Let me get a drink. No, a bigger drink. Right, let’s dive into this one
When this book started I actually felt hope. Actual, real hope. Because we had a storyline – an actual storyline that drew on previous world building and involved Anita working with the police and solving crime and even *gasp* actually doing zombie stuff. It was the same kind of false hope Affliction gave me. Alas, hope is a cruel, fickle mistress
We opened with Anita helping to track down a zombie sex trafficking ring, a ring that has zombies with souls being used as sex slaves which is something that she’s seen before. It could have been interesting, involved lots of police work and woo-woo…. Except after that introduction we then put that entire storyline on hold for over 300 pages, it barely comes up again for the rest of the book. Whyyy? You had a plot here! There was plot! Why ignore it?
So what did we have instead? Endless humping? Actually no, the last few Anita Blake books have actually managed to escape the trap of being porn. Rather than have endless sex we tend to have endless talking about who Anita should have sex with
This is not better.
Part of what consumes the book is the sheer longwindedness of distractions which I’ve said over and over. Anita is investigating a crime, so why are we spending this much time talking about her engagement with one of the FBI agents? Before they even play the tape (they have tapes? Actual tapes? Who has tapes? I’m sure there’s a whole generation of actual adults now who don’t even know what a tape is) with the terribad zombie porn on it, we have 2 solid pages of them discussing how terrible it will be and how the site will bother them. 2 pages. Just play the damn tape already – mooooove.
This is the writing throughout the book. That same scene with them waiting to play the tape comes with an aside about the ethics/morality/opinions of Anita marrying a vampire (why are you discussing it with these people? Is no-one here going to pretend to be a professional?). The entire first chapter is literally “we need you to look at these tapes” which they don’t watch until chapter 2! And even then they start discussing the police force’s acronym before playing the tape. The acronym.
Again I have to say how this continues through the book with lots of pointless moments like super-excessive description of the gym/showers under the Circus of the Damned or just endless recaps of her many many many many relationships or her spending like 5 pages deciding which shifters can share a bed with her so she can heal.
So other than long windedness, what else fills the space?
That’s the problem – there’s less a plot here but more a series of events that don’t really add anything or help in anyway to advance the story or expand anything – they’re just random encounters. Like there’s a painfully long diversion in a book where Anita raises a zombie and it all goes a little wrong so they have to fix it. There’s some ghouls in there as well. And the whole thing could have been cut and made into a short story because it wasn’t even slightly relevant to the main plot, the storyline or add anything to the character or the world building or anything else
There’s some random woo-woo going on which changes Micah’s shapeshiftyness. There’s Jean-Claude and Anita’s wedding. There’s Asher again screwing everything up just because. There’s Narcissus screwing everying up just because.
But there’s also a lot of mini scenes that just bemuse me. Like a scene where Anita has to spend a painfully long time putting an uppity werewolf in his place for sexualising her (more on that later). Or another scene where Anita has to. Oh and one of the werelions is beating up another werelion and Meng Die is being all nasty about it and Rafael is facing fights for leadership oh and the jeweller Jean-Claude has chosen to design their wedding rings is actually secretly in love with… OH MY GODS WHO CARES?! WHY IS THIS HERE! WHY? WHY AM I READING PAGES ABOUT THE DAMN JEWELLER YOU HIRED?! WHY?!
This is the book. Endless, pointless nonsense scenes after endless pointless nonsense scenes all randomly glued together without any sense of whether they’re relevant or not. And it wouldn’t be so bad if I had even the slightest faith that ANY of these storylines would go anywhere. I mean Micah and Raphael struggling politically and facing threats? INTERESTING STORYLINE! Can we do this? Can we examine this? No because we have the fecking tigers
Yes, the fecking tigers. Because of some random prophecy someone just remembered we now have to have Anita marry a tiger. Which means looking through all the various tigers and seeing who is possible and who isn’t and why with lots of angst and pouting and relationship nonsense and hurt feelings and pouting and aaaaaagle whyyyyyy?
Then ironic thing is I’m pretty sure the Anita Blake series is supposed to be totally pro-polygamy, all very positive about multi-person relationships and how wonder they were (Afflication wasn’t exactly subtle about this), but it fails epicly. The polyamory presented in this series is PAINFULLY hard work. Anita’s romantic and family lie is a trainwreck of constant struggle constant angst, constant jealously, constantly juggling and balancing endless hurt feelings and woe. Anita Blake’s love life is one full of angst, pain, upset, various people having their hearts broken, Anita Blake being utterly self-centred and pretty indifferent as to how her clan interacts between them. Generally, polyamory is presented as an emotional trainwork, extremely hard work with lots of jealousy and sniping and spite with a level of drama that consumes your life
It’s not positive.
This book continues the theme of being utterly toxic to LGBTQ people as well. No doubt many people have hard of the Kinsey Scale, raging from 0 (exclusively attracted to people of the opposite sex) through to 6 (exclusively attracted to people of the same-sex)
Well in the Anitaverse it also comes with a contempt level – the higher up the Kinsey scale you are, the less important you’ll be through to you actually being terrible and contemptible and pathetic
So, the main characters are all either completely straight or completely straight but they have one exception no-homo-no-homo-no-homo and can’t mention that exception without totally mentioning how they’re not into the same-sex. Again. These characters are the main, important characters who have a level of respect and importance in the book: Anita, Richard, Micah, Jean-Claude, Raphael. These are the important alphas who may dip into same-sex sex but are definitely straight barring the odd exception
Then we have bisexuals who lean towards the opposite sex like Nathaniel. They’re not as alpha or in charge as the straight-with-exceptions folk but we can still respect them because at least they prefer the opposite sex and only bring up same-sex loving occasionally and when Anita thinks it’s hot (because fetishism continues). After that we have bisexuals who seem to be equally inclined both ways – Devil (yes really) who so far is pretty much a non-character except for moping and his weakness in the last book(yup, that pattern again).