On Mondays, we’ve been reading through Laurell K. Hamilton’s Guilty Pleasures, looking at the book from the perspective of a reader and a writer. For the first and second segments of this read, check out the last two weeks’ Monday blogs.
Anita meets Nikolaos, and Nikolaos tests her by asking the age of herself and Theresa. When Anita resists naming Nikolaos’s age, she attacks Anita’s mind and makes her power and control quite plain. But Anita uses sheer willpower and the pain of slamming her hands into the floor stones until they’re bruised and bloody to escape the vampire’s mental attack.
Reader Comments: Nikolaos was very different than I expected: a twelve or thirteen-year-old female vampire, as in this was the age she appeared, forever suspended in the transition between childhood and adulthood, lovely to behold and with the laughter and voice of pure innocence. But what a wonderful surprise! What a wonderful villain. This instantly makes her interesting.
Writer Comments: Hamilton spends a lot of time on the first page of this chapter describing the appearances of the other vampires and humans in the scene. I lost track very swiftly as to who was what and what they looked like. Mostly, I knew Theresa, Jean-Claude, and Nikolaos. Oh, and the bald man; for some reason, he stuck out to me. So be careful how much description you throw at a reader at any given time. Also, a lesson from Hamilton’s chillingly brilliant vampires: do the unexpected; it has power.
Zachary, another animator Nikolaos has, brings in a zombie, a witness from the killing of the vampire Lucas. However, due to Zachary’s ill-treatment, the zombie’s mind is too broken and incapable of providing the answers Nikolaos seeks. In a rage, Nikolaos turns on Anita and Zachary just after she demands they leave. Anita and Zachary flee.
Reader Comments: I like how Hamilton has really thought out her supernaturals. Zombies aren’t just mindless, stiff corpses with hive minds. The vamps are actually scary, especially Nikolaos, and I’m looking forward to what else she has in store.
Writer Comments: Here’s the challenge I have with this chapter: It heightens my confusion over why the vamps want Anita. At first, I thought it was because she’s an animator, but Zachary’s appearance proves that she isn’t exactly an endangered species. He does everything it seems she could, except he lacks her finesse, oh, and Jean-Claude’s life force. The vamps are obviously super powerful, so they don’t need her for her speed, strength, cunning, etc. They seem to fixate on her talent for determining a vamp’s age, but I don’t understand how that’s useful to them. I’m willing to go on as is because I’m enjoying the characters and, honestly, I’m trying to figure out how in the world Anita is going to survive, but I’d feel better if I understood the vampires’ motivation for wanting her help.
Anita and Zachary run from a wind chasing them out of the vampire underground, which is apparently Jean-Claude. His glowing eyes float within it, and he calls Anita’s name. Something happens when the wind eyes touch Anita. But she knows if she remains, if Nikolaos catches her, she’ll die. So she flees.
Reader Comments: I’m very curious about this thing that has happened from Jean-Claude’s wind eyes touching Anita. I suspect Jean-Claude is far fonder of her than he’s letting on, by a lot.
Writer Comments: The significance of this chapter seemed hinged upon the wind eyes touching Anita. However, the chapter goes on for almost three more pages. Anita’s knee gives her trouble, and she and Zachary come across Winter, who presumably will escort them out. This left me confused about much of the rest of the chapter. The very beginning was intense and wonderfully done. Jean-Claude calling Anita’s name through the wind was eerie and oddly nice, and the touch was definitely intriguing. But the rest felt like filler only. I guess further reading will tell for sure.
We meet Valentine, the vamp who tore up Anita’s arm and she once thought she’d killed. The vamp now intends to slaughter her once she completes her job for Nikolaos. Anita leaves the vampires and heads home.
Reader Comments: Lots of new people all at once. Is Hamilton presenting her list of potential suspects? This seems possible and logical, but since I don’t usually read mysteries, it never occurred to me until now.
Writer Comments: For all I feel like I’m having one character after another thrown at me without a decent understanding of why, Hamilton does a good job of reaching into Anita’s past to complicate the story. I also appreciated her explanation at the end of the chapter, cunningly given through Zachary’s dialogue, of why Anita hunts vampires. She’s afraid of them and destroys what she fears, unlike most humans who avoid their fears. It explains a great deal about Anita.
Anita gets home and finds that someone has broken into her apartment. It’s Edward, death to the supernaturals and Anita’s “friend.” He wants the location of where the master vampire sleeps during the day and not quite so subtly threatens Anita with torture should she not discover the information for him.
Reader Comments: Now, this guy seems interesting and somehow more of a threat. Perhaps this is because he’s human, and sometimes that’s scarier. One way or another, in a matter of just a few paragraphs, he establishes himself as the scariest character in the book. Good thing he’s on Anita’s side … sort of.
Writer Comments: Hamilton has some gorgeous description in this chapter, including comparing adrenaline to fine champagne. She also does a fabulous job of establishing Edward. His subtleties and smoothness are the keys.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s chapters of Guilty Pleasures. Join me next Monday for more.