Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Book 1)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Warning: Violence, vampires, wererats, blood play, pain play, zombies, animators, and ghouls
Length: 355 pages
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.
Why I love it?
Re-reading this book makes me realize what a fantastic introduction to the Anita Blake universe Guilty Pleasures was. I loved how much information Laurell K. Hamilton packed in this book about Anita. By the end of the book, we know who Anita is; we know her likes (stuffed penguins, meatloaf), dislikes (needles, breakfast, blueberries), and we know what behaviors she find acceptable (trying your best) and unacceptable (failing those under your protection). We understand what she does (being an animator), the process that is involved, and the different ways she can do her job.
We also got to meet some of the most important people in her life: her best friend, PI, and constant exercise partner, Veronica “Ronnie” Sims; boss/money-maker and greedy SOB, Bert; her boss when she is consulting with the RPIT, Dolph; the lovable married lech, Zerbrowski; the cold, but oddly caring, assassin, Edward; and the suave, seductive vampire, Jean-Claude.
While the book had a strong mystery plotline, the focus of Guilty Pleasures was to: introduce us to the characters we’ll see throughout the series (Catherine, Edward, etc.); orientate us to the various locations that will be revisiting (Circus of the Damned); and make us understand what makes Anita tick (as should be).
Other than trying to orientate us to the Anita Blake universe, the story also held three main plot lines. The first plotline is the case of the murdered vampires, which is being investigated both by RPIT team and the vampires themselves. The first plot line is rather basic and straightforward, Anita has to try to figure out who is killing these vampires in such a shout this way. I love how it started with her already knowing how it’s a killer is killing these vampires: they’re using a ghoul pack to kill the vampires. What makes the plot line so brilliant is that the ghoul pack is not behaving like a normal ghoul pack. They’re not afraid to attack healthy human beings, and they’re moving from cemetery to cemetery. There’s just so much anomalous about this particular mode of assassination that immediately it makes the case interesting. I also love how this mystery was resolved. The little plot twist, where Zachary was responsible for the murderous ghoul pack, and that he was undead himself, was brilliant. Laurell K. Hamilton provided a little nugget of information that will be niggling at the back of the reader’s mind: are ghouls created by burying animators in cemeteries. A question she then answers later on in the series.
The second plot line that feeds into the first. Anita is dragged into the supernatural world of vampires at Nikolaos’ behest. While Anita is a vampire executioner, she’s never really understood vampires (nor wanted to, really). However, by Nikolaos making Jean-Claude pull her into this investigation of the murdered vampires, she gets to see a different side of vampires and learn more about them. Anita now knows that their master vampires to have a great amount of control over Alyssa vampires, she also knows now that vampires can take a lot of time to hide with the are. The most profound revelation was the fact that vampires can have human servants, not in the Renfield kind of way, but humans who are metaphysically connected to their vampire masters, consequently living as long as the vampire they serve, and developing control over their master’s specialized skill.
The last plot line was the clear beginning of Jean-Claude’s seduction of Anita. It’s clear that Jean-Claude’s initial interest in Anita, is based on Anita’s abilities to assess the ages of vampires, and her partial ability to look him in the eye, without him being able to control her mind (did that read as crazy as it did?). His obsession over her abilities finally culminates in him making strides toward making Anita his human servant. I am sure that this wasn’t a conscious decision on his part, but when the opportunity to do so arose (and have a semi-reasonable excuse for doing it), he took it with both hand and didn’t let it go.
The combination of the various plot lines weaved with yummy Anita goodness, made the book both innovative and interesting, bringing readers back for more.
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