Sunday, August 8, 2010

anita blake returns in laurel k hamilton's bullet; the original & the best urban fantasy

Finally, another book in my favourite urban fantasy series, Anita Blake Vampire Hunter by Laurell K Hamilton
Bullet is the nineteenth in the series and continues the complicated, twisted story of a girl who started out raising zombies, became the lover of a Master Vampire, then the lover of a werewolf, has numerous strands of were-blood in her veins and now, as the first true necromancer in centuries, has inherited the powers of both the vampires and the were-folk.
When Hamilton began the series in 1993, no one could have predicted its success and longevity. Unfortunately, despite being so much better written, more creative, more adult, darker and sexier, it's tripe like the Twilight series that's become a world phenomenon.
Even the Sookie Stackhouse books of Charlaine Harris have been turned into a TV show and Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles have become movies.
While I'll give Harris and Rice props for their quality work, as a connoisseur of urban fantasy I'm endlessly frustrated that pap like Twilight has invaded the brains of a generation, while Hamilton's work remains, partly, a cult phenomenon.
Still, the good thing about this is that no big studio attempting to make Miley Cyrus interesting has bought up the rights and totally destroyed the best urban fantasy series ever written – so I must be grateful for small mercies.
The Anita Blake series began with Anita working as an Animator – raising zombies for families and lawyers after missing information – and side-lining in Vampire Hunting.
The early books – especially Guilty Pleasures (1993), The Laughing Corpse (1994), Circus of the Damned (1995), The Lunatic Cafe (1996), Bloody Bones (1996), The Killing Dance (1997) and Burnt Offerings (1998) – focused mainly on Anita's work, with the action coming from her various jobs.
Later books, generally starting from Narcissus in Chains (2001) and including the novella Micah (2006), put the focus clearly on Anita's romantic entanglements and particularly her multiple sexual partners as she become overwhelmed by her powers as an incubus. Although Anita is still, mostly, human, her animating powers combined with the various magics of vampires and were-animals have seen her changing into something not quite human.
During this period Hamilton came under some criticism for her over-emphasis on the sexual side of things – sure there was still a fair bit of action and gore, but Anita began to solve her problems via sex rather than pulling out the big guns (literally) and blasting away. Not something that appealed to all of her fans.
But the author must have been listening to her fans, for with Bullet and the previous book Flirt, Hamilton has returned to form. Anita is still dealing with having to choose a 'mate' among the werelions, but at least she's also back at work.
And while the sex is still there, the manipulation of emotions and anger continues, Anita and her brood of vampires and were-animals have to deal with a deadly enemy, one they thought had been destroyed.
The Mother of All Darkness is still around, she's not been completely destroyed, and even Anita's nemesis and Jean-Claude's former Mistress, Belle Morte (Beautiful Death) is scared.
As with all the Anita Blake books, Hamilton's ability to add humanity to the non-human, emotions and petty human foibles to the supernatural and the exasperation of a frustrated woman in a man's world, endears Bullet, and Anita, to the reader.
Anita Blake is a modern, urban fantasy heroine; someone we'd all like to think we'd be if faced with supernatural powers, the roaming dead, preternaturally beautiful men and a nasty, evil bitch who wants to take over our body – we'd strap on the knives and jump feet first, all guns blazing.

Bullet by Laurell K Hamilton is published by Headline, an Hachette company, and is available from good book stores and online.


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