Desert Isle Keeper
Be warned: the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series is not for the faint of heart. I have to say that, because I’ve read Kim Newman and Elaine Bergstrom and other vampire stories, and I still cringed at times as I read Guilty Pleasures. The continuing saga of the very normal woman who chooses to make it her life’s work to rid the world of evil beings is violent, filled with plenty of gore and carnage, and very unsettling. And completely irresistible.
Anita works for Animators, Inc., a business that charges money for bringing people back from the dead – the longer the person has been dead, the higher the fee. Anita, however, is also known as The Executioner, and she carries the physical and emotional scars of having killed and been nearly killed by vampires. If immigration is a problem in our day, imagine what it’s like in the world Ms. Hamilton has created, where the United States is one of the few places that have given rights to vampires and the undead (be it vampire, ghoul, etc.) are no longer limited to the reality of horror movies.
Now, someone (aside from Anita) is killing vampires, and the Master vampire of the city, angelic-faced demon-girl Nikolaos, will go to any length to convince Anita to find out who is doing the killings, even threatening her loved ones and nearly killing Anita herself along the way. Anita relents and agrees to take the job, understanding that there is no other choice.
Anita can trust no one; not Jean-Claude, the seductive vampire who seems to have a soft spot for her but leads her to danger, not weak and flirtatious Philip, addicted to the pain and pleasure of letting a vampire do as he or she will. Those she can trust she pushes away, refusing to endanger them, and those with the best intentions can do very little against the enormous power Nikolaos wields, and they often end up being punished if they try to help or defend Anita.
Guilty Pleasures is filled with disturbing scenes and even more disturbing characters. Virtually everywhere and everyone Anita turns to leads to danger, and she follows willingly, because she knows there is no one else who can do it. Nightmares may plague her and injuries may pile up until there is little of her that is not bruised or cut or battered but Anita fights on, not in an arrogant way, but because the alternative – where there is no one left to fight evil – is too horrifying to consider.
Written in the first person (something I usually avoid unless the writer is Diana Gabaldon or Janet Evanovich), this is a rollercoaster ride that we share with Anita. We’re there when she makes yet another smart-ass comment and as she tries to keep Nikolaos from taking over her mind. When I began this book I thought it was a sick kind of fascination that kept me turning the pages even though I should have been sleeping. As I delved more into Anita’s story, however, I realized that the hook may be a horrible reality, but what will make me buy the next installment is a very well-crafted story and a wonderful heroine.