Burnt Offerings

Rating: 
4
A version of this review will appear in The Vampire's Crypt 18 (Fall 1998). The Vampire's Crypt web site is: http://members.aol.com/MLCVamp/vampcrpt.htm

Laurell K. Hamilton. Burnt Offerings. (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter) Ace, May 1998; ISBN 0-441-00524-1; $6.99/$8.99.

Guilty Pleasures. That was the name of Hamilton's first Anita Blake novel, and it's probably a good way of describing the seventh. Need a zombie raised? Local wereleopards missing their leader? Somebody borrowing your body for stuff you wouldn't do on a cold day in hell? Old friend refuse to be reconciled? Want vengeance for that gang-rape, or for being skinned alive? Never fear -- Anita Blake is here! As long as the problems are somebody else's, she has the solution ... no matter how screwed-up her own life and relationships manage to stay.

And she does have her share of problems in this one. Of course she and Richard (werewolf with the heart of a Boy Scout) are still estranged after the events of THE KILLING DANCE, and since she is still lupa (essentially third in command) of the local werewolf pack, this causes political problems for the shapeshifter community. The wereleopards are raising hell because Anita's killing their leader has disrupted their social order severely. A pyrokinetic is loose in St. Louis, and Anita has been asked to help track him down.

And as if all that weren't enough: Representatives of the Vampire Council sweep into St. Louis and make themselves at home in Jean-Claude's own Vampire Circus -- torturing whatever leaders of the local supernatural community they can't browbeat into submission. They are touring America to witness firsthand the fruits of vampire legality, and amusing themselves along the way as only ancient and powerful vampires can. The extremely motley crew includes Padma, Master of Beasts, his shapeshifter honor guard, and his unspeakably impertinent son Fernando; the Traveller, who has no form of his own but slips into whatever body happens to be handy; and powerful vampires Yvette and Warrick and Asher. Just to make matters more interesting, Asher was once part of a happy menage-a-trois with Jean-Claude but has long been estranged from him for what Asher claims was Jean-Claude's betrayal -- a circumstance that left Asher's once-beautiful face covered with holy water scars. Asher has at last come to take his revenge.

Not only does this one contain lots of teeth-gritting, on-the-edge-of-your-seat rescues, it introduces a new element to complicate Anita's life: her ability as honorary werewolf to channel the "munin" of Raina, the pack's previous lupa. Raina's munin gives Anita some impressive new powers -- but these are of course not without their own set of complications.

All the problems that BURNT OFFERINGS presents should be enough to lay even Anita Blake so low as to be at least temporarily indistinguishable from the carpet fiber. Anita, however, whips them all virtually single-handed. And that's where this book fails in a big way. Of course, we want to see Anita go in with guns blazing to right wrongs, free the oppressed, rescue the perishing, and save the dying. This is what Anita Blake does. In BURNT OFFERINGS, however, even our girl manages to do just a bit too much, as she rolls in seemingly equipped with more options than a Boy Scout knife. She can kick wereleopard ass, reconcile cops and shapeshifters, bestow on ancient vampires a sense of responsibility, and soften the adamantine heart of a vampire with a centuries-old grudge. Her sheer competence leaves little more for Richard and Jean-Claude to do than stand by and say, "I didn't know" and "Ma petite, what am I going to do with you?" respectively.

BURNT OFFERINGS is still a compelling read, with action that grabs you in its teeth and refuses to pause for breath -- or to accumulate a little more credibility. And that's why I've called it a guilty pleasure. It works well until your brain kicks in with "Wait, is this Anita Blake propaganda or what?"

The next Anita Blake book, BLUE MOON, is slated for October 1998 publication. And hey, if you like Anita Blake despite her near- godhood, check out the Laurell K. Hamilton Mailing List home page, http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Lair/9071/.

The Mad Bibliographer
Cathy Krusberg

Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

Drawn to Vamps?

Vol. 7 No. 7
The Witch's Horror
Vol. 3 No. 1
Vampire