Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Kiss Of Shadows, by Laurell K. Hamilton

1 star

A few years ago I started to read the Anita Blake series, by Laurell K. Hamilton, when wanting a new vamp series to try out. It started out decently enough, with Anita as an ‘animator’ (a necromancer, able to raise the dead) and a P.I. who worked with the cops on any supernatural type cases. Sadly, it soon devolved into a parade of awful outfits, douchebag love interests, over-reliance on plots including threats of and attempted rape, and a grouchy, arrogant and humourless heroine who was desired by all and whose powers inexplicably grew until she was, at the point I stopped reading, not only 'The Executioner' (liaison to the Regional Preternatural Investigation squad, and necromancer) but also the vampire Jean-Claude's human servant (and part of a power triumvirate with he and werewolf Richard), lupa to Richard's wolf pack and leopard lionne/munin/Nimir-Ra (and the kitchen sink) to the wereleopards. With her being easily more powerful than anybody that she came across, soon the actual plots were pushed into the background and the focus became on all that sex instead. It had this effect:

Last year, I thought I'd give Laurell K. Hamilton another chance, that my problems with the Anita Blake series might be confined to that series and Anita herself. I was wrong. Starring Merry Gentry, the half-human sidhe princess, this time around everything that irritated me most about Anita was front and centre; pages and pages of descriptions on the most awful outfits imaginable, the heroine standing around while those around her discuss how beautiful she is, every male she meets lusting after her, and every circumstance dealt with through liberal application of sex, all of which is decidedly unerotic. There's no real effort at characterisation other than Merry being the most beautiful, most fascinating, most wonderful creature to have ever walked the earth - take it as read that every male will want her more than they've ever wanted anyone before, and every woman will see her as a threat. It amuses me to think Hamilton just writes down her fevered daydreams - I'm convinced she's not getting enough.

As for what there is of plot, Merry is in hiding from her sidhe family, and working at a detective agency. Not for long though, as she's summoned back to the Unseelie Court, goes to see the Queen, and is ordered to have sex with loads of men. And that's it. The initial 'mystery' is solved without Merry really even thinking about it, as she instead rubs herself up against anyone who crosses her path, including those with tentacles.

I'm no prude by any stretch of the imagination so my problem with the constant sex was really less to do with being squicky about it and more to do with being insanely bored by it all. I find that the most erotic scenes I've read have usually had some sort of build-up and some investment, emotional or otherwise, is always helpful. Sex is used in this book as almost akin to shaking hands, and it strips it of any eroticism it might have otherwise had. 

There's not much else for me to say other than to try and remind myself not to pick up any more Hamilton in the future, as we really don't get along. In Merry and Anita's worlds, that would mean I was sexually threatened or jealous. Bless.

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