Home Series Ratings - Quick View Excerpts Anxiously Awaiting Review Policy Disclosure Policy

Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bullet (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 19) by Laurell K. Hamilton


I've been actively waiting for Bullet to be released. That means I've been watching LKH's blog for excerpts and discussions, and I've been just generally trying to keep up with rumors and gossip around it. Now that I've read it, I'm both satisfied... and not.

For starters, a huge chunk of the beginning of the book is a description of a dance recital. Some of it is part of the plot, as we learn which of her men is having a personal issue at the moment and which are playing nice with everyone. But much of the beginning of the book is extraneous information that has nothing to do with the plot, or even much to do with character development -- the filler stuff really wasn't necessary. Perhaps the three year old child is going to be a bigger part of a future book, since he plays a role in the beginning and end of the book, but, still, it was a bit much. It felt more like an exercise for a creative writing class (describe four styles of dance in detail, try to pull the emotions of the dance into your writing) than the beginning of an Urban Fantasy novel. I'd have given it an A in a creative writing class, but not for the opening chapter of a book that has promised a lot of action.

Another negative (in my twisted mind, anyway) is that we apparently aren't going to get to "see" what happens between Anita and Asher and Nathaniel with the BDSM stuff.  We learn a little about what has happened, and we see that there is a new bed with "tie off points" made especially for their BDSM play, but we don't get to experience any of it.

My other huge disappointment has to do with Haven. Not with disappointment about what happens in the book, but with the fact that apparently a lot has happened with Haven that we haven't been privy to. Anita remembers things with Haven that I don't remember happening, and I don't think there have been any short stories I've missed.

It is my opinion that LKH has gotten big enough that she can overrule the editors, and that she should listen to them a bit more. I think that a new author goes through a more rigorous editing process, and I think some of the debut books out there really show that the author and editors have worked together to put out the best book possible. LKH is a great author, and Bullet is a good story with good writing. In some places it is great writing, but overall it's just good. There are parts in the book that shouldn't have made the cut, and there are things that are talked about where we really should be given the details and not just kind of loosely told that it happened. The editing process is supposed to say "this part really isn't needed, isn't part of the book" or "wow, don't just mention this part in passing, show us more of what happens (or happened), it's too big of a part of the story to just gloss over like that".

That's enough discussion about what I disliked, as there was also a lot that I liked. It's harder to talk about what I liked without giving spoilers, but LKH has already given the spoiler that Richard has finally grown up and gotten his act together. I don't know if it will last, but I think it might. LKH also said there would be a resolution with Asher, and there was, but with Asher I don't think the chances of it keeping him happy long term are quite as good. I'm okay with the resolution though. Mostly.

I'm not sure what to say about the plot. It's not a new plot, but it's not exactly same-plot-different-book, either. I'll go ahead and list the blurb, since that gives an idea of the plot:

Anita Blake is back in St. Louis and trying to live a normal life-as normal as possible for someone who is a legal vampire executioner and a U. S. Marshal. There are lovers, friends and their children, school programs to attend. In the midst of all the ordinary happiness a vampire from Anita's past reaches out. She was supposed to be dead, killed in an explosion, but the Mother of All Darkness is the first vampire, their dark creator. It's hard to kill a god. This dark goddess has reached out to her here-in St. Louis, home of everyone Anita loves most. The Mother of All Darkness has decided she has to act now or never, to control Anita, and all the vampires in America.

The Mother of All Darkness believes that the triumvirate created by master vampire Jean-Claude with Anita and the werewolf Richard Zeeman has enough power for her to regain a body and to immigrate to the New World. But the body she wants to possess is already taken. Anita is about to learn a whole new meaning to sharing her body, one that has nothing to do with the bedroom. And if the Mother of All Darkness can't succeed in taking over Anita's body for herself, she means to see that no one else has the use of it, ever again. Even Belle Morte, not always a friend to Anita, has sent word: "Run if you can..."

So, we know the Mother of all Darkness isn't dead. But, of course, there is more to it than that... and the way she's come back is going to make her that much harder to kill.

Everyone wants to talk about the sex in the Anita Blake books, so I'll say that I didn't think the sex scenes took up too many pages. There are, of course, a few sex scenes... but they are part of the action, and part of what happens when you've got however many people they now have in this relationship. And things do get mixed up a bit this time, it's not the same sex scenes repeated from previous books. That was beginning to be a problem for me, but we get some new... eh... new stuff, this time (trying hard not to give spoilers, sorry for being cryptic). LKH is once again stretching the limit of what kind of sex scene is acceptable in a mostly mainstream book. I'm okay with that, but I'm guessing that some people won't be.

Bullet doesn't really end at a huge resolution point. It does not end with a cliffhanger, but it feels like the first part of a book instead of the whole book. Much that happens does not get resolved, but I'm mostly okay with that because a whole lot of things do manage to get resolved.

To go through my list -- pacing was well done (I don't think Ms. Hamilton has ever had a problem with pacing), dialogue was good, I've already talked about plot, and the world building continues to be well done. You'd think that by Book 19 the world would be built, but there is still more to learn about Anita's world, and about the history of Anita's world. The relationships are mostly well done, with lots of complexity running through them. Some would argue too much complexity, but I'm fine with it.

I briefly considered re-reading the last six or eight books before Bullet came out, and in retrospect I really wish I'd done that. It is my hope that I will have time before book 20 comes out so I can re-read the first 19 books. It will be a huge undertaking, but I think it's time to start over from the beginning with Anita and Jean Claude and the rest of the cast.

LKH told us in one of her teaser posts that we'd see Edward and Olaph in Bullet, but she must have been confused, because they were not in the book. I can see how they may be in the next book, as there is a particular skillset that those two have that will help out with part of what Anita and Company are going to be dealing with in book 20.

I think I've said about all I can say without giving away spoilers. Part of me wants to talk about what I think is going to happen next, but I can't do that without some serious spoilers, so I'll leave it where I'm at.

I'm going to give Bullet a 7 of 10. The story could have been an 8 of 10, but as I said earlier, I don't think LKH feels she has to listen to the editors anymore, and I think it might be good for her to be a little more open to what they say. Or, perhaps she needs to get an editor who isn't afraid to point things out, if her current editor has grown gun shy of doing so. LKH is a great author, and Bullet is a good story with good writing. In some places it is great writing, but overall it's just good. And that's a shame.

I'm torn about what to give the series. Based on the past couple of books it should really be an 8 of 10. But I'm not ready to let the most recent books completely overshadow the first books in the series. Also, Anita does learn and grow throughout the series. She doesn't get stuck in one place, and I appreciate that.  I'm leaving it at a 9 of 10, but I'm thinking that with the next book it's possible we'll be dropping to an 8.

If you haven't read any of the Anita Blake series then you really must start at book one, Guilty Pleasures. If you are squeamish about explicit sex scenes then you'll probably want to stop after you've read Obsidian Butterfly. But, if lots of sex doesn't bother you then keep going. A few books are really sex intensive, but once Anita gains control of a few things the sex goes more into the background and we get some different plots coming forward.

Book Rating: Bullet: 7 of 10
Series Rating: Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: 9 of 10

1. Guilty Pleasures
2. The Laughing Corpse
3. Circus of the Damned
4. The Lunatic Cafe
5. Bloody Bones
6. The Killing Dance
7. Burnt Offerings
8. Blue Moon
9. Obsidian Butterfly
10. Narcissus in Chains
11. Cerulean Sins
12. Incubus Dreams
12.5. Micah
13. Danse Macabre
14. The Harlequin
15. Blood Noir (2008)
16. Skin Trade (2009)
16.5 Flirt (Feb 2010)
17. Bullet (June 2010)


  1. I agree completley with all your said howvwer I would say that although matthew may play a part in the futrue novels do you not think he was involved more for the narrcissitic fanatasie of nathaniel than for actually hinting at the future...but other than that bravo i like your analysis

  2. Not so sure about narcissistic fantasies... though I can see that it might be to show that Nathaniel (and a few of the others) would make a great dad, maybe? Could it be we are being set up for a pregnancy? I can't see Anita getting pregnant on purpose, but I can see that if it happened by accident that she probably would not abort.

    As I consider the possibility I'm pretty sure I don't like the idea of Anita-the-mom very much.

  3. I get a little tired of the sexual intrigues, who is doing what to whom, and are they right for each other? That's chick stuff. I just turn the page.

    I miss the original air of hard-boiled fantasy noir that characterized Anita's life. And I notice that the body count in the Anita series has fallen off considerably.

    I like Anita's interactions with "normal" people, particularly her police cohorts. At some point I hope Anita will be recognized (and feared) as "Zombie Queen", with dark and stormy night following her around.

    I think your review was a little too nice. It's obvious that you were dissatisfied. So was I, although perhaps for different reasons.

  4. The entire book is the same thing as last other 4 or 5 books, sex, someone trying to break through the mighty triaumpent sorry about spelling... sex saves the day Oh! Excuse me love saves the day, with yet more sex with anyone new that comes along. I wish I would have bought it in the store so I could return it I will not make this mistake again. If you have read the last 4 or five books and were disappointed than trust me just skip this one this was the worst yet...