Aug 8, 2010

Ardeur - Vampire Book Review

Ardeur: 14 Writers on the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series
Laurell K. Hamilton (Editor)
Smart Pop (April 6, 2010)

It wasn't until May 2000 that Laurell K Hamilton realized how popular she had become. While attending readings by Nebula Award winners at a NYC Barnes and Noble fans spotted her name tag and began gathering. When the readings had finished Barnes and Noble had to give her a table of her own because of the huge number of people wanting the signature of LKH on their book. This occasion was not exactly overnight success. She had spent years a book signings where one or two people or maybe no one showed an interest.

This scene comes from the first essay by LKH which proceeds the article Giving the Devil her due by Nick Mamatas. Nick said something quite interesting, "The Anita Blake series earned its popularity by doing something very little fantasy and horror did in the 1990s: it took women seriously."

From the contributions by LKH readers learn a lot about what was going on in her life at the time each of the Anita Blake novels was written. Her approach is one of honesty and at times reads like a confessional memoir but sincere and never over the top.

Guilty Pleasures was the first book in the series. At that time Laurell says, "When I started writing Anita Blake over a decade ago I was a devout Episcopalian, married to the man I lost my virginity to, and whose virginity I took as well."  So for any one who read Guilty Pleasures the high sexual tension explodes from every page, however, Anita does not indulge. In fact LKH initially planned that Anita would not have sex at all, ever. She was to remain celibate. We learn that as Laurell's life changed so did Anita's and how she interacted with the other characters in the books.

In all there are contributions from 13 authors.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and everyone. Adding LKH's observations of her life and her writing added the proper amount of spice. Names such as Liltith Saintcrow, Cathy Clamp, and Sharon Ashwood will be familiar to urban fantasy readers.

Reading the various essays helped me to sort out all the men in Anita's life and why they were important to her. Beyond Jean-Claude and Richard I was getting lost.

LKH is often astounded at what others see happening in her stories. She was unaware of the direction of certain relationships until pointed out in the essays.

Guilty Pleasures  was the perfect name for LKH's first Anita novel. Although the name came from the name of Jean-Claude's establishment, the title came to imbue how early readers thought of the tense, paranormal thrill that pushed the limits of horror and a new type of female protagonists

I was an early Anita fan but drifted away after Narcissus in Chains - not completely since I really loved Anita's world  - I hoped that there would be  perhaps a return to her "roots". That did indeed happen in Obsidian Butterfly and Skin Trade when the ardeur did not burst onto the scene taking up, for me, far too many pages of sex scenes. Not that I'm against sexual goings-on, far from it, I would simply prefer that it be more integral to the story. Give me more plot and suspense like in the early days.

Now here is a caveat. After reading Ardeur I am inclined to revisit some of the novels I so easily dismissed. Perhaps their is more substance in there than had I noticed.

List of Contents:

Giving the Devil Her Due by Nick Mamatas

Girls Gone Wild by Heather Swain

Ambiguous Anita by Lilith Saintcrow

Dating the Monsters by L. Jagi Lamplighter

Bon Rapports by Marella Sands

Mom! There's Something Dead Sucking on My Neck! by Cathy Clamp

The Other Side of the Street by Alasdair Stuart

The Domestication of a Vampire Executioner by Natasha Fondren

Ardeur's Purpose by Devon Ellington

Trying the system by Melissa L. Tatum

Ardeur's Purpose by Devon Ellington

Trying the System by Melissa L. Tatum

Are the Fangs Rea? by Mikhail Lyubansky Ph.D

Death Becomes Her by Sharon Ashwood

Death's Got your Back by Vera Nazarian

Showing the Scars by Jacob Clifton

[Dear FTC, I received a copy of this book from the publisher.]


Natasha Fondren said...

Yes, I loved Narcissus in Chains, but after that, I dropped off for a couple years. But I did pick it back up again, and I did enjoy them, once I got used to the new way of things, LOL. Narcissus in Chains was a big turning point book.

Thanks for posting about the book, Patricia!

Patricia Altner said...

Good to know you felt it worth going back to the Anita books. "Ardeur" has made me think about doing the same.

Thanks for writing, Natasha!

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