Harlequin, The

Rating: 
4
Review by Sandy Amazeen
May 14, 2007

Anita Blake returns in the fifteenth installment to the vampire hunter series that begins with Malcolm, a powerful vampire and head of the Church of Eternal Life seeking her assistance. Given Malcolm's animosity towards Anita and Master of the City Jean-Claude, something must be very wrong to have him seeking their help and the cryptic message Anita is to rely to her master does nothing to ally her fears. When she receives the gift of a plain white mask there can be no doubt the boogiemen of vampires, the Harlequin have come to St. Louis. The Harlequin serve as judge, jury and if need be, executioner for the vampires, they cannot be bought or bribed nor their decisions changed. The "gift" of a white mask is a good thing as it means the local vampire community is being watched only, yet it soon becomes obvious that something or someone is messing with them as vampires and werecreatures alike begin acting strangely.

Anita calls for trusted backup from Edward, known among vampires as Death and this time Death arrives with backup in the form of Olaf, an ex-special-ops spook who's idea of a good time involves being elbow deep in a body. Richard, Ulfric of the werewolves and part of a powerful triumvirate must either come to terms with Anita's complicated personal life involving Jean-Claude, Micah, Nathaniel and others or allow his deep-seated anger to destroy what they have attempted to build. Carrying four forms of lycanthropy in her blood plus dealing with the ardeur and keeping the Mother of Darkness out of her head demands hard won control from Anita as it becomes increasingly difficult to tell friend from foe. The inevitable showdown between St Louis's preternatural community and the Harlequin will shatter old ties, forge new ones, and expose a serious flaw within the Harlequin ranks while revealing Anita's importance in controlling the Mother of Darkness.

Fans of the old Anita Blake will be happy to see a departure from the gratuitous sex seen in Danse Macabre and Incubus Dreams as this book focuses less on Anita feeding the ardeur and more on the dynamics of the triumvirates and the interaction between the paranormal community. It is nice to see a return of old characters including detective Zerbrowski and Edward's stepson Peter along with Anita's character embracing what she is rather then constantly wondering if she is a slut. Rafael, the rat king goes to great lengths in order to forge a stronger alliance between the wererats and vampires yet that thread is left hanging so it will be interesting to see where this subplot goes in future stories.

Overall, there is more substance to this installment then fans have seen in a long time, hopefully this is a trend to look forward to.

Fanged Films

Hong Kong/USA, 1987
a.k.a. Devil's Dynamite, Robocop vs. Vampires
Mexico, 1962
Frankenstein, the Vampire and Company / Frankenstein, el vampiro y Cia

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?