Summer mini review: Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire hunter 01) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Form: e-book, pdf format
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance, crime story
Target audience: adults
This huge and well-known series (twenty installments have been written so far, imagine that!) takes place in a parallel fantasy world where vampires, shape shifters, werewolves, faeries, etc. exist. Our main heroine is called Anita Blake and she is knee-deep into the supernatural world whether she wants it or not. Her night job, and primary source of income, is the legal profession of re-animating the dead. She is also a licensed vampire hunter/executioner, with eventual empowerment as a Federal Marshal. In her world this profession involves tracking down and killing vampires who have murdered humans. She is also held in retainer for the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (RPIT, pronounced Rip-it), which investigates supernatural crimes committed involving magic, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures.
In the first novel, Guilty Pleasures, Anita is cruelly blackmailed by Nikolaos, the vampire Master of the City, into investigating a series of vampire murders. During the course of this investigation, we learn that Jean-Claude, another master vampire but less powerful than Nikolaos, is interested in Anita. He gives her two of the four marks necessary to make her his personal “human servant” without her being aware of it. We also learn that while Anita can usually guess the age of vampires, she cannot get a read on Jean-Claude’s age. Anita identifies the murderer, but by that point has sufficiently antagonized Nikolaos and her underlings that she has do defend herself against them too. With help from Edward, a human associate who specializes in assassinating supernatural targets, and Rafael the Rat King, Anita kills Nikolaos and many of her followers. To her surprise, Jean-Claude becomes the new Master of the City.
What I liked:
  • The strong, tough-minded character of the heroine and narrator is a big asset here – Anita is definitely the type of woman I like reading about. She is conflicted, kick-ass, intelligent and funny. She hates pink. She is loyal.
·        Hamilton’s vampires are of the Anne Rice genre – they are beautiful, deadly and follow their own code of ethics. Many humans have become enthralled with them, but many others remain deeply suspicious. To Anita they are monsters who, when they go out of control, must be killed but they are not one-dimensional monsters.Some of them (Jean-Claude) are pretty alluring. I liked such an approach.
  • The style of this book is part detective potboiler, part mystery, and part fantasy with supernatural portents. It was a very quick read, carrying me along from its first page to its last. A book perfect for a summer day although not exactly fluffy – the plot is filled with violence and gore, and yet, with the innocence and hope that remains inside Anita, you don’t feel overwhelmed by it. 
Titillating factor:
The sexual content in this book I would consider basically  PG-13 – plenty of innuendo, nothing explicit. The violence, however, is probably at the “R” rating, not too severe for a vampire novel, but certainly not for the squeamish either.
What I didn’t like:
  • The dialogues the author puts in the mouths of her characters are sometimes exceedingly clumsy. The story gets often choppy, with no smooth flow between the action scenes.
  • Although Ms Hamilton’s new, alternate universe, where vampires and other scary creatures are a regular part of our world, is interesting in itself I felt like I’ve seen all this stuff before. I’ve read too many vampire novels I guess.
  • I know it is just the first part of the series but it kind of bothered me why so little was explained here – speak about a patchy world building. For instance there is no explanation for why a vampire can kill 23 people before a court order is given for its extermination. Not enough proof? There is no explanation given for why killing vampires is so hard while it’s pretty clear they are defenseless during the day; after all Anita and Edward dispatch several of the city’s most powerful vampires quite easily so what’s the real problem?
  •  The plot was rather predictable –  from the first chapter I could tell you how it would end and who would die. I wasn’t terribly interested in solving the whole mystery either.
  • The ending was just as bad. The author, in the last ten pages or so, wrapped up the mystery of the vampire killer by simply sending Anita on a random zombie job. To top it off, the clients from the zombie job never showed up, apparently forgetting the whole deal. Sloppy.
  • the cover – yuck!
Final verdict:
I finished the first book and considered it not that bad. Perhaps not exactly brilliant but still readable. Having read mixed reviews of the whole series, I am intrigued enough to pick up the second installment – apparently the series gets better.
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9 Responses to Summer mini review: Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire hunter 01) by Laurell K. Hamilton

  1. Mel says:

    I've only read this book of the Anita Blake series and just wasn't intrigued enough to find out any more. Having said that, it wasn't the worst UF I'd ever read. :)Worth remembering that this was one of the first of those types of books so while the world feels familair now, I guess it wasn't when the books first came out.

  2. anachronist says:

    Mel – you definitely have a point, the book was published for the first time in 2000 and I bet it was considered very original then.

  3. Blodeuedd says:

    Lol. Honestly I will just give it a miss 😉 Though I do think I have book 1 as an ebook so one day perhaps

  4. I read the first few books and I did seem to get more interested. I just didn't have the rest of the books to continue. I was also told to beware of wanting more smex in the books… you will eventually get that in spades (I hadn't gotten that far… lol).

  5. anachronist says:

    Blodeuedd – one day when you get bored and evil…;)Melissa, I doubt I will get that far either!

  6. Great honest review. How amazing it has 20 installments. I hadn't heard of any of them, but it good to be made aware they exist.

  7. anachronist says:

    Yes, I agree 20 installments sounds kind of hard core. Thanks, Lena for a visit!

  8. Aurian says:

    No you are wrong, the book was first published in 1993, and it was/is one of the first series in this genre. I totally love it. So I am sorry, you did not like it more. From book 8 or so, the sex will escalate, as Anita becomes kind of infected with L'Ardeur and she needs to feed on sex, like a living vampire. I could tell you lots and lots on the overal storyline, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. For me, the Jess Haines book especially are week copies of the Anita Blake series. So if you have read that one, of course it sounds familiair.

  9. anachronist says:

    Thanks for your info, Aurian. I've heard that despite sex scenes the series gets better as it develops – a good thing in a series. I admit I wasn't enamoured with the first installment but I am willing to try the rest, especially as I know now this series was kind of a groundbreaker for others. Which part is your favourite btw?

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