Saturday, March 05, 2005

Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton (book review)

As mediocre as the first book in the Anita Blake series was, Hamilton has managed to turn her Anita Blake stories into a successful franchise. While perhaps it won’t win any Nebula or World Fantasy Award, Hamilton’s series has always been fun and even insightful at times. I think the big question for her latest novel, Cerulean Sins is whether Hamilton will take her series to a new level, or merely stall to cash in on her fame.

Hamilton is more or less consistent in her writing. She still excels in what she does best, which is down-and-dirty, no nonsense characterization. Her characters, for all their strengths, continue to be conflicted characters with their own sets of flaws and short-sightedness. And of course, there’s the sex.

Perhaps what intrigues me is that for a main character who doesn’t want to have sex, she gets a lot of it from a harem of beautiful men (be it vampires, werewolves, werehyenas, and uh, more vampires). Compare that to her Merry Gentry series where the main character is more open about sexual intercourse, and doesn’t really mind having a legion of would-be lovers. But of course, I’m sure this is what appeals to many of her readers, as well as the fact that it’s a fantasy of many women.

For me Hamilton steps up in this book by hinting at something larger. The vampire council has made a few appearances in the previous books but this novel gives us clues to something larger. While it’s not resolved in this novel, the potential is there and hopefully Hamilton resolves it in the next few books.

Perhaps one weakness I found in the current book is the plot. What I thought would be the sub-plot turned out to be the main plot (which is a break from her typical writing style for the series since more often than not, the investigation is usually the priority) while the episodic plot for this novel was short and brief. Perhaps it’s a sign of things to come (in terms of story) that Anita’s otherworldly exploits take center stage rather than her day job. Still, it surprised me that Anita’s detective work was given less attention and detail, more so than the book that preceded this. But this is just a perspective complaint more than a criticism of Hamilton’s writing style.

Much like my previous Hamilton reviews, the book can be recommended to people who’re looking for one of the following: fun and guilty entertainment, romance, and conflicted characters. Aside from that, don’t expect Hamilton’s writing style to change for her to churn out something like Lord of the Rings. Anita Blake’s cool because she’s blunt, direct, and will kick your sorry ass if you piss her off.

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