I picked up this collection because it has an 80-page novella from Laurell K Hamilton, who has been doing fairly well with her Anita Blake series (although recent entries have not been up to the usual standard). I haven't read the other stories in it, but I figure that most people will be buying it for the Blake short anyway, so I'll review that (and update later with the other stories, if they are at all worth commenting on). I should note at this point that the "novella" is apparently more along the lines of an excerpt (chapters 11-13 of Incubus Dreams) than a standalone story. It does successfully stand alone, at least to readers already familiar with the series, but if you plan to buy the book there's probably no point in buying the short story collection. Had I realized this ahead of time, I wouldn't have bought it. Oh well. You, dear reader, can profit from my impulse purchase.

First: there's no action in this one. Anita is stuck in "relationship" mode, which for her means sex: thinking about it, talking about it, and defining her relationships around it. That's the downside. The upside is that Hamilton seems to be making strides towards resolving the conflicts Anita has been caught up for the last few books... that is to say, Anita is starting to understand and come to grips with the problem.

As might be expected, the story feels almost like a setup for the next novel (which, by the blurb, has a promising plot). There is a fair amount of Anita-spection about the fix she happens to be in, and one event likely to have serious repercussions -- serious enough that I'm surprised it was released in a short story that some fans will inevitably miss. It will be interesting to see how the forthcoming novel (Incubus Dreams) handles that.

Overall, the story is fairly well written. Although the it retains the blatant eroticism of the other recent Blake novels, it offers hope of resolution, and thus it's enough to keep me reading for the present. I've been disappointed by the way that the erotic elements of the Blake stories seem to be taking over, and I keep telling myself that I'll stop reading if the next book doesn't improve the situation. So far it is improving, but in little baby steps.

If you've been following the Anita Blake series for a while, and have been waiting for the next book, this will keep you satisfied for a little while. If you're new to the series, this isn't the place to start; try Guilty Pleasures. If you're not sure whether you want to continue with the series, don't buy this collection; wait for a review of the next book and buy that.

This entry was published Wed Dec 15 05:35:06 CST 2004 by Matthew and last updated 2013-08-14 13:46:49.0.

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