Saturday, 19 October 2013

Review: Guilty Pleasures by Laurel K Hamilton

This book was published in 1993 a year after The Buffy the Vampire Slayer film was released and five years before BTVS the series aired so I don't know how much Hamilton was influenced by Whedon or how much Whedon was influenced by Hamilton but this book is very Buffyesque. The protagonist, Anita Blake, is a abnormally strong, fast quipping, vampire slayer and "necromancer" or animator, someone who can raise the dead for the purpose of settling wills or solving murders. She is so good at what she does that among vampires she is known as "the executioner"

It was an easy, engaging read, interesting enough, the only bits that seem to drag were the ones that were supposed to be romantic, but that may be as much about my complete uninterest in romance as about the writing style . I also think I'm not really the target demographic for the book, although the protagonist is 24, it reads very much like a teen/young adult book.

The book touches lightly, very lightly, on "big" questions such as what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a killer even if you do it under the blessing of the law? What would happen if religion became obsolete? I think it could have investigated these questions on a deeper level.

 There was a lot of Expecting Someone Taller as there is in Buffy too, and it made me wonder if in these cases it was code for "expecting someone male."

I thought the relationship between Anita and her friend, Ronnie, was interesting and real, both close and complicated as women's friendships often are. I really liked the way they trusted and depended on each other and the way they worried about each other. It seemed Ronnie was the only person who genuinely cared about Anita without any ulterior motives. which is pretty radical because women are so often writen as competting with and scheming against each other. I really would have liked to see more of Anita and Ronnie's interactions

I liked Anita's fallibility and vulnerabilities, her existing scars, her understanding that there's a really high price for what she does but she chooses to do it anyway. The scene where the vampire bite in her neck was being cleaned with holy water made me cringe but it was part of a running thread through the book about the pain and discomfort and danger she was prepared to go through to keep her city safe

Hamilton is not a writer I would seek out but if I stumble across her books I wouldn't turn them down either and I can totally see why someone fifteen or so years younger than me would love them

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