to find some silver bullet that’s going to change your perceptions.
A brilliant example of how an author should do a short story collection. I’m now going to put Dead Until Dusk high on the TBR pile