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Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake novels are a known name in the world of urban fantasy, and for good reason.  The first, Guilty Pleasures, is an archetypal example of the genre in many ways, although it does have some tricks up it's sleeves.

However, for all that it is archetypal and famous, that doesn't actually make it good.  It's definitely readable, but the title refers as much to the novel's content as to the plot; it seamlessly melds fantastical elements to a pulp-urban setting in a manner that, whilst eminently enjoyable, isn't intellectual or new.  In fact it strikes me that there's a lot of work in the book in actively avoiding worldbuilding; we learn early on that vampires are a recognised part of the world, but the implications of that are never really analysed in the book; the implications of reanimation, similarly, are avoided almost totally.  In fact, in terms of world building, Hamilton does as little as possible in terms of implications and this, to me, makes the book a lot weaker.

As for the characters, they're simply typical urban fantasy characters.  Strong-and-vulnerable female lead who has survived a lot including a mysterious past, wounded by the creatures she now hunts... psychotic male who will do anything for the fun of killing, and will kill anything which is a challenge... really, it's the cast of various books by people from Butcher to Powers and all sorts of others besides.

Even the plot doesn't stand out much; predictable twists and turns, the only thing that just about saves the book is a strong descriptive style.  However, that isn't enough to recommend it; a vivid novel has to have more than just lavish descriptions, and that's what this book has - even when it makes little sense in terms of the plot.

A weak read although, if we are honest, perhaps representative of the genre as a whole in that regard (though I hasten to add I've not read a perfectly representative sample).  Not something I, personally, would recommend.


reading, books
Daniel Franklin


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