Review: Guilty Pleasures
A few months ago I hit up a small fantasy and science fiction convention just north of me. The guests of honor were Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton. Was loads of fun to see both of them. Jim was hilarious and engaging, with a head of long blue hair, and was so much more of a nerd (to my delight) than I figured he’d be. Laurell was calm and collected, had load of insightful comments, and was way shorter than I thought she’d be. Course, I’m no slouch in that department. So, it’s all relative. In the main, I was very impressed by both of them. I came away from that con feeling energized and happy that I’d gone. Near the end, Laurell made a plea in one of her panels for all of us to write reviews of every book we read. They did more good for authors than we realized, she said. Now, granted. The Anita Blake series probably didn’t need another book review done for it. There are plenty enough as it is. But this whole EBR gig is a pretty big part of who I am, and so I went away from that con with the determination to give her a book review. So here it is.
GUILTY PLEASURES (Amazon) is the first of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of books, first published in 1993. Good night, I was still in high school at that time. The series has about a Googleplex of fans around spread all around the world. And likely a Googleplex of detractors too. There are currently 26 books in this series after all, and whenever anything has been around for that long, it tends to collect all sorts.
Anita Blake is a petite, tough woman that works as an Animator (the type that raise the dead) for a company in St. Louis Missouri. She also spends time working with the FBI in their supernatural investigations division, and additionall as a vampire hunter/killer for long enough that she’s garnered the nickname, “The Executioner”. She lives in a world where vampirism and its people are entrenched into the world’s society. In fact, they’ve been around long enough to have made a significant impact in political spheres, where they fit in rather nicely.
The story starts with her involved in a case with the FBI about a series of vampires that are getting killed. Yes, even vampires deserve to be protected by the law. Shortly afterward, she accompanies a good friend of hers to a Bachelorette party at a local vampire… club. Doesn’t take much imagination to understand why the name of the place is Guilty Pleasures. Anita is familiar with the proprietor of the establishment, but it doesn’t take very long before everything goes south (in a violent way, people. Minds out of the gutters). It becomes apparent that a new vampire has moved into town. She’s an oldie and a baddie. Something like a thousand years old, and in Anita’s world when it comes to vampires, age is pretty much equivalent with power. Step-by-step Anita puts things together until everything comes head with a big flash-bang ending that I didn’t see coming.
An approachable, if simple, story, GUILTY PLEASURES is a decent vampire novel, with a strong voice, consistent pacing, and distinctive characters.
Okay, so there are a LOT of vampire novels out there. Thankfully, I haven’t had to read them all. This one was pretty decent. The story’s told from a first-person perspective. This gives the author plenty of license to stuff the pages with characterization, which was decent. She didn’t get too overly corny. There’s a little, and it wasn’t too bad. Some other humor that was pretty good. The strongest aspect of the novel, for me, was Anita’s voice. It gave the character some depth and grit that was definitely warranted here. In whole, the pieces of the puzzle that she’s trying to solve were somewhat simple and straight-forward, but her execution and timing made it an enjoyable read. I never really felt like the pace slowed down all that much. This can sometimes make for the stretching of believably. Especially as people get injured along the way but still have to keep going. Likely the weakest part of the book was the ending. Felt like it bit off somewhat more than it could chew, but decided to resolve everything anyways. Almost to the point where it all felt like it’d been tied up with a bow and could have been a one-off book. Maybe that was on purpose. A character introduction for sure. Still, there was obviously more that she found to write about, yeah? Twenty five more an another yet on the way.
I definitely don’t think this is a series that I’ll continue with, but I can see why there would be so many people that like it. From what I understand, books that come later in the series take a decidedly deep swing into the erotic. So, if you’re going to pick this one up, keep that in mind. If you’re good with that, then I say go ahead and dive in. There’s definitely potential for some good storytelling to be had in this universe.
- Recommended Age: 17+ violence and sexual content
- Language: Not a lot but strong when it came
- Violence: Yeah, it's a vampire novel -- fairly bloody violent
- Sex: Lots of dialogue and compromising situations but no scenes