Guilty Pleasures. Even the title sounds like a soft-porn Harlequin Romance novel. Ironically enough the main character is a pure, almost virginal character. At least for this book and the four or five that follow in the series. The first time I read Guilty Pleasures, I had no idea I was reading what I now see as one of the first mainstream paranormal romance genre. I was just picking it up because my then toddler daughter literally knocked it off the shelf at my local library. I took it home and remember devouring it in a single sitting and running back to the library to get the next few in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series.
Anita Blake may be small and young, but vampires call her the Executioner. Anita is a necromancer and vampire hunter in a time when vampires are protected by law—as long as they don’t get too nasty. Now someone’s killing innocent vampires and Anita agrees—with a bit of vampiric arm-twisting—to help figure out who and why.
Trust is a luxury Anita can’t afford when her allies aren’t human. The city’s most powerful vampire, Nikolaos, is 1,000 years old and looks like a 10-year-old girl. The second most powerful vampire, Jean-Claude, is interested in more than just Anita’s professional talents, but the feisty necromancer isn’t playing along—yet. This popular series has a wild energy and humor, and some very appealing characters—both dead and alive.
In the first of this series, written by Laurell K. Hamilton, we are introduced to Anita Blake, Animator by vocational calling and profession, Vampire Slayer by… Hobby? Necessity? Hamilton’s series takes place mainly in an alternate St. Louis. Vampires and other non-humans are known entities, if not accepted and beloved ones. Anita works with the division of the police force dedicated to the less-than-human population, though they’ve found themselves unable to figure out just who – or what- is killing vampires all over the city.
It isn’t until the thousand-year-old Master of the City, in her twelve-year-old child-like body, forces her to solve the case that Anita is afraid for her life. Nikolaos is no sweet and sassy Shirley Temple. She is cold, calculating and vindictive. Jean-Claude, who owns Guilty Pleasures, a local vampire strip club, saves both his and Anita’s lives by marking her with the first two of four marks that turn a human into a vampire slave. This has the unfortunate effect of allowing them to invade each other’s minds.
An interesting ensemble of supporting characters wrap up the cast of Guilty Pleasures: Anita’s boss Bert, Edward the bounty hunter, and plenty of zombies, ghouls and were-rats (oh my!). All together, it made for a rather intriguing read. It suffers a little bit of the series debut-itis curse, but not enough to stop me from running out the next day and reading on.
The story is told from Anita’s point of view, and she portrays herself in a very likable, feminine-but-tough sort of way. She often punctuates her thoughts with sarcastic remarks (“…they didn’t find the knife strapped to my ankle. Bully for me!”), which does its intended job of making the reader relate more to Ms. Blake.
My final recommendation is this: it isn’t great literature, but it’s a very decent story. Considering that many consider this the beginning of this genre we all love and adore, if you haven’t read the series yet, you really owe it to yourself to do so.
The Laughing Corpse
Circus Of The Damned
The Lunatic Cafe
The Killing Dance
Narcissus In Chains
Also reviewed by:
Jackie’s review on Literary Escapism, Wondrous Reads, Story Wings, Xenophobic Bibliophile, Mel’s Random Reviews and Book Lovers Inc
I really liked this book and after reading it, I inhaled the rest of the series. I read them before I was blogging, so I’ve never reviewed any of them. I keep telling myself that I’m going to, but I think of all the changes that happen after the ardeur hits, and I get depressed all over again.
The series may have helped kick off the paranormal romance genre (or at least helped bring it to where it is today) but the books really started out more as urban fantasy to me, much more focused on the mystery that needed solving. I believe I made it through Cerulean Sins or Incubus Dreams before giving up. I know I never read Micah, despite having it on the shelf.
I had enjoyed the supernatural beings/world and the mysteries that Anita had to solve. Then the books seemed to make a fairly swift change to focus on the sex and the escapism I can only assume LKH desired through her own writing.
I was largely attracted to the series by the synopsis and the wonderful cover art by Luis Royo that was on the Science Fiction Book Club omnibuses.
Wonderful write up and another series to add to my list. Thanks.
Actually couldn’t resist. Just downloaded it to my nook. *sigh*
Guilty pleasures was pretty awesome. However, I always get annoyed when I think of the later books.Blah, the quality really starts to go down hill, but I’m glad you like this one. lol =D
I loved the dark plot of the first 4 books. It borders on horror. And you are right. It was so different from anything out there when it came out. It is worth the read.
“Narcissus in Chains” killed it for me :(
Like Spaz, I bought the SFBC omnibus collections with the gorgeous Luis Royo covers.
I think Bloody Bones is where the series started heading downhill fast for me. As soon as Anita started having sex with anyone and anything. Even before she got hit by the ardeur. I keep reading out of loyalty to the first handful of books that I really did think were great.
The middle three are the worse, in terms of sex and whatnot. Narcissis in Chains, Cerulean Sins and Incubus Dreams tend to be more erotic than anything, but once you get past these (or just skip them, you won’t miss that much), the story gets a little better.
I think Anita simply gets blindsided by the ardeur and doesn’t know how to really co-exist with it. Her first instinct is to fight anything she doesn’t like and the ardeur was never a fight she could’ve won. It’s a part of JC and now her since she’s tied to him. In this instance, I find Anita to be a lot like Richard (the whiny bitch, sorry, the farther along I got in the series, the more I dislike him), but I love how the ardeur has made her grow up and realize a lot of things.
Honestly, don’t focus so much on the ardeur (and thus all the sex), but on the dialogue that is always there during the sex. The dialogue is where the good stuff is.
Besides the sex that I still think took over the good storytelling, I found myself getting annoyed as the books went along with how Anita is super-chick. She’s the first of practically everything. I’m not going to remember the correct terms now, and I’m too tired to go and look it all up, but she’s the first head of every were tribe out there, she’s the first human to have a vampire servant, etc. It eventually got on my nerves a bit.
Still… a thousand times better than the Merry Gentry series. I remember reading a 70+ page sex scene in one of those books.