The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series has been one of my favorite paranormal series’. When I started reading, there were probably 16 books out and I binge read them all. Ever since then, I expectantly waited for each new book. I never had an issue with the twists LKH brought in, the number of men in Anita’s life, the elaborate and really long sex scenes or basically anything that happened – coz most things took the plot or the characters forward.
I know I read the last book, but I do not remember it now. I read Narcissus in Chains almost a decade ago and can narrate the entire story. The last book was forgettable. But I think there was a plot and there was character growth. Because I did not feel the disappointment that I feel now.
I usually do not write bad reviews. I give bad ratings on GoodReads, but if I already feel my time was not well utilized on the book – I am not interested in spending more time cribbing about it. This time, however, I feel I need to do it, hoping that LKH might see this, or at least her editors do.
There are spoilers ahead.
Crimson Death starts off with Damien. He is having trouble and Anita goes to talk to him. Made sense. Cardinale had an issue with everything because she is a paranoid and super jealous girlfriend. Made sense. The utter frustration felt in the situation made sense. This was LKH’s job. She did just fine. But it was the job of her editors to shorten it – make the whole thing crisp. To take the frustration and instead of letting it spill over so many pages, sharpen it to knife’s edge – make it cut, and then move on. I ended up feeling just as frustrated as Damien.
I like the details that LKH puts in. I like how she gives us names of the guards. I like how Anita thinks that she should know the names of the people who might give up their life for her. I don’t get why we still see the dumb guards who are too sexist for their own good. And even if they are, they lack the professionalism to keep it under wraps especially when in front of their boss. And if they are so unprofessional – they should not be doing security at a place like Danse Macabre. What if they are unprofessional to a customer? What then? After 25 books Anita has to deal with people like Ricky. Why? Cut them out. We have seen a thousand versions of the same scene – we do not need another one. If it needs to be mentioned – then he leered and Echo met Anita’s gaze and Anita understood Echo would take care of it. See? Done.
Anita is supposed to be having a serious date. She goes, has her date, comes back and the plan is to sleep with Damien. Just sleep. The situation is awkward. But it does not need to become a therapy session. I am glad everyone is going to therapy. God knows they need it. But these things cannot take so long. This is not real life where everything does take forever and still never gets truly sorted. This is a book and these people only have a limited number of pages to get their story across.
This is just the very beginning of the book.
Every single person has been described in painstaking detail in the book. Their looks, their backstory, their fears, desires, preferences and their relationship with Anita. All of that is needed – but to a much shorter extent. Yes, I do want to know where Dev and Anita stand in their relationship at the moment. But, I do not want to know what he looks like anymore. I know already. If I did not even know what the main characters looked like, I would not pick up the 25th book in the series. It is LKH’s job to put in this information – to make sure she links everything together. It is the job of her editors to tell her that this is verbatim what she has in the previous books and to cut it out. To tell her that we all know Nicky is blonde, tall built and with one eye missing. Reading about his mannerisms was interesting initially, now we know exactly what they are and can picture them better when not weighed down by a 1000 words on the issue.
Nicky, Jean-Claude, Asher, Nathaniel – all are described way too much. The stillness of the vamps – we have been doing that since book 1. Don’t explain. Asher’s scars – no I do not again need to know about the Inquisition. I know. Tell me about him and Kane. Not about the scars. I know Jean Claude has black hair. I know Anita has curls. I know their hair is really long. I did not know Micah needed prescription glasses – that was interesting. But I did not need to be told again that a ‘really bad man’ had made him stay in animal form too long. I know about Chimera. I read Narcissus in Chains. And even if I had not, it has been mentioned more than enough times since then. These people do not need to be introduced, not in any way.
I know otherwise I have no business picking up the 25th Anita Blake book. So why did not her editors know all this and cut it? If they could not cut it, why did they not tell LKH at least?
Then there are the conversations. Almost everyone is going for therapy. I am actually really curious about this therapist (or if it is more than one?) because you have to be AMAZING to deal with people with such issues. Plus there is the problem of how strong most of them are. What if they lost control and hurt the therapist? How does the therapist know he/she is safe? How do you do your job when faced by powerful vamps who might roll you? Or shifters who might break you?
So, that kind of stuff would be cool. The challenges faced by a therapist of the supernatural? Imagine being a therapist for the Harlequin. How do you handle that? And how does the therapist keep all the secrets? Has anyone ever tried to break in and learn abt the personal lives of these famous people?
Instead of anything interesting coming in – we have every conversation being dragged to its death, and then its body being dragged some more. I know these people are all going for therapy and they have worked very hard to be this open and this accepting of themselves and others. But, there are times for such conversations and not all conversations can be like this.
The time in the plane – while traveling to Ireland – best place for these conversations because there is nothing else to do.
While in the van with Nolan present – No. And Nolan sharing with these guys so much – NO. We have just met this guy. He’s a badass – think Edward at the start. He should act like Edward then. Not to mention, Edward should act like Edward. Him being treated like a ‘normal man’ in this book is so disconcerting. He is Edward.
And then there are so many things that never get explained, sorted or solved. What did Edward do in all his time in Ireland? Did he catch He caught no one? He found no vamps? This is Edward. And I never even saw why he needed Anita to come by. It’s a vamp plague – sure. But nothing beyond that. Why would he need her? I never learned how the Irish cops had pissed him off that the Ted mask kept slipping. The Irish are so nice it is annoying – so then how did he get so angry at them? Them calling for Anita I can understand. Him being desperate to include her? No way.
Every place has fools but why is every fool Anita meets a misogynist? Her reputation precedes her. Then do they simply ignore the kill count and focus on her wedding? How do the Irish even know the rumors? The Americans do, but then they are all part of the same law enforcement. Are the rumors about her sex life on the internet? I thought that would not happen considering she is marrying only Jean-Claude and that is all that the press would know.
Then come the later bits. The fey could have been so much more – but they become a footnote. And then we have Nathaniel – finally growing into a man – who has to sightsee and take bodyguards away from Anita. He’s smarter than that. Yet, it was good to see a facet of him that suited his age.
Of course, Jean Claude was too weak to be left alone with Asher. This is Jean Claude. He has fought and clawed his way to where he is. He is not weak. Anything but weak. Why the sudden twist in personality?
Then we have the ending. It is chapter 73 by the time the real plot starts. Sure, the stuff before was the precursor – but then they do not actually try to solve anything. Looking at crime scene photos and then saying what you see is fine. But nothing else happens. No actual crime solving. Are the entirety of Irish police so incompetent or so against violence that they cannot do their jobs? They may not kill vamps – but they have not used any info Edward gave them to do anything else?
Anita is kidnapped. Again. Cannot contact anyone Metaphysically, again. Rolls someone who gets her out. Again. What is the new bit?
The vamp whose very name other vamps do not say, dies without a whimper. Where was the fight for survival? Sure Anita is weak – but hunger has left her just as weak throughout half the book. Where was the crime solving, the hunting bad guys part? Where did we get any actual info on Nolan’s team except their names? SWAT has always been given more respect. These guys were amateurs – especially Brennan – who was not even pulled off duty and sent back to guard Anita and her lot. Socrates stayed at the compound – so she wasted one of her best guards for no reason but to train people? Training could have happened later – how was guarding his queen taking a backseat?
And then there is an ending. One large vamp shows up, Damien says he has always been more of a beast, and voila one major issue solved. It was never shifters but this vamp who was killing off people that brutally. Okay. But if he was also making new vamps, then how was it? Coz we are told Moroven had trouble with it too. So how did a minion do it so well? Why was magic dying in Dublin? That is never explained and without that, the vamps rising would have been impossible. So, a major plot point is completely ignored, not just left unresolved.
The ‘fixing’ of the marrying a tiger situation is solved so easily. I was not even sure the tiger in question was dead until much later. What happened to explaining what was going on? The position of everyone on the bed, their hands, their clothes, their preferences and even their positions are always described in excruciating detail (every time, mind you) – and yet something that important is just treated as an after thought.
The end is too blah, for lack of a better word. It’s liek someone describing a movie they watched with amazing graphics, that are just not translating into words. Except I know LKH can do it. She has done it before, many many times.
I think the end of it is, I am severely disappointed. Will I read the next book in the series? Probably. Will I expect better? Yes.
I know LKH is an amazing storyteller. I have read a lot of books which are proof of this. But the bare bones of a plot filled out into a flat summation type description along with wordy conversations and other descriptions do not a novel make.