Friday, November 14, 2008

The Harlequin
(Anita Blake Book 15)
Written by: Laurell K Hamilton
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Berkeley Hardcover
Language: English
June 2007, $25.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Anita Blake is about to face the challenge of her life. Into her world--a world already overflowing with power--have come creatures so feared that powerful, centuries-old vampires refuse to mention their names. It is forbidden to speak of The Harlequin unless you've been contacted. And to be contacted by The Harlequin can mean three things. It can mean that they're watching, or that they're tormenting, or that they're going to kill you. The Harlequin belong to Marmée Noire, the Mother of Darkness, a figure so old, it's not known whether she's a vampire, a lycanthrope or something else. Long-time rivals for Anita's affections, Jean-Claude, Master Vampire of the City, and Richard Zeeman, Ulfric of the local werewolf pack, will need to become allies. Wereleopards Nathaniel and Micah will have to step up their support. And then there's Edward. In this situation, Anita knows that she needs to call the one man who has always been there for her, but he responds in a way that she didn't anticipate.


Before I review this, I should say that I have been reading the Anita Blake series since they first came out. I fell in love with Anita and the universe. Anita was snarky, one hell of a necromancer and I found myself getting lost in the supernatural world Hamilton created. The plots weren’t bad either (Bloody Bones is my favorite book). And yeah, I wouldn’t complain if I had the men in my life that Anita has in hers. And then for me it began to fall apart around Obsidian Butterfly, and perhaps a little before that, when sex took precedence over plot. Now I am a fan of smut and am not puritanical in any sense, but the one thing I respected the Anita series for was not making them “girly” aka making them more about boy meets girl then having a strong female with thrilling plots. I didn’t mind a little graphic sex and I had a feeling the ardeur was going to stay. Now I read Blood Noir before I read this which I found to be an absolute disaster (its actually the book after this one) and had me seriously reconsidering even reading this one at all. But I did because somehow I hope and have faith that Anita will get back on track. Because I saw glimmers of my old Anita in the Harlequin. I will commend Laurell for not creating some magical loophole to squash the negativity. And in her defense we keep picking them up despite our outrage at times. I just miss the old Anita. I respected the old Anita. I liked the old Anita. But I digress.

The Harlequin is a hit or miss Anita Blake. It has some great moments, the last half battle of wills in particular, and some eye rolling moments as well. However, The Harlequin are a great villain; observers, executioners and enforcers of vampire society and the Council. They are creepy and scary and I like the idea behind the colored masks. But alas they don’t get a whole lot of screen time instead we have to endure the usual Anita soap opera which has gone beyond tiresome for me. I also liked seeing some more of the supernatural hierarchy. Court politics and intrigue make me happy and the triumvirates have made things interesting. I will admit I did like seeing Edward and even the chilling Olaf again, but they didn’t have as much screen time as I would have liked. The prose is a bit lacking in this one as well, but then again this is the fifteenth book and it is hard not to retread on things we have already read.

You still have the usual smut of course. Thankfully its not every other chapter, but it is still a bit more gratuitous than I would have liked. Someone once pointed out that Anita’s men exist only to fulfill Anita’s needs and sadly they tend to be fairly two dimensional and they are woefully thus in this outing. I am not asking Anita to be monogamous or as I said for the ardeur to be quickly tied up in a bow, I just want the books to be Urban Fantasy again. I want Anita to stop being the Mary Sue she has become. If I wanted a flimsy plot and lots of sex, I would just head on over to the romance section of the bookstore. Anita cannot keep thinking of herself as a prude when she’ll jump a complete stranger, no scratch that several strangers in one book.

Anyway, maybe I am fool for standing by my book and not being able to just say no, but I love to read and like I said I keep hoping that my love affair with the Anita series will blossom again instead of wilting away. This volume had potential and I could see the glimmers of old school Laurell K and Anita. There was a decent horror/thrill story it just got lost. Find your way soon is all I can say because there are many more authors I would rather spend my 19.99 on.

2.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

1 comment:

thebonebreaker said...

I know that I've told you before that I've only read the 1st 5 or 6 Blake novels - I plan one day to return to the series - in the meantime, there are better books out there, for now! :-)

Great Review!!