Wealhtheow's Reviews > Skin Trade

Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton
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's review
Jan 05, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: paranormal_romance, urban-fantasy, fantasy
Read 2 times. Last read January 4, 2010.

Hamilton burst into my awareness with Guilty Pleasures, a book that introduced us to a world where vampires were legal citizens, raising the dead was a viable career, and small women who collected penguin-themed tchotchkes could nevertheless be respected police consultants. Anita Blake was a young reanimator who just wanted to do the right thing, and although she could not deny her attraction to the sensuous vampire Jean-Claude (ahahahahahahah), she never let her personal life interfere with her job. The books were a little cheesy, but the plots were good and Anita's inner monologue was entertaining. But every book or so, Hamilton would introduce another magic power and another love interest--and by book 10, Anita had become the most Mary-Sueish Mary-Sue that ever Mary-Sued. Reading about her just wasn't fun anymore, and the plots themselves had turned from gorey police procedurals into excuses for increasingly shameless porn.

But. I just couldn't stay away. Hamilton was the first paranormal romance I ever read, and to my mind, the main progenitor of the genre. I wanted to know if she'd managed to pull herself from the brink of complete un-readability. And you know what? She actually did. Sure, Anita is still insanely overpowered. (She is the strongest necromancer ever, has vampiric strength, is psychic, has the strongest shields anyone has ever seen, can control at least five different breeds of were, has the most vampire kills in the world, plus has some sort of godlike "ardeur" power that makes her feed off of people's anger or arousal. And I'm probably forgetting a power or two.) And yes, Anita has so many beautiful supernatural boyfriends that I'm pretty sure she herself can't tell them apart. And ok, most of this book is just everyone talking to her about how she's so strong and badass and bold and sexy. And, it must be said, Hamilton has gotten increasingly awful with consent--Anita has sex with a mind-controlled sixteen year old, and in the climax of the book is basically blackmailed into sex. It's sketchy at best.

But there's a plot! And Edward's back! None of her boyfriends spend more than a few pages on-screen! Anita spends a lot of time talking about weapons and fictional laws about vampire crimes! The series has not returned to its glory days, but it's definitely gotten better since I last read it. And, though I take issue with Hamilton's views on what counts as sex, plot, and relatable characters, this was an enthralling book. Once I started it, I didn't put it down till I was done.
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