Okay, so last week zombies, this week, more undead: vampires, zombies again, and other supernatural creepy crawlies. I promise, this isn't a pattern...
I'm going to sort of review the bulk of the series all at once here, because I can't wholeheartedly recommend Laurell K. without a few reservations about the way the series has turned lately. Let's start with the good stuff! Anita Blake is a fantastic heroine. She starts out pretty one dimensional - the beautiful tough chick with a chip on her shoulder - but Laurell K. puts in the work, allowing Anita to change and grow - some things for the better, some things for the worse. She isn't precisely the Anti-hero, but she's got enough darkness to make her interesting. Her supporting cast is full of varied and interesting beings, who don't develop quite so much, though the sheer number of her supporting cast certainly grows.
Plot? Well, here's where things get wonky. The first several books are paranormal mysteries, really. Anita works as a consultant for a police task force charged to investigate supernatural crimes. Murders by or of vampires and other monsters, for instance. There's also this important subplot about Anita being a necromancer, just to keep things interesting. This part of the series is just plain fun. Mystery, horror, mythology, the counterplay of Anita's "normal" life and her "paranormal" life. The series is well written (okay, Laurell K. isn't Emily Dickinson, but she isn't Jackie Collins, either), and exciting - can't wait to get to the next one exciting. There is, even from book one (Guilty Pleasures), a lot of sexual tension, and eventually, a whole lot of sex. A. Whole. Lot. of. Sex.
And here's where things break down. I can totally get behind the first nine books in the series, even with the ever-increasing porn. (And hey, nine books is a good, long series - you could stop there and feel like you've done your duty by Laurell K., and that she'd done her job as an author.) In fact, as an aside, book 9 (Obsidian Butterfly) is amazingly good and is a slight departure from the rest of the series - Anita leaves town to lend a helping hand to a "friend" of hers, Edward, upon whom the story largely focuses. Edward is a true Antihero. Edward is a Bad Man. It's brilliant, and possibly the best book in the series - and notably, the one with the least sex.
There are at least three, maybe now four, more books in the series. I know that I read three more after Obsidian Butterfly. But these last few books have been... disappointing. I didn't even bother to find out about any new releases, which is why I don't know if the series is up to 13 or 14 or even 15 books now. Now, I'm no prude, certainly, and I really enjoyed the sensuality of many of the early books (really... really, really...umm, nevermind...) But I do like some PLOT with the porn. There used to be plot. I really miss that. Where has the plot gone, Laurell K? I loved the mysteries, I loved believing that Anita and the gang could actually be in danger from time to time. Now they have already defeated creatures so vast and powerful that nothing on the planet would dare challenge them.
Somebody let me know when Anita remembers to put her pants back on and gets back to participating in a story.