Friday, December 30, 2011

The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-town Southern girl living in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She and her brother, Jason, have lived there all their lives, but when a vampire named Bill Compton, who once lived in the town before the Civil War, returns to claim his old family house, Sookie, who has the unusual talent of reading minds, gets drawn into Bill's life, and vampire business and concerns as the Supernatural creatures who live in the area simply refuse to leave her alone.

In a short story called "Small Town Wedding", Sookie and her boss, Shifter Sam Merlotte travel to his home town of Wright, Texas, for the wedding of Sam's brother Eric to his love, Deidra. But the wedding has stirred up a lot of bad feeling in the town, not only from the Merlotte's next door neighbor, Jim Collins, but from a whole bunch of people who are upset about Shifters coming out and being accepted as citizens. Jim tries to intimidate the Merlottes and Sookie, but fails.

The next morning, she finds that he has set up a sign in the front yard, reading "Dogs belong in the Pound", and Sookie, knowing this means something bad, runs to the Pound to find all the dogs shot and slaughtered. This raises the attention and ire of the local shifters, and some not so local as well. When Sookie returns to the Merlotte's house, she takes action, removing the sign from the lawn and planting it on the lawn of Jim Collins, while yelling at him that he's nothing but a murderer. But he doesn't come out of his house or do anything else.

The shapeshifters from the town and the surrounding area come and protect the Merlottes as they attend church in the morning, then return home to get changed for the wedding. More shifters arrive, and a mob gathers in front of the Merlotte house to try and disrupt the wedding by throwing rocks and red paint on the cars of the wedding party. But the shifters take the lead and get the party to the wedding. Only Sookie is sure she sees a very familiar woman in the mob- the wife of the Leader of the former Fellowship of the Sun. Sarah Newlin. But is this most wanted woman really there in Wright, and if she is, could she have anything to do with the mob raised up against Eric and his fiancée?

After the short story, the book continues on with a day by day breakdown of what happens in each book of the series and puts the short stories in order, along with a look at the conversations between Bill and Eric, an interview of Charlaine Harris, a listing of her earlier works, and several sets of interviews and reader questions. The book ends with a listing of every character ever mentioned in one of the books and short stories, which is well over 75 pages.

I liked the new story, and the rest of the stuff in the book was very interesting- the list of every single character in the series, either appearing or mentioned, was incredibly impressive. Sookie's entry, however, was almost a reiteration of the beginning of the book, where they list, by day, what went on in every book, just because she is the viewpoint character. The only difference is that it doesn't give the numbers for the date.

Some of the other stuff, like the woman who ran Charlaine Harris' fan club, was actually interesting, as she talked about becoming friends with Charlaine, and about how they spread the word about her and her world, and I loved looking at the recipies donated by the readers and meant to be from the characters in the stories, but at the same time, I don't read books for the recipes, as there are plenty of authors who do that, and I think it cheapened the book a little.

I liked this book a lot, and there is a lot of stuff in the book to like. While not every section really appealed to me, reading the story behind how Charlaine got the series published (there was a big question as to whether it would get published at all, since it was rejected by so many publishers) was one of my favorite parts. Other readers are sure to have others. Highly recommended.

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