This must be my week for sequels. I know that I have expressed my irritation with Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series in other posts, but I find it difficult to stop reading a series after I have invested time in it. Especially when you have read the previous 15 books (15!!!) in the series; at that point, you’re invested. Lemme re-cap my problems with the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series: too much sex. Sex so vigorous it borders on soft-core porn. Sex with multiple partners including someone who seemed to be jailbait just a few books ago and who has dominance issues. Anita being a human succubus who feeds on sex. That just about do it for you? But it’s not just the copious amounts of sex. Anita’s character had become a bit of a bitch in the last few books as she accumulated abilities, and frankly, it was unattractive and unlikeable. Frankly, I don’t think she’s all that though the books make her out to be.
So, it was understandably with some trepidation that I picked up Blood Noir, the latest, 16th installment in the series. But I couldn’t not read it. Blood Noir focuses on Jason, the young werewolf who has been in the series since the beginning and who is best friends with one of Anita’s lovers. His father is dying, and Jason has never gotten along with him. He was and is a disappointment to his father, and his father is convinced that he is gay. He wants to see his father before he dies and asks Anita to join him as his girlfriend to try to convince his father once and for all that he (Jason) is NOT gay and not the disappointment he thinks Jason is. Oh, and it should be convincing since Anita and Jason are occasionally lovers. So Anita travels with Jason to his hometown of Asheville, NC (!!!). Once there they become embroiled in a situation involving the local political power (whose sons Jason strangely resembles) as well as the problems involving the strains of were-creatures Anita holds going crazy thanks to Marmee Noir, the ancient vampire.
All in all, Blood Noir was better than I thought it would be (if you can get past the first sex scene which takes place about 2 pages into the story). I think it did wonders for the plot to have Anita and Jason out of St. Louis and in a new environment, and it was especially interesting to me to read about their adventures in Asheville (they stayed at the Grove Park Inn) since I am a North Carolinian and go to Asheville almost every year. The plot seemed a little more substantive than in the last few books, and the slightly reduced emphasis on sex was refreshing. Often in the recent books, it seems like there is 20 pages of set-up, a zillion pages of orgiastic sex, and then about 20 more pages to wrap up everything. Some of the plot elements still wrapped up oddly and too neatly at the end, but I didn’t feel like the action suddenly started as the book was about to end. I also like that Anita was taken to task for some of her “I’m all that” behavior that irritated me so much in recent books. In some ways it seems that maybe, just maybe Hamilton has been paying attention to some of the disgruntlement about where she has taken the series and characters lately. Just a bit. Anita seemed a bit more introspective in this book.
Maybe there’s hope for the series yet. It’s funny, though, because I read some of the reviews, and they all hated it. I guess I see this one as better than the last couple. I hope that Hamilton is regrouping and figuring out where to take Anita and the series because it has gotten out of hand.
Recommended: the first 8 Anita Blake novels