With "Narcissus in Chains," Laurell K. Hamilton switched her format from blood'n'suspense to sex, blood and endless superpowers for her self-insert, Anita Blake.
And sadly "Cerulean Sins" only continues that tradition, couching a meager plot in endless supernatural sex and increasingly purple prose. But even that might be tolerable if Hamilton's idtastic heroine did not waft through the book, expecting all males to put up with her mood-swings, molestation and manipulation. Think the worst fanfiction Mary Sue ever written by a twelve-year-old Hot Topic shopper.
Anita has just finished a zombie raising when Asher arrives with a message: Belle Morte's emissary Musette has arrived unexpectedly. It turns out that she's come there to toy with Jean-Claude and torment Asher -- and even worse, she intends to use the scarred vampire for her sadistic pleasure. If he isn't the sex partner of a more powerful person, she's free to do it.
However will Anita fix this? By stabbing Musette and hopping in the sack with Asher, of course!
While Anita deals with her deteriorating relationship with the police -- it's their fault rather than hers, of course -- she also must deal with a series of murders, and strange men following her. But the main problem is Belle Morte, who has taken a person interest in Anita -- and whose emissary is still able to cause trouble for Anita's "people." And possibly death for Asher.
Some lip service is paid to a serial killer and a gang of secret agents who, of course, want to enlist Anita's oh-so-impressive services. But that's not where Laurell K. Hamilton's interests lie -- it's pretty clear she is focusing on the endless parade of "who's on top?" vampire politics and all its courtly trappings, and in writing maybe/maybe not sex scenes.
Problem is, she's not very good at it. The supposedly courtly etiquette of the vampires is staggeringly dull, with much hilarious talk of "American sex" (your basic sex) versus "European sex" (just about any kind of physical contact). And the sex scenes require endless before-during-after talking and ridiculous angst. At least two pages are required to get Asher out of his underwear. And her attempts at compelling, intense scenes -- such as the were rescue squad or the long-distance prods of Belle Morte -- end up laughably melodramatic.
Worst of all, no sense of humor -- despite Anita's oh-so-witty barbs, the funniest line in the whole book is Asher announcing that he's known saints and priests who did not have the self-control of a nymphomaniacal narcissist. Add Hamilton's endless descriptions of anime-style flowing hair and brightly-colored eyes, and you have a recipe for tedious, slow-moving slogging.
It's pretty evident that Anita is self-absorbed and not very bright, as well as a glaring Mary Sue with contrived angst and unreal sex powers. Everyone (including the villain and the government) wants her, because she's so tough and special, and despite the fact that she's utterly abrasive and a raging narcissist. Hamilton tries to cover this with protestations that she "loves" all the guys around her, but it's never convincing.
But over the course of "Cerulean Sins" she becomes truly loathsome: emotionally manipulating the vulnerable, endlessly sniping at Richard, and refusing to let Asher leave unless he has sex with her. And while she admits that it's massively hypocritical to insist that Jean-Claude be faithful to her alone while she has sex with anything that will hold still, she insists on it anyway.
Poor Asher. He gets put through the wringer in this one. After being stabbed by an old flame, he has to deal with Anita lying and manipulating him so he'll have "European sex" with her, and apparently not caring how distraught it makes him. The poor guy deserves better.
"Cerulean Sins" is a long, tedious slog of painfully boring sex, painfully boring dialogue, and painfully boring vampire politics that exists just to be talked about. A ghastly experience.Read more ›
Having begun with Guilty Pleasures and read with constant enjoyment up through the first hundred pages of "Narcissus in Chains", I feel tricked and cheated. I had hoped with the last book that Hamilton would steer the series back on course, and that hope was hideously thwarted. Both "Narcissus in Chains" and "Cerulean Sins" are colossal disappointments for anyone who read for mystery, crime drama--or anything, really, other than sex. Almost all of the major relationships in these books have been destroyed or relegated to the back burner, and anyone who disagrees with Anita gets pages full of badmouthing. It's tiresome, tedious, poorly plotted, and not much more than an endless and emotionless sexathon. The edge Anita's tangled love life gave the books is gone. The promise of the TRI--the metaphysical and emotional entanglement between Anita, Richard the Ulfric, and the vampire, Jean-Claude--has been destroyed by Anita's unceasing selfishness and incredible demands. I adored Richard, and Micah, Anita's "soulmate" as introduced in "Narcissus in Chains", is a one dimensional, contrived, gutless wonder, and an absolutely pitiful substitute for the vastly fulfilling Richard and Anita dynamic. He is much more of a Stepford Wife than any kind of believable partner, with only one endowment to recommend him. Fans that look to "Cerulean Sins" for resolution of Richard and Anita's dilemma will be sorely, and bitterly, disappointed. Richard gets little page space, and most of that is spent with Anita's internal wondering of "how long it would be before she hated him." Less time than it takes for the devoted to begin to hate you, Anita. There are no good aspects of this book. The mystery is underhand, poorly developed, and is more an afterthought than any active device of the plot. It is resolved in a slipshod manner that is to me indicative of Hamilton's poor opinion of her readers. The plot devices are contrived, the vampire villainess less than believable. It is remarkable that a villainess can consume so much page space and still manage to accomplish so little. Most importantly, as far as being relevatory of Anita's abrupt personality transplant, is the destruction of her relationships with all of the human, or humanish, characters in these books. It is only the characters that embrace Anita no matter what that win Anita's and the author's stamp of approval; Dolph, Ronnie, and Richard in particular have been treated abominably. Dolph was throughout the series a rock, and his breakdown is poorly planned and poorly executed. Anita speaks repeatedly of getting rid of Ronnie, her long-time "best girlfriend," apparently for the dastardly crime of daring to question Anita's lifestyle choices. The characters have been reduced, almost in toto, to poor caricatures of what they once were. It makes for bland and occasionally offensive reading. With "Narcissus in Chains", I was looking for the book I had somehow missed between pages 100-101. With "Cerulean Sins", I'm looking for the other half of the book that was somehow swallowed up by meaningless automaton sex. The ardeur, which might have had interesting possibilities, is merely a device for Anita to sleep with almost all the main and secondary characters...and the ones Anita managed not to sleep with this time are assured of getting their turn in the next book. I am disgusted with the way the promise of the TRI has been sold out, and disgusted with the author for such sloppy writing. If she can't write two series well, don't try. The readers are getting shortchanged on both ends of the spectrum. The only way I would consider continuing with this increasingly Anita-worshipping cult of a series is if Anita were to get over her fiance in college, Richard was restored to the man we fell in love with back in "Circus of the Damned", Micah were killed, and the ardeur was relegated to the background it deserved: another need, and not one that we need to hear every detail about fulfilling. I have no problem with sex and violence, but only when they serve the plot. Largely due to the sex, there is, in "Cerulean Sins", not much plot to speak of.Read more ›
I was a big fan and kept reading because I kept hoping that LKH would get a good therapist to help her deal with her personal sexual frustrations and get back to writing the stories of the characters she created. Nope. Not going to happen. Each Anita book seems to sink to a new low with total lack of substance and plot. Even worse, LKH seems to be determined to destroy each beloved character piece by piece. She seems to have few tools in her writing tool box: no plot? Insert new power and new sex partner here! Shoddy editing does these books no favours. I've read interviews where the author says she doesn't care what the readers think about the direction her series has taken. It may be her right to write garbage but it's my perogative not to buy it. See you in the bargain bin, Anita. I'm done.
Laurell K. Hamilton is aging well, but her Anita Blake series is not. The eleventh volume of the fantasy-horror series is heavy on supernatural sex and light on plot. While Hamilton comes up with a handful of cool ideas for "Cerulean Sin," her book is sunk by an irritating heroine and a plot relegated to subplot status.
St. Louis is swarming with vampires, werecreatures, and who knows what else. And Anita Blake is in the thick of it, enmeshed with all of the above. Now with her personal life in an uproar, she still has to hunt down a very messy serial killer who can change his shape -- and unfortunately, she's not getting a lot of help from the more typical police authorities.
But things get even more difficult when a sadistic vampire, Musette, arrives and demands that the traumatized Asher come back with her to super-vampire Belle Morte. Since Belle Morte once tormented Asher, Anita ain't about to let him go. So now she has a mystery serial killer, and a very angry ancient vampire on her tail -- things are starting to get a lot worse.
Try reading this book while skipping over the erotica, as I did. I guarantee you'll be done in less than half an hour. Sex is the new supernatural in Hamilton's series, and the actual plot starts slipping into the shadows. Where does the plot go? It gets buried in Anita's many vaguely disturbing and very detailed sexual encounters. To thumb her nose at Belle Morte, is it necessary for Anita to bed Asher? Not really. But it still happens.
Hamilton seems to be on strong footing with some of the plot elements. Super-vampire Belle Morte is quite cool, as is the intricate vampire politics. But really, readers can only take so much of Anita's self-adoration before the narrative gets tiresome. The sex scenes -- it's impossible to miss every page -- are clinical and dull, and the climax is more of a sputter.
Anita herself is the biggest problem -- if she doesn't like someone, she offs them. And she apparently will do the wild thing with any guy who says yes. And everyone adores her, and never disagrees with her. Yeah, she's really easy to relate to -- she's more Mary Sue than Dirty Harry. Her new boyfriend Micah has big body parts but no personality. Richard is the only one of Hamilton's characters who acts like a real person. Despite Hamilton's efforts to convince us that he's crazy, it's hard not to sympathize with the poor guy.
"Cerulean Sins" is more of a sickly blue annoyance. Hamilton's eleventh Blake book is a collection of vague narcissism, riddled with weird sex and weirder characters. An exercise in mediocrity.Read more ›