Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter

“One thing I’ve learned about vampires–they keep pulling new rabbits out of their cloaks. Big, fanged, carnivorous bunnies that’ll eat your eyeballs if you’re not paying attention.”

– Laurell K. Hamilton, Bloody Bones

Anita Zombies

This post contains spoilers…

Anita Blake is a necromancer, a re-animator. She brings the dead back to life nightly to answer the questions of their former loved ones and acquaintances. And this is just what she does for a living.

In her spare time, Anita is the Police Department’s secret informant, a vampire hunter with the ominous title of ‘Executioner,’ and the city’s most powerful vampire’s human servant. She is one third of a ‘triumvirate’ consisting of herself, one formerly-mentioned super powerful vampire, and her werewolf ‘on again/off again’ boyfriend.

Did I mention that she has a kickass vampire power known as the ardeur? And that she has the metaphysical capability of turning into were-animals of varying types?

*Deep sigh*

The story started out very well. Anita Blake is a re-animator who has some vague, undefined beef – insert first sceptical eyebrow here – with the city’s most influential vampire (next to the Master Vampire who dies ignominiously in the first book), and is looking for love in all the wrong places. There are some fantastic background characters to deal with here, but we see very little of them amidst Anita’s fury at Jean-Claude for… Well, whatever the hell it is he actually did to her. This would all be good and well if Jean-Claude came across in the novels as an evil-minded monster with no humanity and a penchant for killing innocent people all to satiate his violent thirst for blood.

He doesn’t, however. So the reader kind of learns to like this character.

Jean-Claude

Oh wait… There was that whole tricking-her-into-becoming-his-human-servant thing. I guess that could dampen a person’s image of the guy. In his incredible defence, though, he finds wonderful ways to excuse his behaviour whenever he ‘marks’ Anita. He was saving her life, he had to in order to protect himself and thus her, and so on and so forth.

And then there’s the fact that Jean-Claude is gorgeous. Influential. Wealthy. Powerful. And – for some reason known only to the author – madly in love with Anita. Oh, and he owns a strip-club.

Where naked werewolves wander the hallways.

Kind of like the Twilight films, but with an added porn soundtrack.

Well, of course, Anita couldn’t possibly sleep with this man, because the fact that he is a vampire outweighs all the above items acting in his favour. So, instead, she falls in love with Richard. A simple soul with a secret.

Richard is a werewolf. One of many were-critters in the city, she is later to find out. And after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Anita turns to Jean-Claude and FINALLY gives in to her lust.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t stop. So many books. So very many more sex scenes.  And rather poorly crafted, too, which is also unfortunate. Sex scenes can often-times transform into spiritual encounters, but these, mostly, degrade into pornography.

“I sat on the bed. Neither of us said anything. I wasn’t slick and sophisticated enough for this. What do you say to boyfriend A when he finds you naked in the bed of boyfriend B? Especially if boyfriend A turned into a monster the night before and ate someone. I bet Miss Manners didn’t cover this at all.”

– Laurell K. Hamilton, The Killing Dance

Valentine's

The setting was fabulous! An alternate reality where vampires, and certain other ‘monsters,’ live out in the open, recognised by human society. There is the, of course, the issue of affording rights and avoiding becoming whole-sale victims on the side of the mortal authorities (Sound like TrueBlood? Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries series was not published until at least eight years after the first Anita Blake novel was released), as well as the acceptance of people to this exciting and terrifying new creature in their midst. Over and above that, however, the vampire social structure is magnificent:

Every city has a Master Vampire and subjects, as well as a type of animal that he/she controls. In Jean-Claude’s case it is wolves. This power usually transmutes into the control over were-creatures that fit the sub-species that the vampire’s power pertains to.

And this is only the beginning of it.

But none of this becomes plain enough to the reader. Why? Because we are subject to Anita’s constant moping about things that she has brought upon herself. Anita Blake has a typical ‘hunter’s’ mentality. If it is not strictly human (or, apparently, just a dead human) it does not deserve my love or sympathy. This later transforms into a weird psychosomatic need to copulate with every unnatural thing she can find (eventually explained away by the ardeur – a vampire power which requires the subject to feed on lust). Anita’s leap in logic makes very little sense to her, or the reader, though we are treated to 21 books’ worth of explanation.

Laurell K Hamilton

Anita is clearly a Mary-Sue character. Yes, she’s pretty. But this hardly explains why absolutely everyone, supernatural or otherwise, is desperate to get into bed with her. Clearly, the author picked up on this because she then proceeds to try and explain this away as well by using a convoluted whirlpool of obscure vampire and supernatural powers.

Well, her attractiveness couldn’t be left to her personality. She threatens almost everyone she meets with a gun, sleeps around with as many men as she likes, and insists that they all only sleep with her. Not exactly girlfriend material.

There is absolutely no problem with making the character you always wished you could be. Writers do it all the time. But a perspective character has to have one flaw.

At least.

Just one.

So that he/she is at least relatable. In 21 books, Anita has not displayed this flaw, she is un-killable, absorbs any attack thrown at her and then makes it her own, and will never stop making every man she meets fall in love with her. She’s like a really beautiful terminator with a greedy, selfish heart.

And a strange love of penguins.

If less time had been spent on sex scenes and needless whining, we may have been able to see a side of Anita that we really loved (perhaps the reason she loves penguins so much), or focussed more on her relationship (not just her exuberant sex) with Jean-Claude, or even learnt to discover and adore this universe that was created to house the novels.

If only.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

15 Comments

  • Reply Christine Garris February 24, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I so agree with you. And what galls me, is that the writer, having been successfully published in the past, seems to have had no editing whatsoever. In her other series, the one about the Faeries, her character degrades from a substantive, whole person, into what I would call a whore with a hall pass. In other words both characters are wonton sluts, but its for a “good reason”. And in the Faerie series, the character says the words “It was as if” about 65 times per chapter. This is not an exaggeration.

    I still have Hamilton’s books on my shelf. Though only the first three to four of either series deserves to be there.( I have a small house and space is at a premium). I know that every author can have that one book in a series that just doesn’t feel like the rest. As a fan, I have stayed loyal, in the past, when this has happened. I had with Hamilton as well– I read at least 14 of the Anita Blake novels before I finally had to come to terms with the fact the the real Anita Blake had died sometime between books four and six. A skanky, whiny, whore had taken her place. And she wasn’t even one of those plucky, down on your luck whores we can all fall in love with. Ah well.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 24, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Wow! I have read fifteen of the books… Round about halfway through book fifteen I realised this was never going to improve and I just gave up. I’ve never read the Mary Gentry (I think it’s called?) series, but I’ve heard that it is no improvement on Anita Blake.

  • Reply annabelle April 30, 2013 at 6:56 am

    i love your review on mary su..err..Anita blake,the author ruined a character that had potential,now she’s just a whiny selfish slut,and i don’t like how she is trying to steal claudias character and write her as hers.
    and your review on Anne rice’s vampires are spot on.

    • Reply Lafaeyette April 30, 2013 at 7:07 am

      Thank you, Annabelle :). It’s refreshing to find someone who agrees regarding the Mary Sue that is Anita Blake. Usually people just fly off the handle and shout at me 😛

  • Reply Nikki June 11, 2013 at 1:43 am

    I have never seen so many negative comments about the Anita Blake series. To be honest I get a little tired of the sex sometimes, but on a whole I Iike it. Anne Rice is the goddess of the poetic vampire for me. Her characters are rich, full of personality, and historically intriguing, but I find my self liking the action and relate able characters that exist in Blake’s world. I saw Anita grow from a hard nosed, self righteous, B word, to someone was was forced to open her heart and mind to the people she loved. I don’t need her to be a monogamous angel. She kicks ass, plays how the boys play, has great sex, and doesn’t have to live up to some virtuous Victorian standard ( although she does struggle with herself ).

    • Reply Carmen Dominique June 11, 2013 at 7:07 am

      Believe me when I tell you that I want to feel the same way that you do about the series. I loved the world, the universe, and the side-characters. I just do not like Anita Blake herself. But I appreciate your opinion on the matter. In the same manner that there are people in the world who loathe Anne’s writing (they really do, I’ve found forums full of them and they are very strange to me), there will always be people that will disagree where literature is concerned. 🙂

  • Reply Seven June 22, 2013 at 4:24 am

    I’m on the fence with LKHs books. I love how she brings the supernatural into the real world as we know it. I know she does a TON of research to get the settings right and the terminology right, and I know she puts her bio degree to use in getting the critters to feel real. I like the way the ABVH series brings the fairy tales into light (Bloody Bones). What I don’t like is how, in the course of 5 (4?) books, Anita goes from this kick-ass monster slayer to this whining-about-everything whore.

    I still read the books in the hopes that the sex will fall into the background and Anita will get back to the police work. I re-read the early books every now and then just to watch Anita try not to barf on a crime scene. Honestly, the scene where she tossed the hand to the cop and made him have to leave to lose his cookies was awesome. But even the police work got degraded by the sex. As of the last book I read (don’t remember which), Dolph was even wondering about her sex life and how it effected his own life.

    The series started in ’93, so kudos to LKH for keeping a series going for 20 years. I started reading them in ’04. My favorite is Obsidian Butterfly. The sex wasn’t as prominent because she was in NM with Edward. But she even softened the character of Edward by throwing in the kids and the wife. Really?!

    After all this, at least her vampires don’t sparkle. 😉

    • Reply Carmen Dominique June 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Too true! I had to giggle at your final comment there. Yes, I started reading these novels about the same time and I made quite a chip into the series before I gave up. I agree that to have achieved the creation of a series this long is great, one still has to fill that series with intrigue and actual story. I find it sad that Hamilton has not really succeeded at that for me. Because the universe she created really is fantastic.

  • Reply Hold the Heathen Hammer High March 25, 2014 at 6:51 am

    You could try reviewing the Morganville Vampire series if you are looking for more vampire books to review. There is also The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause and the House of Night series. I really liked the paganism and humaness of of the HoN vampires. Your blog is nice.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique April 16, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Thank you:) I will look into those others. At the moment I am working on an encyclopedia of Anne Rice’s vampire fiction.

  • Reply charlotte November 24, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Finally someone else who sees it! Anita is totally a mary sue character!! It’s so obvious that LKH herself is living a fantasy through Anita. I mean COME ON. it’s so ridiculous. Anita is the most beautiful/sexiest woman ANY MAN HAS EVER SEEN. Every man is instantly attracted to her and MUST HAVE HER.
    (Yeah, that’s realistic. NOT.)
    And she keeps on being able to do things no one else can do. What, she is the master of the were-lions? Wow, who knew that was possible! Oh, and the wear-hyenas, too? (Seriously, LKH, a “were-hyena”? What the hell were you thinking? ENOUGH WITH THE WERE ANIMALS!!!)
    Oh, now she’s the goddess of the whole entire UNIVERSE??! Well why not? She is perfect and flawless in every way and is in control over everything and everyone! Her “boyfriends” aren’t allowed to sleep with anyone else but her, but somehow they’re ok with that, even knowing she is screwing upwards of 20 regular boyfriends, along with countless strangers??! In what universe could THAT work??!
    Oh, and this is a minor point, but during all the sex scenes all the men keep saying how “tight” she is. Um, ok. So she has sex with like a dozen different men every day…. and she still remains as tight as a virgin? Ok, that doesn’t even make sense.

    I recently read a blog where LKH sounds off on her “negative fans”, saying basically “if you don’t like it don’t read it” etc. I agree. I don’t read them. I stopped a long time ago. I guess I’m just shocked that these books are still being written. I can’t believe anyone actually finds these books enjoyable. I have a friend who still reads these and she talks about them sometimes, which is the only reason I am even thinking about it. I guess it’s just super annoying how these books are being written.

    Basically, at this point, according to my friend who still reads these books, Anita is basically god. She is over everyone and is more powerful than anything and she somehow got all the magical powers or whatever from “mother” vampire lady? Not really sure since I didn’t read it, but whatever. Where I left off, Anita kept being able to do stuff no one else could and it was always like WOW she’s so amazing! Pfffft. Enough.

    I prefer Jim Butcher’s series, the Dresden files. Much more believable. I mean, he’s powerful, but he’s FAR from being the most powerful. He is a real person with real flaws and that’s something we can identify with. What woman can identify with being completely perfect physically, and able to command 15 men to service her sexually and no one else, and do anything she says to do, at any time, just at her whim? Anita blake is a joke. A bad joke that needs to die.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique November 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Yes, I have read that blog… I got three paragraphs in and was so disgusted that I wrote this ^.^
      What an infuriatingly unpleasant person.
      Thanks your post, yes, I know many people who still read these books, and, in their defense, I got to, I think, fifteen or sixteen in the series? But… I just could not do it anymore after that. I want a BELIEVABLE heroine! Someone I like. Not someone who makes me roll my eyes whenever I see her name on the page…

    • Reply Carmen Dominique December 7, 2014 at 10:11 am

      http://yourheadvoiceisstupid.blogspot.com/2011/07/open-letter-to-lkh-regarding-hit-list.html

      *snickers snorts*

  • Reply Tracy September 10, 2015 at 12:59 am

    I nearly stopped reading after the child rape/torture scenes in “Obsidian Butterfly.” Seriously, LKH has a child of her own — how can ANY parent think that child rape is in ANY WAY okay?! I feel sorry for her child, I really do. There’s no telling what that kid might be subjected to.

    What really got me started with the eye-rolling and near-barfing was how LKH kept obsessing about how “tight” Anita is. Wait a frickin’ frackin’ minute here. The slut has sex with at least half a dozen men a day. Tight? You’ve to be kidding me. With as much action as that thing gets, a worldwide biker convention could ride up in there on Harleys and she’d still have some space left.

    I doggedly kept reading the Anita Sue: Raging Slut series until “Incubus Dreams.” Got almost halfway through, realized that I was holding back the barf reflex with nearly every page, and threw the book in the trash. I haven’t gone back. Just looking at LKH’s books on shelves in B&N now makes me want to put on sanitized gloves before I touch anything on the same shelf.

    I love the world that LKH created, but by book 12, it had been twisted into something that bore almost zero resemblance to what it started out being. What a waste.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique December 11, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      I loved the world. But I hated the perspective character. It has been a trial to make it as far as I have, and the author has, essentially, ruined any more enjoyment I may have taken from the books.

    Leave a Reply