Top critical review
What a sin
on November 25, 2009
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.