Thursday, September 02, 2010

Guilty Pleasures - Laurell K. Hamilton

This is Laurell K. Hamilton's first book in the Anita Blake series. Anita Blake's actual work is to be an animator. She animates dead people for a few hours so that their loved ones can say goodbye or get information or both. But, in the world of vampires, Anita Blake is also known as The Executioner. And that is because Anita has killed her fair share of vampires. Now, someone is killing vampires. And the master vampire of the city wants her to find out who and why.

As I said, this is Hamilton's first book in the Anita Blake series. I would say that this one might qualify as horror, as there are a few scary moments. And it has vampires. Okay, today's view of vampires is a romantic one, and Hamilton does not change that on one side. But, Anita knows the truth about vampires. And she has the scars to prove it. We see the vampires from Anita's side, and in her view, vampires are inhuman beasts.

Add in this book a contingent of zombies and ghouls, a vampire which is attracted to Anita, and tries to protect her, and you have a good mixture of horror, fantasy and crime fiction. And in this book it works.

Hamilton's writing style is quite enjoyable, and I loved seeing the world she builds through Anita's eyes. How she views the world, how she interacts with vampires, what she wants and what she can actually do. And there is the difference between most vampire books today. While a lot of writers still cling to the "romantic side", Hamilton does not. Although, in her world, vampires are seen by some people in that light, we see them in another light: we see them as they feed, as they kill, as they do a lot of ugly things. In Anita's words: "A good vampire is a dead one."

Hamilton gives a good background to her characters, the human ones at least, and that makes them more real, more believable. Her characters though are not perfect; and certainly Anita is not. And this one more point for the book as a whole. Because Anita is not a "larger than life" character; she is human, with her flaws, and her strengths, her advantages, and her disadvantages. This is also true of all the characters in the book. Even the vampires are not just beasts; they have their characters, with their strengths and their flaws.

I have been told that the later books degenerate from what has been a good start. I do not know, as this is the first book I have read. I will continue to read more of her books, and write about them.