(Jump down to read a review of The Laughing Corpse)
(Jump down to read a review of Guilty Pleasures)
(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie JUL 31, 2005)
Cerulean Sins is the eleventh book in Laurell Hamilton's "Anita Blake Vampire Hunter" series. These are amazing novels, but I want to emphasize that the degree of enjoyment one gets from them depends on a level of familiarity with Anita Blake and cohorts. These are not stand-alone books. Author Hamilton has developed her characters over a period of eleven-plus years, and one should read at least a few of her early works, beginning with Guilty Pleasures, before tackling Cerulean Sins. Action-packed and plot driven though the books may be, knowledge of the characters, and their growth, is essential for maximum appreciation.
Narcissus In Chains, the novel prior to this one, was a pivotal point in the series, where some tension, built over a long period, was relieved and crucial decisions were made concerning the direction of Ms. Blake's life. Anita achieved the level of master necromancer, enhanced her status as human servant to Jean-Claude, and acquired a vampire servant of her very own, Damian. She has also become Bolverk of the Thronnos Rokke Clan, Nimir-Ra, (with her own Nimira-Raj - Micah), of the Blooddrinkers Pard, and a lycanthrope politician, of sorts. Anita, Jean-Claude, the Vampire Master, and Werewolf Ulfric, Richard Zeeman, finally married their forces and have become a triumvirate, powerfully tied to one another. Anita merged her blood and her being with two extremely vital creatures, for whom blood lust and sex are major motivators. The two preternaturals took on a touch of Anita's humanity in this exchange, and she, in turn, has become more otherworldly - her sexuality included - especially the part inherited from Jean-Claude. He has within him elements of an incubus, and is able to feed off sexual energy. Anita now has this same capacity and need, called the "ardeur." She is not able to control this drive yet and needs to have a trusted man around to allow her to feed when the urge overcomes her. Needless to say, the concept of monogamy is kaput, at least for the time being. She also possesses an inner-beast, as does Richard. Her ability to deal with an overabundance of additional superhuman features is just another stage in her development. Laurell Hamilton has made a courageous decision to take her protagonist over the dangerous terrain she now travels. She is definitely pushing the envelope. This is a crossroads for Blake fans, as well as for Ms. Blake. Ultimately Anita had to deal with making a decision about Jean-Claude and Richard, and either accept her growing preternaturalism, the merger and its consequences, or look for another career.
Cerulean Sins begins in a relatively low-keyed manner. Leo Harlan, a new client whose job description reads "assassin" meets with Anita and hires her to raise a dead ancestor for genealogical purposes. Hah! That same evening she has cemetery duty, to reanimate a man thought to have been a suicide. For insurance purposes, Anita needs to interview the corpse with a judge, insurance agent, former wife, and various others as witnesses to determine whether the family is entitled to receive insurance money. Vampire Asher, second-in-command to Jean-Claude, arrives as the zombie-raising ceremony is concluding. A major emergency has arisen - so what else is new?
Belle Mort, the 2000 year-old fountainhead, "le sourdre de sang," of Jean-Claude's and Asher's bloodline, and member of the all powerful Council of Vampires, had scheduled a visit to St. Louis for three months in the future. The Master of the City, and everyone connected to him, are responsible for wining, dining, (she thrives on blood, sex and fear), and doing everything possible for La Belle Mort and her entourage. Displeasing her could mean death or serious long-term torture. However, no one is allowed to harm this Queen of vamps - no matter what she does. She is their mother and their liege lady. Mussette, one of her lieutenants, has arrived early, on purpose, to wreck havoc. Mussette has some unreasonable demands, (of course), including the return of Asher to Europe and La Belle's lair. The only way he can be saved is for him to become the third member of a menage which includes Anita and Jean-Claude. Hmmm. What will Anita, the former Miss Priss decide?
On another front, a series of hideous murders are being committed in St. Louis, and although Anita has been called to work the case, her longtime mentor and former dear friend Lt. Dolph Storr, seems to hate her for her intimate contact with the preternatural set, especially the vampires. Then problems arise with Richard, and the allegiance of his werewolves, whose back-up is especially needed during the visit of Belle Morte and Mussette. The action is totally non-stop, as are the multitude of conflicts and dilemmas Anita must confront in her personal life.
Laurell Hamilton is one of the best storytellers around. I have now read eleven Anita books, and I rarely read series novels. The plots are spectacular. The labyrinthine vampire and lycanthrope politics makes US election brouhahas look like child's play. The characters are some of the most fascinating and complex that I have encountered in fantasy fiction. They have all grown and changed tremendously since book #1. The author's humor is often dark, but hilarious. I can't wait to read Incubus Dreams, the 12th and last published Anita Blake novel. On the other hand, I am reluctant to begin it, because the 13th book won't be out until 2006. I highly recommend Cerulean Sins, and every other book in this extraordinary collection.
- Amazon readers rating: from 350 reviews
(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie JUL 15, 2005)
Anita Blake, Executioner, necromancer, lover and human servant to Jean-Claude - the charismatic Master Vampire of St. Louis, lupa of the Thronnus Roke Clan lukoi, and Nimir-ra of a pard of leopard lycanthropes, is changing...more so all the time. When Laurell Hamilton introduced her to us in Guilty Pleasures, Book One of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, she was a 24 year-old, smart, attractive, feisty, super-independent dynamo, who raised the dead for a living. She was almost a normal 21st century career girl. Of course she staked rogue vampires as a sideline, but we all have our quirks. Anita's preternatural powers have been steadily increasing, and in Blue Moon, book eight in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, the lines are really beginning to blur between her humanity and the supernatural. Always an uncompromising and tough lady, she has developed a hardness, a detachment, that frightens even herself.
Anita, Richard Zeeman, (an alpha werewolf and her old boyfriend), and Jean-Claude, (her present lover), had formed a Triumvirate of power - Master Vampire, Ulfric and necromancer. In other words, when the three connect, they exude tremendous force and are able to do much more magic than any one or two can do alone. The three are still bound to each other, even though Richard is furious with Anita for dumping him. She had to choose between "a flesh eater and a bloodsucker." Do you see a pattern here?
Late one evening Anita receives a phone call from Richard's brother. Zeeman had been spending the summer in Meyerton, Tennessee, studying the Lesser Smokey Mountain Trolls which live in the area, and fulfilling the requirements for his Masters degree. He has been arrested for the rape of a local women, and is obviously innocent of the charge. Richard is squeaky clean, the ultimate Boy Scout, and very gentle, especially for a lycanthrope. To make the situation worse, a full moon will occur in five days. As luck would have it, this month, August, is a blue moon month - that means two full moons in 31 days - a phenomenon which arises every 3-4 years. And we all know what happens to werewolves during a full moon, don't we? Richard has not "come out of the closet," so to speak, to his parents, his employers, or to many other humans. Basically, he needs to get out of jail pronto. Anita flies down to Meyerton to give him a hand and get him a good attorney. At Jean-Claude's insistence she is accompanied by an entourage of body guards. Colin, the master of the local vampires does not want Anita and cohorts on his turf - for any reason and has made some serious threats. So, vampires Asher and Damian, and lycanthropes Jason, Zane, Cherry, and Nathaniel are there to keep her safe - although, as always, Anita turns out to be the one who does the most protecting. Werewolves Jamil and Shang-Da are around for Richard, to assist him and to join in the Blue Moon celebrations with Verne, the local Ulfric and his pack..
Freeing Richard proves easier than tangling with Colin and crew, plus the corrupt local police, and an assortment of other heinous monsters - there's pure evil on the loose in these hills!! There are some interesting twists in character development in Blue Moon. Anita is more vulnerable here than previously. She has to confront her mixed feelings for both Richard and Jean-Claude, come to terms with Raina's munin - the vengeful spirit who possesses her from time-to-time, make a decision about her reluctant status as leoparde-lionee of the Saint Louis wereleopards, and face her own ignorance in terms of the power she possesses. Anita fears that she is rapidly becoming as much a monster as those she hunts...and loves. Hamilton succeeds beautifully in developing this vulnerable side of Anita, without sacrificing the plot. However, at this point in the series a change was needed. There had to be more to Anita than one tough cookie who goes up against the monsters and wins, repeatedly. This is one of Laurell Hamilton's best novels - tightly plotted, well structured, including wonderful dark humor, acerbic wit, and plenty of thrills and chills.
Just a word about the sexual content in Blue Moon. I do not find it any more excessive or graphic than what one reads in most popular fiction - bestseller lists included - nor what is shown on afternoon TV. It would not be realistic to write about a healthy, single woman of 24 and exclude sex. Anyway, I loved this book and certainly recommend it!
- Amazon readers rating: from 238 reviews
"The Laughing Corpse"
(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie JUL 31, 2005)
"I am an Animator. I am the Executioner. But now I know I'm something else. The one thing my Grandmother Flores feared most. I am a necromancer. The dead are my specialty." Thus speaks Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and raiser of zombies, who has just updated her resume to reflect her new skills.
Ms. Blake, is a feisty, attractive and independent 21st century lady who is as good at raising the dead as she is at slaying the undead. A wealthy industrialist, with ties to organized crime, offers her over one million dollars to bring a centuries-old corpse back to life. She refuses, as she would have to use a human sacrifice to raise these ancient bones - and she will not commit murder.
Meanwhile, the head of the police's Regional Preternatural Investigation Team, with whom Anita has a contract, is trying to contact her. It seems a zombie has gone berserk and is slaughtering people all over St. Louis. Fearing the grisly murders will continue, she is on the case immediately, questioning the likes of Dominga Salvador, an evil priestess of vaudun who would like to go into business with the powerful Anita, or else, kill her...slowly, if she refuses the offer. Also on the interrogation list are Wanda, a disabled prostitute in a wheelchair, and former lover of the above mentioned industrialist; John Burke, New Orleans Animator, in St. Louis for his brother's funeral, (another zombie victim); and Luther, the bartender at "Dead Dave's" - a hangout for vampires and vamp freaks. The charismatic Jean-Claude, now Master Vampire of St. Louis, who has a crush on Anita and expectations that she will become his human servant, accompanies her to the more dangerous areas of the city as a sort of body guard. He is, however, more dangerous, by far, than anyone/anything who would ever approach her on the mean streets. Jean Claude, is also the successful owner of the vampire strip club, "Guilty Pleasures," and the comedy club, "The Laughing Corpse."
This is the second book in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, and even more action packed than the first. It is not necessary to read book one, Guilty Pleasures, to enjoy this novel. It stands on its own very well. Ms. Hamilton is an excellent writer who mixes fantasy, mystery, romance and dark humor with lots of flair. Her take on this derivative genre is a most unusual one. The mystery is at the fore of her novels and the supernatural takes second place - it's almost taken for granted as part of Anita Blake's natural world. And Ms. Blake is a delight - witty, savvy and hard-boiled, as in tough. I am really looking forward to reading more of this series.
- Amazon readers rating: from 106 reviews
(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie JUL 31, 2005)
"I was here to talk about raising the dead. Not resurrection. I'm not that good. I mean zombies. The shambling dead. Rotting corpses. Night of the living dead. That kind of zombie. Though certainly less dramatic than Hollywood would ever put up on the screen. I am an animator. It's a job, that's all. Like selling." Thus speaks Anita Blake, the heroine of Laurell K. Hamilton's "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter" series. Vampire hunter, you ask? I thought she worked with zombies. Well, she also does vampires, (the ones who kill humans) - you know, stakes through their hearts, silver bullets, etc.. This is Anita's sideline - a hobby of sorts. The vamps call this 5'3," twenty-four year-old dynamo "The Executioner." She is a feisty, attractive and independent 21st century lady, who finds herself remarkably attracted to Jean-Claude, the very sexy owner of Club Guilty Pleasures...and Master Vampire extraordinaire. She is more than willing to repress these feelings, however. As for Jean-Claude, although he has taken just a small bite of Anita, I think he desires more than her blood.
Vampirism has been legal in the USA for almost 2 years, ever since the Supreme Court gave the bloodsucking undead equal rights. America is the only country in the world where these creatures are allowed to, er, live, (?), unless they drain the blood of a human, thereby committing murder. So, even though Anita collaborates with the police's Regional Preternatural Investigation Team when hunting criminal vampires, she needs a court order of execution before she kicks their butts back to the grave. Set in St. Louis, where vampires are much more mainstream than they are on the coasts, "Guilty Pleasures" is Ms. Hamilton's introduction of Anita Blake to the public-at-large.
Ms. Hamilton is an excellent writer who, with much flair amd pizzazz, mixes fantasy with mystery, romance and dark humor. Her take on this derivative genre is a most unusual one. The mystery is at the fore of her novels and the supernatural takes second place, almost taken for granted as part of Anita Blake's natural world. And Ms. Blake is a delight - witty, savvy and hard-boiled, as in tough. I am really looking forward to reading more of this series. These novels are a real find!
- Amazon readers rating: from 345 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
Anita Blake Series
- Guilty Pleasures (1994)
- The Laughing Corpse (1994)
- Circus of the Damned (1995)
- The Lunatic Cafe (1995)
- Bloody Bones (1996)
- The Killing Dance (1997)
- Burnt Offerings (1998)
- Blue Moon (1998)
- Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
- Narcissus in Chains (2001)
- Cerulean Sins (2002)
- Incubus Dreams (September 2004)
- Micah (February 2006)
- Danse Macabre (July 2006)
- The Harlequin (June 2007)
- Blood Noir (May 2008)
Merry Gentry Series
- Kiss of Shadows (2000)
- Caress of Twilight (2002)
- Seduced By Moonlight (2004)
- Stroke of Midnight (2005)
- Mistral's Kiss (2006)
- A Lick of Frost (October 2007)
- Swallowing Darkness (November 2008)
- Divine Misdemeanors (December 2009)
- Nightseer (1992)
- Bite: Stories (2004)
- Strange Candy : Stories (October 2006)
- Mistral's Kiss (December 2006)
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- Official web site for Laurell K Hamilton
- Orbit interview with Laurell K. Hamilton
- Crescent Blues interview with Laurell K. Hamilton
- Locus Online interview with Laurell
- Science Fiction Weekly interview with Laurell
- A fansite of Laurell K. Hamilton's novels
- Excerpt from A Stroke of Midnight
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About the Author:
Laurell K. Hamilton was born in Heber Springs, Arkansas in 1963. She grew up in Sims, Indiana, a hamlet with about 100 people. After he mother's accidental death in 1969 from a car crash, her grandmother raised her. She attributes her fascination with horror to her grandmother, who related tales of horror from the hills of Arkansas. She preferred horror over dolls.
She went to Marion, a Christian college in Indiana, and received degrees in English and Biology. She also met her first husband, Gary Hamilton, there. They have one daughter, Trinity.
Ms. Hamilton resides in St. Louis County in Missouri with her second husband Jon Green and her daughter, Trinity.