Laurell K Hamilton
“I don’t date Vampires. I kill them.”
Anita Blake, Guilty Pleasures, Laurel K Hamilton
Guilty Pleasures is the first book in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. The protagonist of the book is Anita Blake, an animator working for Animators Inc. An animator has the ability to bring the dead back to life as a zombie and ask questions etc. Animators Inc. doesn’t just deal with zombies though. Anita offers her opinion on murder cases that involve Vampires and Ghouls, too. At the beginning of the book, a Vampire named Willie asks Anita to investigate the series of Vampire murders that have been happening. Anita refuses as she will not work for Vampires. She is tricked into Guilty Pleasures by a friend for a bachelorette party. Guilty Pleasures is a club where vampires and humans, who are addicted to being bitten by vampires, strip and perform. Against her better judgment, Anita enters the club. Halfway through the night she has to leave to check out a murder victim, and on her return, Aubrey, a five hundred year old Vampire, has put the bride to be under his spell. That means he can find her whenever he chooses, no matter where she is. Anita understands the gravity of the situation and agrees to help find the Vampire murderer. Will Anita be able to find the Vampire murderer and save her friend? Will Anita survive the numerous attempts on her life as she gets closer and closer to the murderer? Will the Master Vampire, Nikolaos, be patient and give Anita time to find the murderer, or will she get impatient and kill her?
First of all, I really liked Anita’s character. Despite everything that she faces throughout this book such as physical and mental torture, attempts on her life, sudden bereavement, threats from a hunter for information and being slowly turned into a Master Vampire’s human servant, Anita keeps fighting. There is never a moment where she gives up. Sometimes she crawls into bed wishing that things were different, but the next day she is up and ready to fight for her life. She is also strong in the face of her enemies, and tries not to let them see weakness. When someone who she cares about is ruthlessly murdered, Anita holds herself together until she is alone. Only then does she break down, and the description is heart wrenching. Afterwards, she takes a deep breath and carries on because the fight with Nikolaos will not wait for her to grieve. I admire that about Anita.
I also liked the portrayal of Vampires in this book. There were the traditional elements; not going out during the day and sleeping in coffins, silver bullets and crosses harm Vampires, and how humans should not look into a Vampire’s eye because they can influence you. I also liked the twists and additional elements. For example, Vampires can move quickly, but only if they are able to enter the mind and make a person unable to see the movement. It seems like magic, but it’s not. Also, I found it interesting that a human can become a Master Vampire’s servant if they received a number of marks (purposefully vague so as not to include spoilers) from the Master Vampire. This has several perks, like being able to look into a Vampire’s eyes without falling under their spell, and being able to see their true appearance rather than what the Vampire wants you to see. I also found it fascinating that a mental attack from a Vampire is worse than being physically bitten. This is something Anita is particularly frightened of. The Vampires are also traditionally vicious. Nicolas, the one thousand year old Master Vampire, looks like a 12 year old child, and acts like one most of the time. The evil things she says and does contrast this and result in an interesting contradiction. Also, every now and again she drops the act and she seems much older and wiser. It is in these moments that Nikolaos is the scariest.
I also liked how the book dealt with humans who are bitten by Vampires. It is treated as an addiction to the feeling of being bitten. I found Phillip fascinating to read about because of this. He has many, many scars where he has willing let Vampires bite him, and I believe he also likes the fear involved. In other words, he likes a Vampire to attack him and not enter his mind or soothe him. Phillip is actually trying to kick the habit, but he escorts Anita to a rendezvous where other people like Phillip and Vampires meet up. Although it causes him pain, he goes to help Anita and becomes a kind of hero, one that I didn’t expect.
I am looking forward to continuing to read the series, and will borrow the next book, The Laughing Corpse, in the series from the library next week. I want to see how the things that happen to Anita play out in the next book, and I am eager to know more about the paranormal beings that exist in Anita’s World. I would like more on the zombies in particular, because I think it’s interesting that Anita is so against Vampirism, yet she brings people back from the dead. I wonder whether the zombies that Anita brings to life are different to what I consider to be a zombie.
Final Verdict: If you like strong female characters and stories about Vampires, you’ll enjoy this book.