Here is the final segment of our read of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Guilty Pleasures. Next week, we’ll move onto another book, Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover. For those who wish to catch up, check out the other segments of this read, chapters 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, and 36-41.
Anita has another nightmare about Jean-Claude where he starts to force her to drink his blood, the third mark. Edward wakes her up just before her lips touch his blood. Bert, Anita’s boss calls, to tell her she has to lay a zombie to rest that night.
Reader Comments: The dreams make me particularly interested to find out Jean-Claude’s motivations for all he does. Is his forcing Anita to become his out of a survival attempt purely, or is there more underlying it. For me, this propels me through the book almost as much as the primarily plot. Well, honestly, Edward propels me too.
Writer Comments: Hamilton fills this chapter with two curious characters that are too complex to lay out and understand clearly: Jean-Claude and Edward. The mysteries of these men provide a rich under layer to the story as we see both their cold and caring sides, if indeed I can describe them so simply, which I doubt I can. Additionally, Hamilton strengthens the story in one other way: she keeps adding complications. This laying Jensen’s zombie to rest I trust will fit into Anita saving the day, but for now, it provides another obstacle for Anita to face.
At the cemetery, Edward and Anita wait, but Jensen doesn’t show up. With growing unease, Anita notices a ghoul perched on her car, waiting. Zachary arrives, and Anita realizes that he’s the vampire murderer and has used the ghouls to aid his work. He sets the ghouls on Edward and Anita, and they barely escape after shooting at them, fleeing, and blowing up a shed full of gasoline and lawnmowers.
Reader Comments: Yes! I was right! Zachary is the villain. Well, there are many villains in this book, so I suppose I should say he is the murderer.
Writer Comments: It’s a nice feeling as a reader to figure out something before the protagonist. It makes you feel smart, which is, of course, how a good author like Hamilton should make you feel. At the same time, you never want to give a reader the impression that the hero or heroine is dense and should have put the clues together chapters ago. That can leave a reader frustrated and throw them out of the story. So walk a careful balance.
Anita and Edward meet with the wererat king at a Denny’s. The rat king agrees to help Anita into the tunnels that lead to Nikolaos’s lair. In exchange, she promises to ensure the rats’ freedom.
Reader Comments: You know, I hate rats. I hate rats because they’re worse than mice, and I had mice in my house one year. It was awful. So it really took me aback when I started liking the rat king in this chapter. He has a certain nobility about him. Very cool.
Writer Comments: This chapter has the feel of pieces sliding into place, and it did not occur to me why until I started writing this comment. The reason it manages that feel is because for the first time in the whole book, everything goes well for Anita. Perhaps this should leave us with an ominous sensation, which it does a little, but mostly, it invokes a feeling of imminence. Go the whole book ruining a characters every chance to succeed, or near enough, and suddenly write a chapter that violates all that precedent and you ensure some sort of shift
Rafael, the rat king, leads Anita and Edward into the dungeon of Nikolaos’s lair. Fortunately for them, the dungeon door is unlocked, and they creep inside to slay the master vampire.
Reader Comments: This was a short chapter, so I don’t have much to say, except that, if things are going so well for Anita now, something awful must be about to blow up in her face.
Writer Comments: I mentioned the shortness of the chapter above. Length of chapters, paragraphs, sentences, and even words can have a great effect on pacing and tension. The climax of the book is right around the corner. A short chapter aids the feeling of tension, speed, and threat. Also, the fact that Hamilton has chosen to use short chapters throughout the book, though many not as short as this, gives the feel that Guilty Pleasures is fast paced and tense, which it is, but chapter length facilitates this.
Anita and Edward find a room of coffins and kill Valentine, Aubrey, and another vampire through a combination of shotgun shells and silver nitrate injections. The last coffin awaits them, but when they open it, expecting to find Nikolaos, it’s empty. Nikolaos instead comes upon them with Burchard and Zachary and takes them prisoner. Then they call in Philip, the newly raised zombie.
Reader Comments: Silver nitrate injections, there’s a nice, creative touch. It fits Edward; though, I completely sympathize with Anita. There’s nothing like seeing a vampire’s parts severed or blown apart to really feel like they’re dead.
Writer Comments: This is a quieter chapter than I would have expected so close to the end of the book, but it plays up the tension well. As a reader, I get all I wanted: Valentine and Aubrey dead, yay, an even more impressive Nikolaos, and the worst possible odds for Anita and Edward so I can enjoy seeing them win in the next chapter.
Nikolaos takes everyone but Philip down to the dungeon. She toys with Anita and pits her against Burchard in a knife fight. Anita reveals she knows who the vampire murderer is to distract everyone and kills Burchard. Nikolaos rages, rips out Zachary’s throat, and attacks Anita, Edward distracts her, and then while Nikolaos attacks Edward, Anita slaughters her with Burchard’s sword. While Edward waits with the wererats, Anita frees Jean-Claude, the new master of the city, who Anita helped place on the throne, a fact he points out that infuriates Anita. Then she lays a very frightened Philip to rest in his grave at last.
Reader Comments: The fight at the end was more realistic than some I’ve read and seen in movies, but it lacked some of the dramatic that I expected. The realism was nice; the buildup and payoff not quite what I hoped. Plus I still can’t figure Jean-Claude fully out. But oh wow, how sad it was when Anita laid Philip to rest. I almost wept with her, and I don’t cry when I read books.
Writer Comments: One of Hamilton’s strengths is that she incorporates realism into the actions and consequences of her story. Anita doesn’t know how to use a sword, but she manages to swing it just well enough to hack Nikolaos to death. Exhaustion and fear drag at Anita throughout the book, and Hamilton is very good about remembering they exist as well as Anita’s wounds. I can accept that Anita is tough as nails even more readily when Hamilton reminds me that Anita is scraped up and bruised but still pushing through to do her job. The realism makes the story more believable and makes me root for Anita even more. It’s relatable.
The epilogue and setup for the next book. This chapter is very short, less than a page, so I will not attempt to summarize and comment on it in the usual way, both of which would result in a commentary longer than the chapter. I will simply say that Hamilton ends the book with Anita receiving long stemmed white roses from Jean-Claude and an invitation to go dancing, but Anita tells him no, as doesn’t date vampires, she kills them. Hamilton neatly sets up further conflict in Anita and Jean-Claude’s relationship and ends Guilty Pleasures on a simple but victorious note.
Overall, I really enjoyed Guilty Pleasures and would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes urban fantasy, vampires, zombies, mysteries, a touch of romance, and the undead. For the sake of offering variety and not getting locked into only urban fantasy, I will not continue onto the second book of the series, at least, not yet. However, soon, I may take a look at A Kiss of Shadows with an eye to comparing the two series.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this read of Guilty Pleasures and would love to see you back next week for The Silver Metal Lover by Tanish Lee. If anyone has suggestions for other books for this sort of read, I’d be happy to take a look at them. Just leave them in the comments section of this post. As these reads, the first, Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, and Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton, were inspired by Tor.com’s rereads, all of which have been male authors, I’m making a point of focusing on female authors. Any suggestions are welcome.
Have a wonderful week, everyone, and I hope to see you back Wednesday for my next post and Monday for my next read.