The Lunatic Cafe (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Book 4)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Warning: Violence, vampires, zombies, animators, shape-shifters, witches, nagas, bigoted policemen, wererats, shifter hunting, and skinning
Length: 352 pages (novel)
Related Posts: Book Review: Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Book 3); Book Review: The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Book 2)
In Laurell K. Hamilton’s New York Times bestselling novels, Vampire Hunter and zombie animator Anita Blake is an expert at sniffing out the bad from the good. But she’s about to learn that nothing is ever as it seems-especially in matters of the not-so-human heart…
Dating a werewolf with self-esteem issues is stressing Anita out. Especially when something-or someone-starts taking out the city’s shape-shifters.
Why I love it?
I really enjoyed the brief glimpse of dating-Anita in the beginning of the story. We got to see how, even though she is a total badass, Anita still acts like a girl when she goes out on a date (she’s still concerned about her clothes and looking cute for her man). There was little bit of foreshadowing, with regards to Richard’s predatory wolf nature, and how Anita would be introduced to werewolf and shape-shifter dynamics.
I enjoyed meeting Gretchen, the two-hundred-year-old vampire who is obsessed with Jean-Claude. Even though she was a rival for Anita’s place in Jean-Claude’s affections, I loved how ruthless and aggressive she was. Almost being on the verge of delusional, Gretchen was so obsessed with Jean-Claude, that she couldn’t conceive how Anita could not want him. Gretchen’s dedication to Jean-Claude, made his punishment of her (stuffing in a coffin to starve for a while) much worse, because she never thought that object of her affections could ever do that to her (poor thing thought Jean-Claude was just play hard-to-get).
Other than her dates with Richard, Anita has definitely had few positive experiences with shape-shifters/werewolves. She met Rafael when she was handed to the wererats for torture, courtesy of Nikolaos, and Richard, during the giant snake incidence. Her introduction to the werewolf hierarchy, started with Jean-Claude trying to prove that Richard was purposefully withholding life-altering information from her. The intimated slight was that either Richard thought Anita was too weak to handle it (she needed to be protected and sheltered from the big bad wolves), or that she would be too trigger-happy for Richard’s liking and he couldn’t trust her to not off the wolves that posed a threat to him. Given Anita’s thoughts about how Richard was watching the people coming into the theater, this just exposed more problems in their relationship, with regards to Richard being a werewolf and his dislike of her more forceful solutions for problematic people.
This was followed by her being introduced to Marcus and the other shape-shifter leaders. Of course, Marcus couldn’t have just called Anita to schedule an appointment, like a normal person. Instead, he purposefully put Irving in a hard position, by forcing him to go against Richard’s orders of keeping Anita out of werewolf politics, under the threat of punishing if he failed to get Anita to attend. If you can imagine, it went downhill from there, with the meeting ending with the shape-shifters eating a recently deceased Alfred, and seeing Raina and Gabriel’s shifter snuff porn films (courtesy of Edward). Heck, I would be scared to marry a guy, whose whole extended family was crazier than a bag of full of cats, and that’s before the threat of him having to rule over these crazies.
The Elvira Drew plot line was nice, adding to the confusion of who was kidnapping the shifters (because there were actually two sets of shifter-nappers). I liked her approach to kidnapping (come into my lair, said the shape-shifting witch to the clueless shape-shifter); it was very smart. I absolutely hated Sheriff Titus, Aikensen, and Kaspar Gunderson, but that was the point of their characters. They were a lesson in how cruelty and being a bully gets you nowhere but dead or incarcerated.
I have to say, this wasn’t my favorite Anita Blake book, so far. I felt that the negatives of being with Richard came too soon after introducing his character. Readers were just beginning to hope that Richard was a solid alternative to Jean-Claude, who wants to trap Anita into a relationship she is ambivalent about. However, we realize now, that being with Richard has its own problems, which possibly makes Jean-Claude the lesser of two evils.
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