Charlaine Harris’ The Complete Sookie Stackhouse Stories

complete sookieAlrighty, Sookie fans that think they’ve got every single thing The Mighty Harris has written about our girl.  I can almost hear you thinking “Wait, what’s new here?”  Seriously, y’all think way too loud.  Try to tone it down, will you?  And listen up, because Complete is definitely a book you’ll want to add to your library.

Why? What’s the difference between this book versus The Sookie Stackhouse Companion and the last Sookie compilation A Touch of Dead? Think of Complete as the book that gathers the stories from both these books, and includes four more from other multiple-author anthologies.  It’s also got new introductions to each story with bits about how and why she wrote each one, and where each story fits within the whole Southern Vampire chronology.  I’ve got A Touch of Dead on my bookshelf, and I’m happy to put this new book right next to it.  And I’ve gotta get on picking up a copy of Companion.  But enough about me.

I’ve missed the snappy dialog and fun between character snark. And I’ve really missed Pam, the droll second in command at the vampire bar Fangtasia. It’s good to be back in Bon Temps y’all. Reading these stories felt like I was slipping on my favorite pair of jean shorts, and settling into my front porch swing. Fans of Sookie will definitely feel the same. A tall cool glass of sweet tea is optional, but highly encouraged.

If, like me, you’ve been wanting more Bon Temps? You can easily blow through these stories in a day. Or you can dole them out to yourself and linger. Me, I’ve never been one of those willpower folks.

A few of my particular favorites? I enjoyed them all, but here’s a taste:

*Fairy Dust – for fans of Claudine and Claude, this whodunit is one of my favorite Sookie shorts, and the first one I ever read. It’s also the first I ever read, back when it first made its appearance in the collection Powers of Detection.  Harris almost goes Full RobertBloch with this whodunit…I’m only sad that I couldn’t read more about the fairy triplets as a unit.  Ah well.

*Dracula Night – What’s a short story collection starring Louisiana’s favorite vampire buddy without a hint of Drac? And plenty of Pam’s biting (sorry) wit. More would be spoiling things, but let’s just say it’s worth the price of admission because Eric.

*Gift Wrap – though Harris calls this story “creepy”, I thought it was sweet. Without spoiling the tale, let’s just say that an attempt to honor a holiday season – be it bumbling, perfect, or both – always warms my heart.

*Small-Town Wedding – in Harris’ only Southern Vampire novella, Sookie accompanies boss/shifter friend Sam to Sam’s hometown for his brother’s wedding. When they get there, the town’s fear of “twofers” has been stoked to hatred…and that’s just the beginning. Though cameos from characters in earlier books make this page-turner of a story feel lighter, the themes here hit hard.

*If I Had a Hammer – the closest thing to a stand alone story here. My only question? Is the babysitter’s name Quiana Woods (pg 275), or Quiana Wong(pg 285, and in a later tale)? Can’t help it, name edit hiccups pull me out of stories. Otherwise, it’s a great little supernatural mystery story that introduces a character I’d like to see more of.

*Playing Possum – a lovely look at how Sookie’s gift can sometimes be a good thing. Sookie visits her nephew (really her 2nd cousin) Hunter at school on a no good very bad day. I love the way these two interact, and the climax is more “Sookie nearby” than “Mary Sue to the rescue”, thank goodness. Harris has no problem letting others characters do the heavy lifting, and I love that about her stories. With the Southern Vampire Mysteries, Sookie is a part of her town, rather than the town revolving around her. Paranormal authors who go all-in on the Mary Sue thing and disappoint me greatly, you know who you are.

*In the Blue Hereafter – series intersect! Sookie meets Manfred from Harris’ Midnight, Texas stories! This story is told from Manfred’s POV, which is a refreshing change.  No, I love the typical Sookie POV, but it’s fun to read a story from someone who’s trying to figure her out. Plus, I’m a huge fan of the Midnight, Texas television series and have been meaning to dig into Manfred’s books.  This is a perfect start.

So if you’re looking for a bittersweet look at everyone’s favorite vampire magnet, look no further.  Bittersweet?  Yes.  Because Harris has wrapped on Sookie and Co., so while Complete is a joy to read, it also serves as a reminder that we all must move on.  No, dangit!  I’m going to read this again.  So there.

(ACE, 2017)

Denise Kitashima Dutton

Denise Kitashima Dutton has been a reviewer since 2003, and hopes to get the hang of things any moment now. She believes that bluegrass is *not* hell in music form, and that beer is better when it's a nitro pour. Besides GMR, you can find her at Atomic Fangirl, Movie-Blogger.com, or at that end seat at the bar, multi-tasking with her Kindle.

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