Vampire hunter Anita Blake finds her life is more complicated than ever, caught as she is between her obligations to the living-and the undead.
(That’s super vague and unhelpful, isn’t it?)
“Sometimes you fight what you are, and sometimes you give in to it. And some nights you just don’t want to fight yourself anymore, so you pick someone else to fight.”
Typically I write reviews for others. Not this time. This will be full of spoilers, both for present and future books. They will be filled with rants and maybe even a little gushing. I don’t want to read these again.
If you have read them before: Enjoy my pain.
If you haven’t: Enjoy my pain.
You have been warned, we’ll see how long I last.
Someone save me from myself.
First, what the story is about: there is a group of rogue vampires, lead by a master vampire, killing strippers around St. Louis. Anita knows it isn’t any of Jean Claude’s vampires, so it must be someone new to town that she has to track down. Along the way she uncovers a lot of ugly truths that she’ll have to deal with in later books.
This actually isn’t a bad story. It’s only the amount of it in the book that is the problem. In which I mean there is almost none of that story in this book. There was all of maybe 3 pages in the first 10% dedicated to this. And then I glanced at where I was in the book and it was 34% in and it still wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I actually forgot what the book was about at one point because it was lost in the fog of relationship bullshit. At a guess, maybe 10% of the entirety of this book is dedicated to this serial killer of strippers group of vampires. There was so many more interesting things that we could have seen than what we got.
Especially because the story played out so well, too. And remember the spoiler warning at the beginning of the review, here. The bad guy gets away. For the first time in the entire series, Anita doesn’t get the bad guy. And she doesn’t even know who they are. Like, I can’t help but think of all the story we miss between books 12, 13, and 14 of Anita dealing with letting them go. Especially since they show up again in book 17 and none of this potential angst is there.
There is also another minor point that comes up that I loved the first time I read it, and I love it this time. And it doesn’t get the attention it deserves, either. Anita finds out that the leader of the Church of Life, Malcolm, isn’t blood tying his vampires to him. Which is a really big deal, because this means that if they get out of control, he can’t control them. Which is terrifying. And it is certainly going to come up in a few books.
I hate Anita. I hate Nathaniel. I hate the sex. I’m so tired of the relationship bullshit.
I honestly feel like Nathaniel might be the worst character in the series. Which really is a triumph because there are so many to choose from. At least Richard is in your face terrible. Please die, Richard. Nathaniel is just sneaky about it.
Nathaniel, all book long, pushes and pushes and pushes Anita. To have sex with him. I just wanted to yell at Anita to dump him or kill him, but stop putting up with his kitty cat bullshit. Especially since he pushes her past her boundaries that she explicitly lays out all the time. And he makes everything about him.
In one very memorable scene, that I first read when I was 17, mind you, and I should not have been reading this book, Anita’s powers go haywire. The beast she has been carrying inside, unable to let out, now wants out. Only it can’t. So what happens? She has sex in her office with Nathaniel, of course. But not just any sex. A sort of makeshift beastiality sex with BDSM elements where neither are shifted, but both want to be. It is very feline in nature.
And after bitching for I don’t even know how many books now that Anita doesn’t want to have sex with Nathaniel, and she isn’t into the whole BDSM scene: Anita is happy that Nathaniel is controlling and mastering her in her office. Because her wereleopard is riding to the surface trying to break out and it likes that because of nature. Apparently that’s what she wanted from him all along. A pushy sub who doesn’t obey the boundaries she set out when she is in no position to deny him. Great.
And then Anita is MAD because Nathaniel doesn’t have an orgasm. What, lady? Seriously? Fucks sake. What follows is a couple of chapters worth of Anita being angry that he didn’t go as far as possible with her when she couldn’t consent to, you know, having a ton of cum dumped in her. And she’s mad because if he had taken that last choice away from her, they’d have already broken the “barrier” so they could have sex again later, easier.
I hate these two people so much.
And the worst of all that is that the reason why Nathaniel doesn’t break her consent entirely? Purely selfish reasons. He doesn’t care about Anita at all. No. His excuse is that he didn’t want to orgasm because he wanted her to want him for him. Not because she couldn’t consent. Because he wanted her to want it. AHHHHH
And this is something he does a lot. Earlier in the book he said the line “I didn’t want you to do it (sex) because I’m mad, I want you to do it because you want to.” Which is fine and dandy. If he hasn’t spent approximately half of the entirety of the book to date pushing Anita to have sex with him.
And this entire scene ended with Nathaniel telling Anita “You don’t know how to use people.” I beg to fucking differ! Anita is using you, Nathaniel. And she knows it! That’s why she is reluctant to have sex with him. That is why she doesn’t want him that way. And the pressuring of Nathaniel (and frankly everyone around her) to have sex with him is sickening.
AND THAT ISN’T THE ONLY RANT I HAVE FOR THIS BOOK!
She jumps right from that, to accompanying Nathaniel to the strip club he works at. Where there is a problem with another vampire there. Who is essentially being forced to work at a strip club against his will. Only as a waiter though, Jean Claude understands that it is wrong to force people to strip. Only, the vampire doesn’t have the patience or skills for it. Frankly, I understand his problems with this scenario.
And it is actually really interesting how Anita’s powers grow during the fight. I’ll give it that.
What is less interesting is how they stop in the middle of the fight, essentially, to discuss having sex. Well, to discuss Jean Claude feeding on Anita. Not sex during the fight. Only it was this whole thing. A half step away from an argument.
And then they don’t even kill the problem Vampire. They break him. Subdue him enough that he is under their control again. Because that makes sense. Let us keep around an out of control vampire around who refuses to follow directions unless directly controlled and no one except Anita and Jean Claude can control him. Perfect. Great idea.
That isn’t even the worst of it. They immediately force him to go on stage, at a strip club, that he works as a waiter at. And they auction off a kiss from him to the audience.
What the fuck is the point of that? Why would they do this? What the fuck is wrong with them? How do they not see this is a massive problem and breach of conduct?
And then Anita immediately goes backstage and fucks a gay guy who says it is alright that she did have sex with him because Anita is a good lay and it was better than her killing and eating him. Or something. (Made worse by Nathaniels histrionics that she’ll fuck a gay guy and not him).
I have no idea how I finished this book. At least Anita’s power ups are interesting?