SpeculativeFiction


Incubus Dreams



Incubus Dreams is the latest Anita Blake book, and weighs in at a surprising 600+ pages; most of the prior books in the series have been 300-400 pages. The Anita Blake series has been having difficulty lately, with many of the fans hanging on desperately to the hope that the current trends -- that is, towards more sex and less of everything else -- will reverse themselves. Unfortunately for those with such hopes, the cover does little to suggest improvement; a woman in lingerie, blindfolded and bound to a chair.

A sample chapter is available from the publisher, and two more chapters from the short story collection Cravings.


The usual refrain is to not judge a book by its cover, but in many cases, you can do exactly that. Publishers pick covers for two reasons: first, they want to sell the book; and second, they want to accurately represent its contents, so the people buying the book won't be disappointed or overly surprised at what they find. Good cover art doesn't necessarily make a good book, but cover art emphasizing sex usually means the same emphasis is present in the prose.

Incubus Dreams is, in that sense, perfectly predictable. The cover emphasizes sex, and so does the prose. In terms of sheer page count, most of the book is made up of explicit sex scenes. There's sex with werecats, sex with werewolves, sex with vampires, sex with penetration, sex without penetration, sex in a car, sex with bondage, sex with a flogger, sex with police witnesses, sex with two men at a time, sex with a different two men at a time, sex with metaphysical purposes, sex just for the sake of sex, sex in an office, sex in a different office, and undoubtedly many subtle variations on the theme that I can't quite recall.

Quite frankly, the few scenes that didn't involve sex take up perhaps a total of 10 chapters. Into those 10 chapters Anita somehow fits a murder mystery, a wedding (no, I'm not saying whose), and a whine about amorality. No, there isn't room to cover any of the those things in detail, what with all the sex.

If you're beginning to get the impression that I didn't like all the sex, you'd be right. It wasn't badly written by any means, but there's just too much of it, and it long ago ceased to be interesting. Unfortunately, it seems that sex is a plotting mechanism for Anita these days; so much of the story revolves around it that no progress can be made without it.

One of the larger meta-plot issues in recent books has been Anita's sexual and romantic hangups. Fans have been rooting for her to get over those hangups for a long time now, because it's been interfering with her real work -- investigating murders and slaying vampires. In some respects, Incubus Dreams is about Anita's struggle to finally deal with those hangups rather than whine about them. In that respect, the book represents a significant turning point.

Unfortunately, that turning point is towards more, rather than less, sex. Most fans wanted Anita to get over her hangups so she would stop whining about them, not merely so they could read even more pointless semi-erotica.

Frankly, the amount of actual, non-sexual plot in this book was embarassing by any measure. It's not badly written, it's just far, far too much. I've been telling myself for a while that I would stop reading the Anita Blake series if the books didn't stop their headlong descent into pornography, and this one is the last straw. I do not expect I will purchase the next book.

On the other hand, if you've been reading Anita for the sex, by all means, you'll love the book. Have fun.

This entry was published Sat Sep 25 21:09:07 CDT 2004 by Matthew and last updated 2013-08-15 12:26:14.0.

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