Are you a fan of supernatural crime fiction with a strong female protagonist? Then why haven’t you read Anita Blake:Vampire Hunter yet?
These were the questions posed to me over a year ago when I was introduced to the series written Laurell K. Hamilton. I’m always leary of new vampire fiction, especially after a certain series about sparkly vampires was introduced to the market. Luckily, once I got my hands on this new Guilty Pleasure (Book 1) I was hooked and sucked (vampire pun!) into a series that somehow fell outside my radar for a long time. Anita Blake is not the usual female lead I am prone to follow. She’s religious (former Catholic, now Episcopal), has a conservative outlook on relationships, and she works in a male dominated field of preternatural crime helping to raise the dead as a part-time animator and killing rogue vampires that have broken the law. In a world where vampires, shapeshifters, faeries and other preternatural creatures all have legal rights there is now a special police task force, bounty hunters, and freelancers who collect bounties on supernatural beings that haven’t become accustomed to playing by the law of the land. Anita Blake is not shy, speaks her mind even when it’s not the best moment, carries multiple handguns, knives, and Holy objects at all times for protection. She can handle her own in the boys club and has proven herself time and time again, and has the scars to prove it.
While the series starts out as a crime and horror fiction, it slowly changes over time to include a lot more adult themes of a sexual nature. At first I was caught off guard by this change in the story. However, I am not one to complain about fantasy fiction with multiple hot men vying for the affections of a strong female who is constantly turning them down. Despite Anita’s lack of romantic interests in the beginning the of series she gets more than she bargains for once she starts dating a lycanthrope and a vampire. At the same time. Its weird. They totally address it, and it’s hilarious. While some fans strayed from the series once it focused less on crime and horror and more on fantasy, supernatural politics, and more tantalizing stories with Anita’s makeshift harem of men it doesn’t keep her from getting into trouble.
Of course, she is not without her weaknesses as a human running around with vampires and shapeshifters. Anita is a relatable character who has a stubborn habit of taking matters into her own hands and covering them in blood. At the end of the first few books she is almost always beaten bloody and has a few broken bones and new scars. She embraces the dangerous realities in her line of work by admitting she is mortal and can die at any time, but Anita can take a hit and throw a knife as straight as an arrow. One of my favorite moments much later in the series is when Anita orders a custom sheath for a short-sword she carries on her back, which is hidden by her long black hair and black leather jacket. It comes in handy when you have to chop off the head of a vampire to make sure its dead. While typically I am not a fan of guns or swords Laurell K. Hamilton does an amazing job researching and describing a lot of the handguns and knives Anita and her colleagues use. Not only is she a street smart character, she’s also book smart with a bachelors degree in preternatural biology and a black belt in Judo. What’s not to love?
I could go on and on with more juicy details of Anita’s exploits, there are over 20 books after all, but you have to read it to believe it. I must also admit I’m a sucker for serialized fiction and once I realized there were so many books to catch up on I couldn’t help but devour the whole series last summer. Thanks to my friend for lending me most of the books so I didn’t have to spend my entire paycheck buying paperbacks last year. The series also inspired me to get a library card to ensure I didn’t bury myself in a new collection of books. Take it from me with summer around the corner there are more stories out there to discover, with or without a library card.
Until we bite again.