Monday, March 06, 2006

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

Vampires! I’ll admit, like many people out there, I do enjoy a good vampire book from time to time. Guilty Pleasures is Hamilton’s first installment in a series of books starring Anita Blake, Vampire Slayer. The books are decently popular, so I decided to give it a read.

Imagine the world we exist in, however, vampires, lycanthropes (from werewolves to wererats), zombies, ghouls, etc. are very real creatures. Vampires in the US have a bad rap, but they are gaining some civil rights – it’s now illegal to ‘murder’ a vampire. The city of St. Louis has uneasily embraced its undead inhabitants, making them a major tourist attraction – visit a vampire strip club or the circus of the damned or join the vampire church – no abstract concepts of immortality here, join and you can ‘live’ forever.

Anita Blake is an animator – someone who has the power to raise the dead. She is also a vampire hunter, contracted by the police to kill ‘problem’ vampires. In an ironic twist, Anita, the ‘executioner’, has been hired by both the police and the city's most powerful master vampire to find who has been killing some of the city’s most powerful vampires.

Anita is both strong and vulnerable, and one hell of a cynic. Vampires are soulless, powerful creatures, and Anita would love to see the world free of them. Not only is she working for vampires under the threat of the death and dismemberment of a friend (and herself), but someone is trying to kill her; things have been better. She is uneasy, scared, and angry. And when she’s angry, even a thousand-year old master vampire should take notice.

Guilty Pleasures is a quick, fun read. While it is certainly an ‘R-rated’ book, it is not the sex-filled book many seem to imply about Hamilton’s books (of course, I haven’t read any of her others). The atmosphere is dark, dirty, and a bit perverted, but Hamilton balances this well Blake’s cold wit and sarcasm, though it can be forced at times. The writing suffers from the typical awkwardness of a first book, but not so much that it can’t be overlooked.

On my 10-point rating scale, where 5 is a take-it or leave-it book, and 10 is unsurpassed, Guilty Pleasures rates a 6 to 6.5. I enjoyed this book, and will read the next installment of Anita Blake, Vampire Slayer: The Laughing Corpse. Guilty Pleasures is not a book of great depth, just a fun, quick, horrific romp through a world of monsters helmed by the darkly funny Anita Blake.

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