Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: Ardeur Edited by Laurell K Hamilton

From the Publisher:

Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series is a literary sensation, thanks to its strong female hero, well-fleshed (both literally and literarily) characters and unabashed attitude toward sex. The world Hamilton has created is powerfully compelling and stunningly complex—and it gets deeper and richer, and more perilous, with every book.

Straddling the series’ dominant themes of sex and power, Ardeur gives Anita fans a deeper look into the dynamics, both personal political, that have kept readers fascinated throughout the run of the series. Why is the ardeur the very best thing that could have happened to Anita, personally (aside from all the sex it requires her to have with hot men)? How is Anita’s alternate United States a logical legal extension of our own? And as the series continues, what other bargains might Anita have to make with herself and others in order to keep the people she loves safe from harm?

My Review:

I have read the Anita Blake series from the beginning, been a fan of Anita and the world she lives in, and related to many of the personal insecurities dealt with in the first few books, and yet I have never analyzed it the way Ardeur does. That makes me feel somewhat guilty because in some way I have taken for granted that female characters haven't always been written this way. My generation has been fortunate enough to have many strong, badass female characters to choose from and Anita helped plow the path.

"...Hamilton showed that fantasy could reach a new and powerful audience of women. All it took was a new and powerful woman character: Anita Blake."

The inclusion of personalized introductions written by Laurell at the beginning of each essay brings insight and clarity to some of her motivations for writing Anita as she is, and how she has evolved through the course of the series as Laurell's own life changed. Each note is brutally honest, revealing, and relates to each essay that follows, giving you a peek into the mind of a brilliant suspenseful writer.

"Well, I have grown up, and so has Anita, and we're both just fine the way we are, being not good women, but good people." -Laurell

The essays themselves, written by some of today's most popular authors, all offer a unique spin on the Anita Blake phenomenon, and some comments just made me laugh out loud. The Domestication of a Vampire Executioner (Natasha Fondren) sums up Anita, her feelings of love towards Nathaniel, Micah and even Richard, and the growth she has shown as the novels progress. Anita is a work in progress and it is often the actions of others that force her to accept certain parts of herself, and be open to the various types of love her guys offer to her. Hands down, my favorite essay of the book, Bon Rapports, comes from Marella Sands and humorously explains sex, the English language and how Anita and Jean-Claude forced Laurell to break her own rule. Who knew that one alternate term for part of the male anatomy was a purple-headed custard chucker. Hysterical!

Overall, an interesting look at one of my favorite series. Didn't change my mind about anything concerning the relationships in Anita's world, although I will go back and read them again. But to be honest, I'd do that anyway because unlike some, I do not yearn for Anita to have a picket fence and like the adventures each new book brings. The controversy surrounding the Vampire Hunter series will always make for a good discussion and now I have fresh new arguments to make and a new vocabulary to go with it. As an added bonus, I discovered the writing style of a few new-to-me authors and my next trip to the bookstore includes a much longer list.

*Reviewed by Anna Dougherty for VampChix


Natasha Fondren said...

Gosh, I love your header. :-)

Thanks for reviewing Ardeur. It was a blast to work on, to think and study the characters so deeply. I think I managed to fall in love with the characters even more. I'm such a fan of the series!

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I'm on my third read through the series and it has become a comfort read for me. It will be nice to have different angles to look at the stories with the commentary from Ardeur.

Thanks for the review. I was on the fence as to whether or not I would appreciate this collection, but your descriptions and notes make me sure that this will end up in my cart at some point.

BTW - You are very well written and I enjoyed reading your review.

Miranda ~ Sweet Vernal Zephyr