Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Series Review: Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series

Whaddya know?  Another vampire/werewolf love triangle series!  Okay, by the tenth book it's more like a love hexagon with aspirations of becoming a dodecahedron, but you get my point.
Written by Laurell K. Hamilton (, the series is dark and twisted.
Series Overview:  The series begins as a cross between a murder mystery and supernatural fiction.  I'm not a huge mystery fan, but the supernatural element gave it that extra zing.
Anita is a self proclaimed tough cookie and I'm not going to argue. She kicks a lot of supernatural ass.  Living in St Louis in an alternate reality where vampires and shapeshifters not only exist, but are publicly acknowledged, Anita is an official "Vampire Hunter" commissioned by the government for those times when you just have to deal with those pesky vampires.  Was your daughter bitten and murdered by vampires?  Want to make sure she doesn't rise as one of the living dead?  Who do you call?  Ghostbus…er…Anita Blake!  She'll come and stake your little princess and send her back to the afterlife.  Minimal fees are involved.
But that's just her day job.  At night she is an animator.  Dad forget to let anyone know the combination to the family safe before he died?  No problem.  Anita to the rescue!  For a nominal charge, she'll animate your father's corpse and let you ask him any question your little heart desires.  Sending him back to his grave is included in the fee.  What a bargain!
As if being a vampire hunter and animator weren't enough, she also freelances for the local supernatural police task force.  Because of her experience in the supernatural, she is often called in on a consultant basis for some of the goriest crime scenes you'll ever read about.  She can easily discern whether a body was disemboweled by a vampire, ghoul or shapeshifter with a glance.
The combination of all of her professions makes for a very interesting murder mystery.  
Ever prepared, Anita goes nowhere without packing heat and carrying an assortment of knives.  She even sleeps with a special gun holster on her headboard so she isn't found helpless in her bed.  A girl has to be careful ya know.  Guns don't kill supernatural creatures, but her theory is that it'll slow them down enough to either kill them using some other method or to run away.
This series is still continuing, with two more on the way in 2010 alone.  Due to the large number of books in this series, I won't get into them individually, but will list them in order at the bottom.  (There are also a number of short stories and graphic novels/comics.  For the purposes of this review, I'm focusing on the novels.)
1. Guilty Pleasures – 1993
2. The Laughing Corpse – 1994
3. Circus of the Damned – 1995
4. The Lunatic Café – 1996
5. Bloody Bones – 1996
6. The Killing Dance – 1997
7. Burnt Offerings – 1998
8. Blue Moon – 1998
9. Obsidian Butterfly – 2000
10. Narcissus in Chains – 2001
11. Cerulean Sins – 2003
12. Incubus Dreams – 2004
13. Michah – 2006
14. Danse Macabre – 2006
15. The Harlequin – 2007
16. Blood Noir – 2008
17. Skin Trade – 2009
18. Flirt – February 2010
19. Bullet – June 2010

In my opinion, the first 4 books are the best in the series.  Books 4 through 6 start to build romantic/sexual tension with a continuing love triangle plot line.  Until book 6 there are no sex scenes at all.  Until book 10, the sex scenes are detailed, but rare; focus still being on the mystery at hand.  Book 10 and all the ones after are highly sexual and let's just say that the author is creative.
In the first books, the author tried to outdo herself with gory descriptions of horrific crime scenes.  Each book had even more blood and body parts than the previous.  After book 10, the author tries to outdo herself with graphic sex scenes that involve multiple partners, magic and the occasional bestiality.
Needless to say, this series is not for anyone with a weak stomach.
Book #13 is really a novella, even though they charge the same price (which really burns me up just on principle alone).  It doesn't even move the overall plot ahead.  If you are interested in the Michah character, it's a little bit more about his background.  If you don't care, feel free to skip it.  You won't be missing anything.
During the last few books there are some quite heavy and serious ongoing plots.  However, several of them end suddenly and anti-climactically.  I was so surprised that I had to re-read the passages a couple times to make sure what I thought happened, really did happen.  It was very disappointing.
Other Thoughts:  I think that sometimes, the old love triangle element does more harm than good.  It's exciting and intriguing in the beginning, but by the end, it's stale and emotionally draining.  Which is what I feel like after reading the later books, stale and emotionally drained.
I often feel like screaming, "Just have sex or break up already!"  I keep reading the new books in hopes that some of those plots will be resolved, but they just keep dragging on and on.
I think this is a series that started out very good, but it needs to be put out of its misery.  As of now, it's dying a slow and painful death..
Conclusion:  I highly recommend the first 5 to 6 books.  After that, you're on your own.  I got hooked on the world and my OCD kicked in until I read every book.  I can't say that I enjoyed the later ones, because after I finished each book, I felt like I needed to take a break.

1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

Just an update. Flirt did come out and yes, it's only a novella but yet selling at the price of novel. That annoys me. From what I understand of the plot, it can be skipped much like Micah without missing too much.

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