Well, the strep throat is still with me, but I was able to curl up and read for a while. So, today, in chapters 26-30 of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Guilty Pleasures, we get to see the grisly happenings at this particular freak party. Check out the previous Monday posts for chapters 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, and 21-25.
Still at the freak party, Darlene, the girl Edward comes with, tempts Philip toward his previous indulgences. Philip resists and takes Anita off to the bathroom to cool off. There, Harvey, the party’s host, spies on them through the window, and Anita submits to Philip’s kisses to keep up appearances. But Philip takes advantage and bites her neck, marking her. After, he claims he won’t have to touch her again that night nor will anyone else, but she’s not so certain he’s trustworthy.
Reader Comments: I suspect that, while Philips loyalties are still with the vamps, Anita’s genuine care for him as a human being will sway him more to her side over time. And ick about that bite to the neck. I don’t blame Anita for deciding to be tough-as-nails after; though, I’m afraid that’s going to get her into worse trouble.
Writer Comments: Anita cannot go anywhere without more lurking danger revealing itself: Harvey at the window, Philip’s advances, Edward’s threat to torture her, the vamps, the freak partiers. The list goes on and on. This is extremely good. Plus, the fact that I can’t make up my mind about Philip speaks volumes for Hamilton’s writing. It isn’t that he’s not well developed and thus too vague to pinpoint. Rather, he’s complex and interesting, someone to root for and hope he makes good guy choices. If you’re going to write a character that will keep the reader guessing, make him deep and complex.
Anita goes out for some air and comes upon Theresa and other of Nikolaos’s vampires making Zachary raise a hundred-year-old corpse, which he can’t do. To stop them from killing him, Anita offers to share their talent to raise the zombie together. To get the chance, she also intimidates Theresa, a feat that leaves her head spinning with the sheer stupidity and success of it.
Reader Comments: I enjoy seeing Anita bully Theresa. Theresa deserves it, and Anita deserves a little success about now.
Writer Comments: I’ve no idea why Hamilton chooses to show Zachary’s potential death because he can’t raise the zombie. I feel a bit like I’m holding a bunch of threads that hang in all different directions and I’ve got no idea how they fit together or where they lead. The thing that makes most sense at this point is that Anita’s honest care for the lives of human beings, however much she dislikes them, will prove the crucial thing she needs to win the day. We’ll see. I’m sure those of you who have read it are grinning with either a “Yep, that’s right” or a “Not even close.”
Because the zombie raising ritual went wrong, Anita offers herself and Zachary as the required sacrifice. They managed to raise a long dead bride, and in the process, Anita realizes that Zachary is also dead but faking life pretty well with a gris gris he wears. Because Zachary is not truly alive, Anita must feed the zombie her own blood. Sick and disgusted with it all, she hurries away after, listening to the frightened zombie bride scream as the vampires close in on her.
Reader Comments: A morbid, grisly scene, and I still don’t understand its purpose. What could the vampires possibly want with the long dead bride? Is she simply the victim of some twisted game? It doesn’t seem enough for her to simply come into the story because the vampires wanted an excuse to kill Zachary. I never thought I’d feel bad for a zombie.
Writer Comments: Through her actions in this section, Anita reinforces the depth and strength of her character. However, since I don’t see or understand any importance to the scene, it baffles me. Learning Zachary’s secret doesn’t seem enough of a reason for a whole scene. Hopefully, some clue was embedded in the zombie bride raising that I and Anita will figure out later.
Nikolaos comes to Anita as she sits catching her breath in the grass. Anita makes a bargain with her: if Nikolaos puts the zombie to rest right then, she gets to lick the bite wound on Anita’s throat. Willie and Philip try to stop it, but Anita holds to her word. Before Nikolaos can lick but after the zombie is supposedly laid to rest, a commotion erupts at the house where the freak party is still in progress. The Church of Eternal Life has arrived, and Nikolaos hightails it before the bargain can be completed. Willie, Philip, and Anita run for the car, and Anita holds off the vamps and a human with her gun as they escape, but for how long?
Reader Comments: More unanswered questions emerge in this chapter, and I’d dearly love to know the answers. What does Nikolaos get from licking Anita’s wound? What purpose did the zombie raising serve? Is Philip more concerned with his master keeping her word by not hurting Anita or Anita’s genuine safety? I’m betting the second. And where in the world is Jean-Claude?
Writer Comments: Hamilton pulled a nice trick in this chapter. She bypassed the need to go into extraordinary, gruesome detail about the freak parties. She previously gave just enough information in the human attendants that Anita first encounters to set a tone and give a flavor, but that’s it. The rest is still up to our imaginations.
As they race away, Philip is elated at his bravery in standing up to Nikolaos on Anita’s behalf. He also realizes what he’s pretty messed up. Anita, to spare him some of his self-loathing, confesses that the kiss before he bit her was actually nice and that she’d regret it if he died. Philip also tells her that Nikolaos had been the one giving him orders to seduce her.
Reader Comments: This almost has everything it needs to nudge forward a relationship between Anita and Philip, almost. But I suspect Philip is more a red herring than the real guy. (It helps a little that I know from the tiny bit I’ve heard previously about the series that the love triangle is between Anita, Jean-Claude, and a werewolf. When do I get to meet the werewolf by the way? I really like werewolves.)
Writer Comments: This chapter is very short, but it contains loads of elements, which give it its weighty punch: a clue (Why would Nikolaos want Anita seduced?), tension from a narrow and likely not fully completed escape, and development on the parts of Philip and some Anita.
Join me Wednesday and Friday for more journeys into the speculative, and come back next Monday for chapters 31-35 of Guilty Pleasures.