Laurell K. Hamilton's principal strength as a writer is the vividness of the worlds she creates. Her universes are so evocative it keeps readers coming back for more. One main weakness is an imperfect grasp of the basics of writing. Twenty years ago, editors and proofreaders would have smoothed some of these wrinkles. Nowadays, the author is on their own.
After several installments where Merry's storyline advanced in mincing half steps (Seduced by Moonlight, A Stroke of Midnight, Mistral's Kiss), the previous book, A Lick of Frost, showed marked plotting improvement. I was restless with anticipation for book seven.
In Swallowing Darkness, the pace is breakneck. Sadly, the plot advances and answered questions come hurtling at the reader's head with little regard for pacing, transitions, or style. Major plot points depends on Merry and others doing something stupid and (with respect) out of character. It seems as if Ms. Hamilton is tired of wrestling with a protagonist other than Anita Blake, and wants to dump all the answers to Merry's story in our laps and wash her hands of the whole universe.
While I enjoyed discovering the resolution to many of plot questions, I continue to be frustrated at how this author fails to grow as a writer. I'm so tired of last chapters where a few sentences of plot exposition attempt to tidy away unraveled loose ends. As a reader of much amateur published fiction (fanfic) I'm familiar with the prima donna creator who never gets any better because she refuses to regard any of the basics as important, and spurns constructive criticism or editing. Sadly, Ms. Hamilton continues to be such a writer, and therefore rates 3 stars for this outing, instead of the 4 or 5 stars she could achieve.