In my Bookshelf Tour post [here] I talked briefly about the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K Hamilton. Book 25 is due to come out on October 11 2016, and so a ReRead-A-Long is happening, and you can join in [here]. I will be participating in it, and will also be posting reviews of each book that is currently being read. Since as of this week I am 9 books behind, I will be posting a review every couple of days until I catch up, and then I will just do a review per week (aside from other posts/reviews).
I have been doing an annual ABVH reread every year, since the first time I read the books (aside from just rereading some of them on their own), but this is my first time doing something other than that to celebrate a new book coming out.
Me and Anita Blake go way back to six years ago. The summer of 2010 I had just finished middle school, and was on my way to starting high school. While picking my mandatory summer reading booklist for my upcoming literature classes, I came upon the Bulgarian translation of Guilty Pleasures. I had been aware of the existence of this series, because I’d seen several copies of Burnt Offerings in the vampire sections of other bookstores, and looking at the cover, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. When I handed it to my dad at checkout, with the pile of other books I needed for school, he regarded the cover with raised eyebrows “Is this some kind of dark erotica?” he asked carefully. Outraged I said “No! It’s about vampires, Dad!” Ten books later, I would turn out to be so, so wrong.
I did end up getting it. I took it with me on a trip to Switzerland and finished it on the plane there. It took me the full three hours of the plane ride, and when I finished it, I was hooked. The truth is, I don’t know how to be objective about ABVH, and I certainly don’t know how to talk about the books without talking about my early teenage years. In many ways, they were as formative for me as my education was. I started writing seriously because of these books (meaning, I started writing original, and not fanfiction), and I made one of my first, and most true friends through our shared love of vampires. Looking back to that sunny summer, when I was so young, I can’t even imagine that there was ever a version of my life without ABVH in it.
ABVH is set in a version of the world where vampires and wereanimals and witches have always existed, but have only recently become legal citizens in the United States and some parts of Europe. This might sound similar to the premise of True Blood, but ABVH actually predates it by a few years, and the storylines and characters are vastly different. The titular character Anita Blake is an animator who raises the dead for a living, and is also a licensed vampire hunter, working vampire-related crime cases with her local police unit. She becomes entangled in Saint Louis’ vampire politics (and in Saint Louis’ vampires –winkwink-) and from then on it game on.
Guilty Pleasures is a fantastic read on its own, even if you don’t read the rest of the series. It’s action packed, and fun, and the writing style is absolutely wonderful. Over the years I’ve grown accustomed to LKH’s fast-paced writing, that manages to be both descriptive and full of attention to detail, and move the story along without burdening the reader with things they don’t need to know. The first person narrative works for Anita in ways that first person narrative rarely works, managing to be immersive without alienating the reader. The humor is dry and witty, and so, so relatable.
It’s not your typical vampire romance, which is something I appreciated even then, having freshly come out of my Twilight phase (well, I hadn’t fully left it then. I was still waiting for the last of the movies to come out, before I could close that chapter of my vampire obsession), even though there is plenty of romance in the series, and spoiler: it’s not all heterosexual either (or monogamous, or vanilla). In fact, rereading Guilty Pleasures, I feel like I’m getting to parts of it that teenage me might have glossed over, and being able to appreciate all these fine details gives me a renewed appreciation for the first instalment in the series I so love.
I genuinely hope some of the readers of this blog will be interested in joining the (Re)Read-A-Long, and will discover what a fantastic book series they’ve been missing their whole entire lives.