Welcome to the second to last segment of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Guilty Pleasures. For the previous sections, check out my commentary on chapters 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, and 31-35.
To avoid Edward torturing her for information she doesn’t have, Anita checks her messages from a pay phone with the intent of staying out all night. Willie’s message tells her that they’ve taken Philip and are hurting him. He urges Anita to come quickly. Nikolaos’s message follows next daring Anita to come get her “lover.” Then Edward picks up and tells Anita to tell him where she is so he can help her. Anita hangs up on him and drives off to rescue Philip, filled with anger, hate, and terror.
Reader Comments: Yes, I know Anita thinks that Edward is the murderer, but I still think she should have accepted his offer for help. It didn’t strike me as insincere; though, perhaps he hoped that in helping her he would also discover Nikolaos’s sleeping place.
Writer Comments: I never would have guessed that the climax of this book would involve Philip and that I’d actually care about his fate. Maybe I’m a bit unusual, but I truly didn’t like him at first. Now, I’m holding my breath hoping Anita gets there in time and hoping he’s not too mauled and messed up mentally and emotionally because of whatever the vamps inflict on him. What a way to make the readers invest in a character, especially one that possessed some less than admirable traits. What’s Hamilton’s trick? Give him depth and a dash of the heroic. Reveal the good layers that lie deep inside.
Anita goes to the Circus of the Damned to rescue Philip. There, Winter escorts her down to the dungeon where Nikolaos, Valentine, and Aubrey slowly bleed Philip to death, bite by bite. Through humbling herself to Nikolaos and calling her master, Anita managed to get a moment alone with Philip and offer him a tiny fragment of comfort and hope.
Reader Commentary: Really, I have no idea how Anita is going to get out of all this, much less how she’ll manage to rescue Philip and everyone else along the way. Oh, and Nikolaos is definitely turning into one of the more memorable vampires I know.
Writer Commentary: A clue to the fact that the showdown nears: all the villains are starting to gather. We’re just waiting for a few, which I assume will show up shortly: Edward, Zachary, and Jean-Claude, though I’m not sure what to classify him as. (As I reread my comment here after finishing reading the next few chapters, I understand now that this is not truly the climax of the story but a method to kick Anita further down so she has a more impressive and tougher fight ahead of her.)
Anita unwillingly attends Nikolaos in her throne room and discovers that the reason Nikolaos tortures Philip is because of what Jean-Claude did to Anita. Without Anita’s knowledge or permission, he gave her two marks and has been feeding off Anita’s energy while locked in the coffin. Since Nikolaos cannot kill Jean-Claude without making him a martyr, she plans on killing Philip, something Jean-Claude protected, to prove Jean-Claude weak. Anita races to save Philip but comes after his throat has been torn out. She kills Aubrey before Nikolaos arrives in a rage. Anita runs, but Nikolaos catches her just before she can escape and attacks her mind. Just before Nikolaos drinks her blood, Anita sinks her teeth into Nikolaos’s delicate ear and doesn’t let up, despite Nikolaos’s screaming and thrashing, until she passes out.
Reader Comments: No! I wanted Philip to survive. And ouch, what a unique and painful way for Anita to get Nikolaos. I never would have thought of gnawing her ear.
Writer Comments: This chapter is significant in many ways. 1) It shows that this is a serious series. Characters can and will die. As a result, the tension becomes greater. 2) For the first time, we see how Anita manages to face vampires successfully, with wits and sheer desperate luck. 3) It reveals key information that I assume will greatly impact the future of the story, namely Jean-Claude and Anita’s odd supernatural relationship.
Anita wakes up in Guilty Pleasures. Nikolaos dropped her off after biting her neck. In the bathroom of Guilty Pleasures, Anita throws a furious fit and cries and determines to destroy Nikolaos.
Reader Comments: A short chapter but I’m right on board with Anita the whole way. My stomach clenches at the bite, and while I really hoped that something better had happened to her, I feel even more invested in her butchering Nikolaos. Oh yeah, and getting the vampire murderer, that too.
Writer Comments: This chapter is all about Anita’s emotional reaction to all the horror and terror she’s just experienced. It’s about bringing her to her lowest point. One of the reason I like this one so much is because we see Anita grieve and throw a tantrum. If well understood, it’s still a tantrum. It’s realistic and all too often skipped in books. But it makes her even more human and sympathetic.
Anita leaves Guilty Pleasure at dawn and runs into Edward, who points a gun at her and takes her weapons. She tells him, she’ll give him Nikolaos if she gets a piece of her too. Edward agrees.
Reader Comments: Oh yes, Edward. I’d almost forgotten. This scene suits him well, totally in control, better than the vamps in some ways, and completely mercenary with an odd affection.
Writer Comments: So Edward will be Anita’s second and aid. This fits. As caring as Hamilton has shown that Anita is about other, it would feel odd if she went into a climax alone. She seems a character reliant upon her relationship to others, and so, it only fits that this is a part of the plot. Therefore, the structure of the plot and the interplay of characters support Anita’s character.
Edward helps Anita purify the vampire bit on her neck. It’s an agonizing process of pouring holy water over it again and again. The final test is when Edward touches the wound with a cross and Anita’s flesh doesn’t burn. Edward helps Anita to bed and watches over her with a Mini-Uzi while she sleeps.
Reader Comments: Okay, I know Edward isn’t exactly a good guy and he threatened to torture Anita, but I really like him. Sure, he’s scary. Sure, he’s probably one step short of a complete psychopath, but he’s kind of sweet to Anita. Though, in a weird way, he kind of got his wish to torture her after all. Holy water over a vampire bite sounded like torture to me when Anita endured it.
Writer Comments: This chapter outlays Anita and Edward’s relationship perfectly. They help each other, so long as there’s a profit in it, but through it all, there’s a strange level of care.
Join me next Monday for the last section of Guilty Pleasures.