Tuesday, October 11, 2016

ARC Review and Giveaway: Crimson Death by Laurell K. Hamilton

Series:     Anita Blake #25
Pub. Date:Oct. 11, 2016
Publisher:Berkley
Length:720 pages
Source:NetGalley

Anita and the boys (and a few girls) are back to solve the world's vampire problems while trying to manage their own personal lives and dramas, and keep us entertained all the while. I do love the worlds that Laurell K. Hamilton has built in this series (as well as the Merry Gentry series). She has a gift at creating characters and personalities that draw the reader in... and she definitely has her work cut out for her when the series has grown this big with such a large number of main characters.

Jean-Claude and Anita are still planning the wedding of the century, while Anita, Micah and Nathaniel continue with their plans for a commitment ceremony. It seems like this has been going on forever and I am eager to see what kind of drama each of the ceremonies bring... because you know the wedding is not going to go off without a hitch when you have such an abundance of fangs, fur, magic and enemies. Due to the polyandry nature of the book, there is always always always some kind of relationship drama occurring. This time Damien seems to have reached his limit with Cardinale, and he just wants a little of what Anita and the gang have. He wants to be desired and happy, and I wanted that for Damien as I have always liked his character. So I was happy to see that Anita, Nathaniel and Damien were working to strengthen their bond and triumvirate of power in this installment. I do wish their would have been more Jean-Claude in this book though as I feel like Micah and Nathaniel have started to steal the show a bit. (And of course I could be remembering wrong as I read the bulk of this series so long ago.)

This book offers a unique treat for the series as we see Anita and gang going international, which doesn't happen all that often. When Edward, in his guise as Ted Forrester, calls Anita from Ireland about a new vampire problem, her interest is definitely piqued. For all she knew, there were no vampires in Ireland. I really liked the Irish setting and folklore including the fey/gentle folk, selkies/roane and magic of the land. Ireland was so full of life that Anita's necromancy really took a back seat and she had to rely on some of the other powers she has gained/siphoned/absorbed in prior books.

I continue to enjoy Edward as Anita's sidekick, best friend (and now best man). He always brings a bit of scary humor to the story... and this time he brings his friend Nolan along with a tactical-team-in-training. I have a feeling we will be seeing more Nolan in future books. It's interesting to see Edward's "normal" family life as he is still planning his own wedding to Donna... and I find it somewhat jarring to see him switch from cold-blooded killer to father figure. Though I did enjoy the conversation between Nathaniel and Edward about Peter... it made Edward seem just a little more human I think.

So the main players in this book (besides Anita) were Damien, Nathaniel, Nicky, Dev, Domino, Ethan, Magda, Kaziim and Jake. There are so many people in the story now that I do sometimes have a hard time keeping them straight. I couldn't remember Ethan for the life of me, so a re-read might be in order before too much longer. Once Nolan's tactical team was added in, I found myself getting confused easily and not knowing who was participating in the dialogue. I did get bogged down several times and have to go back and re-read parts... but then realized that if I just stopped doing that and pushed through I understood enough to get by. (Of course all this confusion could be due to the fact that I couldn't stop reading so a good chunk of the story was before my eyes from midnight to 4am.) I also wish there would have been a little more fast-paced action. I like seeing Anita and friends in their ass-kicking roles and like to see more non-relationship drama sprinkled in throughout the story. In this installment, most of the action is stuffed into the last 10%.

I was a bit confused on the title, Crimson Death. When Damien is having nightmares at the beginning of the story and sweating blood, I thought for sure that this was going to be the basis for the plot and title. But I was totally wrong and didn't pick up on anything else in the story that would have triggered the title, unless you are counting the Irish vampire creation/killing. I felt like the story was more about a dark fear than a crimson death. But I am excited to see the direction the series is about to take. I think things are going to branch out from America and we may see more international intrigue in the future.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Berkley via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 4 stars / 4 flames.

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