When I first started reading this series, the books averaged between 300-350 pages in paperback. This latest entry is 708 pages in hardcover, and it tWhen I first started reading this series, the books averaged between 300-350 pages in paperback. This latest entry is 708 pages in hardcover, and it took me FOREVER to get through it, because the page difference is not made up of more plot. Instead, it has never been more clear that LKH is mining her own humdrum life of polyamory, therapy about polyamory, and working out for filler material to surround increasingly meager and thin “plots,” and dressing it up in allegedly-sexy vampire and lycanthrope clothing. If anything could be said in favor of this drab, hodgepodge, train-of-thought masquerading as a novel, it would be that LKH has really done her part to make the polyamorous community seem less seductive and dangerous to those in monogamous relationships. Nothing, NOTHING, could sound more boring and tedious and less tempting than polyamory as described by LKH, even if it does involves the most physically perfect specimens ever known on earth.
Here’s the basic plot we start out with:
Anita: Some weird shit is happening to people I know. Some boytoy: You ate Marmee Noir. Anita: Yeah. Boytoy: Marmee Noir had the power to make weird shit happen. Anita: I’m with you. Boytoy: Specifically, the exact things that are now happening around you. Anita: Go on. Boytoy: Someone who had absorbed Marmee Noir’s powers, for example, by eating her, would then have the power to make this weird shit happen, even if they didn’t realize they were doing it. Anita: I have no idea what you are saying or why you think it is relevant to mention this now. I really wish someone could figure out what could possibly be causing this weird shit to happen around me.
SPOILER ALERT IT WAS BECAUSE ANITA ATE MARMEE NOIR THAT THE WEIRD SHIT HAPPENED. But that’s not really what matters or what the book spends any time on, really, so don’t worry about it.
Instead, remember the last book, where Anita cracked the case by literally grabbing a computer and praying into it so God would let her talk to the victim on the other end of a web cam? All of a sudden, in this book, Anita has no idea how to use a computer. Getting access to an email attachment suddenly involves waking up one of her men from a dead sleep to accompany her to the vampire computer lab (yes, that’s really a thing) and enter her login and password, because despite not being your grandmother, this is all too complicated and newfangled for her. Hopefully, Apple is working on an iGod app for the rest of us, so we can just pray fervently into our phones and laptops and get instant access to the exact email attachment and/or cat gifs we are looking for at that particular moment.
On the other hand, Anita’s penguin collection makes a rare appearance! So weird to see any mention of something that has any connection to the beginning of this series! But here, it’s used as evidence, once again, of how superior Anita is to other women in every way. In this particular case, she demonstrates her excellence by not really giving a shit about how her boyfriends decorate their shared bedroom, contributing only the penguins and some negative feedback on stuff she doesn’t think she will like (but ends up liking). Anita is the ultimate “guy’s girl,” who just doesn’t understand those silly other girls or the girl things they like (or her own deeply internalized misogyny). Any “girl” stuff Anita likes, on the other hand (like her penguins) is totally fine and also charming.
Despite her claims to have no sense of interior decorating, Anita sure has a lot of opinions about the decorating style of her vampire servant Damian’s girlfriend Cardinale (got that?). The hideously monogamous Cardinale is an “extreme girl,” as evidenced by the fact that she gets jealous and wants a monogamous relationship. This is obviously the wrong way to be a person. Cardinale’s crimes are demonstrated through such grievous sins as decorating her shared bedroom with Damian with a flowered bedspread. I don’t even know why such a monster is allowed to live in this series. I don’t understand why Anita hasn’t gone right out and executed her. But I guess she serves as yet another important object to demonstrate (again) that everyone in a monogamous relationship is either (1) evil and selfish, or (2) trapped in that relationship by the person who is evil and selfish.
Just to drive that point home, Ascher, who was trapped in a monogamous relationship with some dude whose name I can’t really be bothered to remember or look up right now, on account of how Ascher was an abusive dick who also kind of tried to murder everyone, is now ready to become less of an abusive and murderous dick and also less monogamous thanks to - and I am not making this up - therapy and antidepressants. How does that even work? Isn’t vampire physiology pretty different from just human? Can he even eat a solid pill and digest it, or does he have to suck the blood of some medicated depressed person to get his dose? And who, exactly, is this therapist everyone is working with? What therapist specializes in the issues of vampires and were-animals who were born in and were tortured throughout different centuries and now are all in a giant polyamorous relationship with each other? Is there a degree certificate you can take in this? What accrediting agency oversees that?
But we don’t have any time to go into that, because instead we need to spend several dozen pages describing what everyone is wearing at the gym. LKH has really gone overboard with her belief that minutely describing every detail about a person’s physical appearance counts as character development or creating atmosphere. Personally, I don’t think I’ve learned everything there is to know about someone by learning whether their gym shorts are long or short, compression or loose, and what color their hair is and how it is styled for working out. There is also a Highly Dramatic Scene where some new guard messes up his job and picks a (verbal) fight with Anita, and she ends up promising him that she will throw down with him physically at the gym, and they go back and forth for several pages about whether or not she is serious, and when exactly they will schedule this fight, and then...they never fight. The book forgets about the whole incident entirely, because everyone has to go to Ireland.
This brings us all the way up to Chapter 33: Weresnakes On A Plane. Not really, but it would have been more interesting, actually, as opposed to the word-by-word playback of 8 hours of idle plane small talk. For example, page 373:
“So, Mephistopheles, why didn’t you rebel and become the perfect little angel?” I asked…. “I went the other way,” he said, in a voice that almost purred. “I decided to be my name.” “Mephistopheles,” I said. “Devil,” he said.
OMFG and this is at least the 18th time in the book so far that someone has pointed out that Mephistopheles is one of the names for the Devil, and they usually call Mephistopheles “Devil” as his nickname, and often shorten that to “Dev.” Which is short for “Devil.” Because Mephistopheles means “Devil.” I’m not sure you’re getting this. Should I go through it again? You can bet LKH will. She also keeps using the phrase “girl trap” throughout this book, to indicate the act of asking a question you don’t really want an honest answer to, even though at least half the time, they are addressing the accusation to men. This careless misogyny is grosser and more morally objectionable than any of the sex acts anyone gets involved in, frankly.
As usual, once they are actually in Ireland and the “investigation” part of the book has (finally...kind of…) started, Anita is exactly as smart or as stupid as the lazy plotting requires her to be. Her intelligence and competence is not a fixed point around which her reactions to any given plot occurrence can be guessed. No, if a stray idea for a plot point would require Anita to be exceedingly stupid and forget all common sense and experience, then that is what she will do.
For example, she has a blind trust that the police in Ireland will be sufficient to protect her and her friends from a super-strong vampire who wants to kidnap and kill one of their group, even though the police in Ireland had no idea that this vampire or any other vampire lived in Ireland, have no experience with vampires, have non-existent vampire-fighting and -containing equipment, and also actively hate Anita and don’t even want her in the country. But no, I’m sure that will all work out just fine. (SPOILER ALERT THIS DID NOT WORK OUT FINE.) It also extends to Anita saying stuff like (p. 387) “In all the years I’d been intimate with vampires, first hunting them and then sleeping with them, I’d never asked about cloud cover. I mean, if your skin fried in the sunlight, was a cloudy day worth the risk?” … … 25 books, and this is the FIRST time she’s ever dealt with the question of how cloud cover effects vampires? But then, after that, Anita amazes everyone with her mad vampire-hunter skillz by...revealing that she has read an article of relevance to her job. She explains that (basically) she has an RSS feed that sends her relevant stuff on her computer. So...now she CAN use a computer? Or is this something someone else has to print off and read to her?
Whatever. Anita and her friends get captured by the bad guys, who demonstrate their badness by giving Nathaniel an involuntary haircut. Then they get out and everyone is fine (except the people it is more convenient to kill off) and there is the usual 2 page wrap-up of stuff that should have been fully-fleshed-out plot but couldn’t really be explored because of all the gym clothing.
And there is your super-long review of this super-long stupid book. ...more
Way darker than your typical urban fantasy. Our heroine is an unapologetic drug addict, and the people she associates with are not terribly upstandingWay darker than your typical urban fantasy. Our heroine is an unapologetic drug addict, and the people she associates with are not terribly upstanding citizens either. It makes for a gritty but compelling book. ...more
I enjoy the continuing development of this series. In this book, Mercy solidifies her position in the pack, and we get some creepy and interesting timI enjoy the continuing development of this series. In this book, Mercy solidifies her position in the pack, and we get some creepy and interesting time with the fae. ...more
3.5 stars. I really enjoy this series, and I've been waiting impatiently for this one to come out as a complete novel, because I couldn't stand to rea3.5 stars. I really enjoy this series, and I've been waiting impatiently for this one to come out as a complete novel, because I couldn't stand to read it a chapter at a time as it was written! It was a great deal of fun, and I look forward to more. ...more
Kate and Curran continue to be bad-ass and delightful, and the villain Roland is really an amazing creation - powerful and charming and convincing, anKate and Curran continue to be bad-ass and delightful, and the villain Roland is really an amazing creation - powerful and charming and convincing, and also deeply creepy and evil. ...more
Dead Ice begins with one of the most disturbing developments yet in the Anita Blake series - LKH reveals that her long-time editor is retiring. This iDead Ice begins with one of the most disturbing developments yet in the Anita Blake series - LKH reveals that her long-time editor is retiring. This is shocking, because most of us were unaware that there was any editing involved in these books at all. My personal favorite example of the editing in this volume? Page 75 - “I don’t remember the last time you [Jean-Claude] kissed my hand.” I do; it was on page 59 - “He [J-C] laid a light kiss on each of my hands and then a firmer kiss on my mouth.” Do I get a check to help me retire early, too?
As for the actual plot of the book, LKH resurrects more already-dead past storylines than Anita does zombies. Dominga Salvador (remember her from book 2?) is back, or at least someone related to her. We stare at the genitals of Narcissus, the hermaphroditic werehyena from book 10 in the series. Rafael the Rat King gets a brief storyline (that ends up getting dropped entirely midstream). Unlike Anita’s zombies, however, the dead storylines stay pretty unconvincing and lifeless. The book is structured as follows: 10% setting up disturbing zombie porn police scenario, 80% detailed but ultimately pointless conversations with assorted lovers, friends and enemies that end up going nowhere, and then 10% resolving disturbing zombie porn police scenario.
Just to give you a taste of the drama that goes on in the 80% of the book: The media has gone gaga for Anita and Jean-Claude’s engagement, because of the amazing grand gesture JC made for the public announcement. This grand public spectacle consisted of...a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. A dopey tourist ride that hasn’t been original since several centuries before Jean-Claude became a vampire. Pretty mind-blowing, right? But maybe everyone is so entranced because of the fact that Jean-Claude is becoming measurably, metaphysically sexier, and Anita sees this as a problem, for some reason. This is a real plot point in the book.
Not to worry though...Anita has her own stuff going on. Their jeweler compares her looks to Helen of Troy, and the jeweler is apparently old enough to have known Helen in person. HELEN. OF TROY. And yet Anita still whines about how she feels like a clumsy peasant compared to Jean Claude’s king, or a “3” compared to his “twenty bazillion.” She “puts up” with the fact that people treat her AS IF she is attractive, but still can’t accept it, because her stepmother and one guy she dated one time a long time ago said she wasn’t. But she still makes time to bitch about other women who are insecure about their looks and relationships. This is still amazingly tiresome to read about. [By the way, extra editing points for specifically crediting the person who came up with a name for the jewelry store involved here in the introduction for the book, and then never actually using the name of the jewelry store in the book.]
Anita’s necromancy powers are increasing, also. No reason given for the uptick in power, or for why Anita is surprised that pouring all of her power into one zombie makes for a really powerful zombie, when she already knows that she can raise and control hundreds at once. There’s just a long, pointless section about zombies eating at Denny’s (really), and then Anita shrugging it all off to think about another time because she has to go start 86 other conversations and squabbles with people and then never resolve them.
Plus, she has this case she’s sort of working on. Once again, her contributions are stunning and impressive. For example, she notices a calendar in the background of a video, and how there are different months in different videos. Because apparently every good detective knows that you can’t fake the passage of time in a video by using a wall calendar. That’s why hostage negotiators are always asking for proof of life in the form of the victim holding a wall calendar, and not something easily faked like a dated copy of a major newspaper, or something.
However, all that is pretty much irrelevant, because eventually Anita just touches a computer screen and prays to God to let her talk to the zombie on the other side of the live chat, and God lets her, because he really didn’t have anything better to be doing at the moment. I mean...a literal deus ex machina. From there, it’s pretty much all over, aside from some digressions about workouts and weight room set up and the family background of a random Asian SWAT guy who has green eyes, in the middle of a hostage crisis in a graveyard, because Anita is never too busy to have a pointless and boring conversation. The improbable bad guy is taken out, the good guys conclude that they have no idea how he did what he did or why he did it, and no one really tries to find out, because they have to get back to discussing polyamory some more...at least until the next time someone needs Anita to talk to God through a computer screen while looking like Helen of Troy and riding in a carriage, while Jean-Claude sexies all over everyone and sixty other men trail them chanting “tight and wet! Tight and wet!” in praise of Anita’s vagina. ...more
This novella is almost 100% about Jason and Anita setting up and then conducting a sex session that is supposed to include Jason, Anita, Nathanial, JaThis novella is almost 100% about Jason and Anita setting up and then conducting a sex session that is supposed to include Jason, Anita, Nathanial, Jason's girlfriend J.J., and Anita's sort-of girlfriend Jade. The first half of the book is the negotiations for this session, which exceed in scope and detail anything the United Nations has ever attempted. I know Laurell is endlessly fascinated by her own polyamorous life, but as far as I can tell it requires 3.6 million times more talking about having sex than actually having sex, and it sounds exhausting. On the other hand, you do spend paragraphs at a time on highly relevant and character-developing details such as what kinds of tea are available in the cupboard, and which are in loose-leaf as opposed to bag form, and the temperatures at which various people prefer their coffee. Between that and everyone's minutely-described height, hair and eye color, musculature, and bone structure, what else could you need to know about anyone? The second half of the book is the group having sex. The salient points that come out of this are (a) someone reminds Anita that she is both tight and wet, (b) Anita wants to break up with Jade because she is a bummer and not because she is homophobic at all, which is apparently something that needs a lot of clarifying, and (c) Anita thinks that lady parts smell more like beef than fish. I don't recall Anita ever opining on what meats the guys she performs oral sex on smell like.
Oh, and the whole thing starts with a quote from Joseph Campbell, because apparently Laurell has no one on her team to tell her that perhaps highlighting the words of someone whose writing style doesn't immediately make people want to scratch their eyes out in frustration and horror might not be the best strategy. ...more
This is sort of like a less-successful print version of the Showtime series "Penny Dreadful." It's set in an alternate history/steampunk Victorian LonThis is sort of like a less-successful print version of the Showtime series "Penny Dreadful." It's set in an alternate history/steampunk Victorian London, populated by a variety of monsters (both human and...less human) taken from popular horror literature of the time period. The descriptions can be quite lovely, but it never really grabbed me, being a little rushed in the plot and a little trite and expected in its "twists." And, of course, it ends on a cliff-hanger (which, I suppose, could be an homage to the original penny dreadful tradition, but is unsatisfying in a book, nonetheless). ...more
Competent but unoriginal, aside from making the main character a jinn instead of one of the more typical paranormal creatures. Other than that, it's aCompetent but unoriginal, aside from making the main character a jinn instead of one of the more typical paranormal creatures. Other than that, it's a very straightforward paranormal romance. I found myself a bit irritated at the fact that the 1000-year-old heroine kept finding the 20-something hero so "wise," and thought she had so much to learn from him. Really? What have you been doing with yourself for a THOUSAND YEARS, if not learning stuff like "life is hard sometimes"? To be fair, this is pretty much the mirror image of all those vampire romances where the centuries-old hero finds something super-special about a young heroine. It's not much more believable, though. Oh, and if you're tempted to keep reading this in the hopes of a hot resolution between the two, don't bother. No payoff in this book, anyway.
I also found the language almost a little too au courant. The pop culture references were so of-the-moment that it seems like someone even 5 years from now wouldn't remember or recognize half of them, which means that this story won't have much staying power. Also interesting to note that the main character is described as "Leila" in the Goodreads description, but is "Lyla" in the book itself. ...more
I stayed up way past my bedtime just so I could finish this. P.N. Elrod's talent for compelling writing that seems effortless is in full effect, here.I stayed up way past my bedtime just so I could finish this. P.N. Elrod's talent for compelling writing that seems effortless is in full effect, here. Terrific characters, an interesting setting, and an ending that was both satisfying and left me wanting to read more in the series. ...more
Like the stars say, it was okay. It has been apparent that Carrie Vaughn wanted to move on to other projects for the past few books now, and the moreLike the stars say, it was okay. It has been apparent that Carrie Vaughn wanted to move on to other projects for the past few books now, and the more recent ones lack a lot of the energy and surprise of the earlier volumes. It was nice to get a little time with some old friends from the series, but this definitely had the feel of checking off items from a list as opposed to deeply felt literary project. ...more
Yet another magical universe for the Ilona Andrews husband/wife author team, with different magical rules and consequences. Their great female heroineYet another magical universe for the Ilona Andrews husband/wife author team, with different magical rules and consequences. Their great female heroines are a constant in each of their series, and I appreciate that. I also like the eccentric families that surround the characters in both this series and the Edge books (family in the Kate Daniels books is...a little more complicated). Another thing that stays the same, though, is the One True Alpha Male Romantic Lead across all of the series. Him, I'm less fond of. They're always a little over the top, for my tastes. They're all so very manly that people on the streets literally either run away from them or stare with their mouths open, overcome by such a supremely manly presence, and they're all pretty much jerks to women (except our heroines, eventually, because they are DIFFERENT), and they really don't do much for me. ...more
More of a 2.5, but I rounded up because I love Carey. It was an enjoyable series, overall, but didn't stick the landing. The climactic battle was resoMore of a 2.5, but I rounded up because I love Carey. It was an enjoyable series, overall, but didn't stick the landing. The climactic battle was resolved with a strangely literal deus ex machina that seemed rushed and left more questions than it answered (nor will they be answered, since this is the end of the series), and the resolution of the love triangle was even more abrupt and unsatisfying. ...more