Monday, June 7, 2010

Bullet by Laurell K Hamilton

The music came back up and the next group of little girls, slightly older, came out. There was a lot of that in the next hour and change. I liked dance, and it was no reflection on the kids, but my will to live began to seep away on about the fifth group of sequined children...

Anita Blake is back in St. Louis and trying to live a normal life-as normal as possible for someone who is a legal vampire executioner and a U. S. Marshal. There are lovers, friends and their children, school programs to attend. In the midst of all the ordinary happiness a vampire from Anita's past reaches out. She was supposed to be dead, killed in an explosion, but the Mother of All Darkness is the first vampire, their dark creator. It's hard to kill a god. This dark goddess has reached out to her here-in St. Louis, home of everyone Anita loves most. The Mother of All Darkness has decided she has to act now or never, to control Anita, and all the vampires in America.

The Mother of All Darkness believes that the triumvirate created by master vampire Jean-Claude with Anita and the werewolf Richard Zeeman has enough power for her to regain a body and to immigrate to the New World. But the body she wants to possess is already taken. Anita is about to learn a whole new meaning to sharing her body, one that has nothing to do with the bedroom. And if the Mother of All Darkness can't succeed in taking over Anita's body for herself, she means to see that no one else has the use of it, ever again. Even Belle Morte, not always a friend to Anita, has sent word: "Run if you can..."

Let me start out by saying that I know the Anita Blake series has become a bone of contention for a lot of readers. It started out with one particular vibe and as Laurell K Hamilton changed as a person and an author, her books changed too. They became less centered on the mystery; instead they were more paranormal and more centered on Anita, her relationships, and the magic that helped bind them all together.

While there might have been specific books in the series I didn't like as much as others, on the whole I didn't have a problem with the tonal shift in the series. It worked for me and since I liked the additional characters any concerns I might have felt ironed themselves out pretty quickly.

There's a LOT of back story to the Anita Blake books but I'm going to try to write this review without it being too confusing. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I'm happy to explain more if it helps!

I feel that this book is one of the best that Hamilton has released for this series in a little while. The book has two main focuses: 1) exploring more Anita's relationship with the men around her and how they relate to her powers 2) setting up a new story arc of Anita/Jean-Claude/Richard's future confrontation with the Mother of All Darkness. What this translates to, for a series filled with characters whose powers depend on a lot of their emotional states, are a frequent number of scenes depicting interpersonal instead of situational conflict. Asher's feelings toward Jean-Claude, Richard's toward himself and Anita and Jean-Claude, Anita with her own unique triad - it's all explored. The violence that erupts, the battles that happen, all take place within that framework. What I like about the book is that I see Anita and the men (and women) around her grow as people; sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. Like a lot of urban fantasy series being done right now, it's hard for the hero/heroine to protect those around them if they're not sometimes willing to make the less 'clean' choice.

Here are some general warnings for people who are looking to pick up the book (no spoilers, but you are being warned):

1) There isn't really a murder mystery that Anita works on in this novel
2) However you want to say it, there is another male added to Anita's group. Feel how you feel about it, but it happens
3) There is still a good bit of explicit sex in this book. There's also a lot of vampire politics and 'woo-woo' stuff going on around it, but the sex didn't go anywhere.
4) For people who are somewhat squeamish about same-sex partner relations (hahaha, I'm so PC) there are some scenes in this book that are going to bother you: M/M and F/F pops up a few times

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. I can tell that this is a book focused more on story building, but I think the character development and action scenes are well written enough to excite me about what's coming next anyway.

Series - ...... 16) Blood Noir 17) Skin Trade 18) Flirt 19) Bullet