Well, there’s good news, great news, and unfortunatly some bad news to accompany Laurell K Hamilton’s latest release. The good news is that there’s a plot and it’s better than Narcissus in Chains. The great news is that there’s barely any Micah at all, which had me jumping for joy. But there’s some bad news too. My first thought when I closed the book was, “Thank God I’m done with that – now I can read something I enjoy!” Get ready for more Anita, many men, more new magic, and more gore.
When we last saw Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, she was still hooked up with Master Vampire Jean-Claude but had left old boyfriend Richard behind for good. She’d also picked up a new, bland, boring, and effeminate-looking boyfriend in Micah. In Cerulean Sins, Musette – representing Belle Morte, the head of Jean-Claude’s line of vamps – is in town with her coven for clearly nefarious reasons. Belle holds a grudge because Jean-Claude and Asher left her and didn’t return to the fold and because Anita managed to offend her (imagine that!) in an earlier book. Musette not only represents Belle, but at times embodies her, and when she tries to force Asher to return with her, Anita must decide if she can truly be intimate with Asher to save him.
Fair warning here. I don’t read with the type of detail recall that leads to intense analysis about what’s changed in the Anitaverse. Lord knows I wish I could because I’ve read some excellent analyses of this book. Legions of fans hated Narcissus in Chains. I was on the fence. I definitely hated the direction of Richard’s character and the arrival of Micah (I can’t describe my feelings for him better than Jen S. did in her review). However I liked the action in that book, and yes, I enjoyed Anita being less uptight about her sexuality. She doesn’t backslide here. In fact, she goes a little farther.
Anita is the most powerful she’s ever been, and accepts herself more than in the past. One thing new for this book that we haven’t seen in a while is a client for Anita. That plot point comes full circle and reappears at the end of the book. Her involvement in the murder case adds another layer of action while giving readers yet another subplot to keep track of. Anita’s latest addition to her powers is not magical – it’s federal. Thanks to a convenient law, Anita is now a federal marshal and can investigate any preternatural crime.
I never have been a Jean-Claude fan. Any guy who regularly dresses in ruffled shirts doesn’t seem all that manly or masterful to me. He shows a little more backbone to Anita here than he has in previous books and actually gets mad at her. Wow. Then he ruins it by forgiving her. Glimpses of Jean-Claude truly being the master vampire he is around Musette and her crew remind readers that he’s actually a powerful guy.
Richard is still around but spends a good chunk of the book depressed and trying to get himself killed. He finally decides to live and show some backbone and force and actually manages to save the day once or twice. Yet he still ends up looking like an idiot as everyone else thinks how childish and naïve he is to just not get it. I did love his line when he asks Anita something that a lot of readers wonder: “Does everyone want to f— you?”
I was happy to see Jason take on a bigger role here. He’s usually the funny, annoying guy, but here, with added sex appeal, he finally gets some attention from Anita in that way. He also serves as the truth teller who makes her realize some things about how she approaches love. I want more of this Jason. Asher also gives Anita honesty and forces her to face her issues with him as well.
While plot-wise things mesh together better here than in Narcissus In Chains, several little things annoyed me. Jean-Claude’s complete overuse of ma petite as his pet name for Anita got on my very last nerve. Does he have to say it every time he speaks to her? Pet names are more effective in small doses. As usual, the cast is in the thousands, but luckily there aren’t that many new characters to track. And Hamilton’s endless description of clothing, decorating and other minutiae slows down the action. I got a great laugh at the multiple misspellings of the word “jurisdiction” as “jurisTiction” six times on one page – copy editors, are you listening?
I used to like Anita more than I do now, and I think I finally figured out why. She’s too world weary. She used to be a kick-ass heroine with lots of attitude and snark. She amused me. Now she tires me, and I really want someone to kick her ass just once. I think I’ve finally had enough of Anita to give up on the hardbacks. I just don’t care enough anymore, despite the promise of more vampire council maneuverings and the waking of the Mother of Darkness.