The Untimely Demise of Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter

Let me begin by saying that the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series by Laurell K. Hamilton was once my ultimate, all-time favorite.  So much, that when the Southern Vampire Series was optioned for an HBO series (hello, True Blood), I remember feeling that Anita Blake had been overlooked.  I didn’t blame HBO, I blamed the author.

If you aren’t familiar with this series but you love vampire fiction, you really should try them and start at the beginning with Guilty Pleasures.  For the first 9 books, you’ll find truly exceptional plots starring a tough, wry heroine who raises zombies for a living and works for the police on the side, putting her firmly in between humanity and the monsters.  These books have everything; mystery, romance, drama, and of course, blood, guts, and all the scary beasts you can imagine.  Each book is better than the one before.

At least, until book 10, Narcissus in Chains.  Then it becomes porn.

Of course, if that’s what you’re into then that’s fine.  But these are very light on plot, with a quick turn for the heroine from a woman with a strict Christian background and sexual hangups to someone who has sex with almost every stranger who crosses her path.  Practically every scene is a sex scene, and that’s only part of the problem.  The first 9 books show Anita struggling with unwelcome feelings for the local vampire Master of the City and, after book 3 (Circus of the Damned, fantastic story), a powerful but troubled werewolf.  Don’t worry, nothing Twilight about it.  The sexual tension builds between them slowly, with a lot of feelings and inner turmoil involved.

Then in Narcissus in Chains, Anita is suddenly bestowed with a “power” that forces her to “feed off of sex”, whatever that means.  Off the bat, she has sex with a stranger and a previously abused, much younger, former male-prostitute named Nathaniel that she’d rescued in a previous novel, Burnt Offerings.  Beyond this novel she starts having sex with almost all the other powerful men that she knows and/or meets.  I know that characters in long-term series need room to grow and change, yet this new Anita is IMO completely incomparable with her previous self.

Even if you could look beyond the drastic character change, the plots have gone down the tubes.  The  police don’t trust the new Anita and her harem so there are no more crimes for her to solve, which had always been a big part of the original 9 stories.  Her regular job as a zombie raiser is forgotten  for the most part, for no real reason that I can see.  Most of the books deal with long distance “psychic attacks” from European monsters or Anita fighting off animals in her head, and the solution to and/or result of both problems usually involves Anita having sex with more friends and strangers.

So why do I keep reading them?  Because the first 9 books were so fantastic that I guess part of me is still waiting for the old Anita, the old Laurell K. Hamilton in fact, to resurface.  But you can bet I’ve stopped buying them; library or nothing for me.

All and all, I will always recommend this series, despite the eventual flatline. The replacements that I’ve found since can only pale in comparison with this series’ original potential.

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11 Comments »

  1. Amber Said:

    I have to completely agree with you but the end of the series for me was Skin Trade. Since then I have neither purchased a book or even borrowed from the library. Her series is more than dead to me. I think in part because every sex component now isn’t personal. She just does the deed to feed her beast and all the romance is gone from it, not to mention the plot.

    Liked your opinion of the series.

  2. OttoChick Said:

    Thanks 🙂

    I actually read Bullet (SPOILER ALERT). I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself, it is the reading equivalent of sex with a toxic ex: I know I’ll regret it before I start.

    The worst part about it is she referenced all the old books, which made me so sad. She helped police for 3 pages or so and I was shocked to find myself engrossed…then it gets back to the sex. I have to put a stop to this. It’s never going to be good again.

  3. LePetiteDeviante Said:

    I know i’m about 7 months late on the conversation (sorry) ,i just finished reading Burnt Offerings , and now i have read your opinion and i’m so disappointed. I was so looking forward for the next books, finally i have found a book series with salt & pepper (how you said , romance,action,drama…everything) and i must admit i was exited when i saw it had 20 books (the 21th coming out in june 2012) because i figured it would last me a few months till i finish , because i read like a maniac when i like something, so every book ends to soon.
    Anyway the real motive of me writing this is asking if you can recommend me some other series similar ? Thanks in advance …

    • OttoChick Said:

      Hey there Deviante 🙂 I feel for you…IMO, you have about two more good books to go. Blue Moon was my absolute favorite of all of them, and Obsidian Butterfly is an action-packed Edward-fangirl fun fest. After them, Hamilton will destroy all your favorite characters for you. 😦 As for similar series, well, you’ve come to the right person because I read all the Urban Fantasy I can find in search of a good Anita-replacement. While I’ve yet to find a series to equal hers, I’ve picked up some new favorites that come close. For a heroine who is tough but soft-hearted with a sense of humor, I like the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Kim Harrison’s Hollows series is my current favorite, though heroine Rachel Morgan got on my nerves sometimes in the first few books with her penchant for risky choices. Despite that, it’s an exciting series and be wary that Harrison is not afraid to kill off series regulars to further the story. Be afraid! 😉 Let’s see, there’s the Sookie Stackhouse series that I mentioned in the post. They’re good books, though I do feel like the TV series managed to improve the stories in a lot of ways. Beyond those favorites, here’s a link to a list I posted of various series and whether I recommend them: https://ottothefangirl.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/paranormal-books-and-series-best-to-worst/

      I hope this is helpful. Those books I mentioned are fantastic, but I don’t know if there will ever be another Anita Blake.

      • LePetiteDeviante Said:

        Thank you , it was helpful. I started reading Blue Moon and i understand why you say it’s your favorite, it’s pretty cool. I most certainly will check out the books you mentioned. I kid you not , this was the best book recommendation i’ve gotten in a long while, so thanks.

    • Crystal Said:

      I know that my reply is also extremely late for this conversation, but I just had to say that if you are a fan of Anita Blake, not only is Patricia Briggs right up your alley, but you will also love Janiene Frosts’ Night Huntress series. Those books are at the top of my favorite reads, tied with Mercy Thompson and above Anita Blake.

      • Cece Said:

        Here I am late to the party too! Here are some great reads as well.

        J.R Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood
        Karen Marie Moring’s Fever Series (only has 4 books in the series)

      • OttoChick Said:

        Thanks Crystal, my reply is even later! I ADORE Patricia Briggs, she and Kim Harrison are my favorites. I tried Janiene Frost, but maybe it’s time for another look.

  4. Shanna Lacey Nichole Chandler Said:

    I am reading the latest book Affliction and am getting kinda annoyed by all the lovey dovey crap with Nathaniel and somewhat with Micah. though not as much. Anita’s sexual hangups in the beginning were really obnoxious and irritating. The whole point of Anita turning into a sexual deviant was so she could later have a moment of realization that she wasn’t herself anymore. If you cant enjoy any aspect of every book, then you probably shouldn’t be reading them period. Unless you have an open mind when you go into each and every book you won’t enjoy it and should probably stick to books a little less adult.

    • OttoChick Said:

      If I don’t like any aspect? I like plot, which this series used to have. I liked the crime mysteries that Anita solved and the monsters she fought hand to hand, I liked the detailed descriptions of her packing heat and giving attitude, fighting her short female way through a male dominated world, and her self-deprecating inner monologues. No, I don’t think nonstop magic sex constitutes plot, or the crayola cartoon animals that live in Anita’s head. I don’t care which wolf wins his fight with the other brain wolf or what tiger likes her to fuck which new random character. And if in fact those aspects were there for Anita to eventually realize that she’d lost herself, then it took too many books for her to do it before she lost a giant chunk of fan base. No, opening my mind will not make these books interesting–thanks for the mildly insulting advice, but as I said in my post, I already gave up on this series.

  5. Kris Said:

    Here I am, about 4 years late to this party, but I have to agree with you on this. It was such a disappointment to see Hamilton sacrifice plot in favor of sex. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good smut novel as much as the next lady, but after having started the series with such well-rounded characters, it’s a major let down to see them reduced to actors in a cheap porn flick. I read up to The Harlequin before I gave up on it. Haven’t read an Anita novel since, save for the occasional nostalgic rereading of my favorites such as Obsidian Butterfly. I even tried reading Hamilton’s Anita offshoot the Merry Gentry series. I got about three chapters into A Kiss of Shadows before I lost interest. I hope Hamilton gets it together one day.


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