has also reviewed:

Burnt Offerings

The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books are:

Guilty Pleasures
The Laughing Corpse
Circus of the Damned
The Lunatic Cafe
Bloody Bones
The Killing Dance
Burnt Offerings
Blue Moon

Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton
(Ace, $6.99, R -GV) ISBN 0-441-00574-8
Several months ago when I immersed myself in the fantasy world of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and read the first six books in order to review the seventh, I was given the highest compliment a reviewer can get – by my daughter, a tough critic. After reading the review, she borrowed all seven books. When I told her that I was reviewing the eighth Anita Blake book, Blue Moon, she requested, "Read fast." That was an easy task to accomplish and when she sees this five heart rating, she'll borrow it, too. Wonder if I'll ever see any of the books again?

An up front warning: Blue Moon is not for the squeamish. It is filled with gore and acts of depravity, to put it very mildly. As with my advice in the first review, I again emphasize that these books are a true series. If you begin with Blue Moon rather than with Guilty Pleasures, the first book, you are denying yourself the full impact of this series, and that would be a shame. The same characters are here, with new ones added to enhance the story. There is history in Blue Moon that is alluded to, but knowing the full background information makes the story so much fuller. It's a dynamite series. The books are still available at the major book chains.

Anita is now in a relationship with Jean-Claude, the master vampire of St. Louis. Laughing, I read her reason for choosing Jean-Claude over her ex-fiancé Richard, the werewolf.

I know there isn't a lot to choose from between a bloodsucker and a flesh-eater, but at least after Jean-Claude finished feeding, there weren't chunks between his fangs.

Gore mixed with humor...I love it. Anita receives a call, telling her that Richard is in Tennessee, jailed for attempted rape. Anita immediately knows that something is wrong. Richard would no more rape a woman than a deer would paint a target on its chest. She's on her way to Richard's side as soon as she can get her bags packed. She finally admits to herself that she still loves him.

Richard, whom Anita always thought of as a boy scout because of his naivete in believing in truth, justice and the American way, refuses to leave the area after his release. He's been studying the local trolls, an endangered species and uncovers a sinister plot. Someone wants to buy the land where the trolls live and will do anything to get that land, including framing Richard for rape. People are also being murdered, with evidence that points to the trolls.

This is our basic mystery, but the peripherals are great, too. Richard, Anita and friends also have to contend with the ruling vampire of the area, another pack of werewolves and a viciously corrupt police force. Anita's reputation has proceeded her. The local werewolf kingpin describes her as a solid, cast-iron, ball-busting bitch. Would you believe that these are words of praise?

Aside from being a tightly-plotted and well-structured story, there's another reason why Blue Moon is my favorite Anita Blake book to date: Richard. Hamilton has been see-sawing between Jean-Claude and Richard, who's the love interest in this story. There are two distinct camps of readers, one who wants Jean-Claude to be Anita's final choice. I've always been in Richard's camp, charmed by his naivete and his flowing chestnut hair. He's my pick of the preternatural litter. Let me illustrate. At the beginning, Jean-Claude arrives.

His shirt was a conservative business cut with fastened cuffs and a simple collar. It was red with the collar and cuffs a solid almost satiny scarlet. The rest of the shirt was some sheer fabric so that his arms, chest and waist were bare behind a sheen of red cloth.

Ah, Victoria Secrets for vampires. Myself, I prefer the clean-cut LL Bean look. Richard is the type to be found in khaki cords and a plaid shirt or khaki shorts with hiking boots. Leaving aside the superficial level of appearance, things are revealed about J-C in this story that make me glad I'm in Richard's camp. Yep, that was a teaser.

Richard, Jean-Claude and Anita are thirds of a triumvirate of power that Jean-Claude had forged. Both Anita and Richard grow, mature and begin to accept their uniqueness. Blue Moon shows us how this power is growing, changing and beginning to have a life of its on. Hamilton has again added a plot point which is riveting on its own. Raina, a thoroughly vile character killed in an earlier book, is back, but in a way we'd never expect. Anita's battle with Raina makes for some tense physical and psychological moments.

Another of Hamilton's skills is how she balances all this dark intensity with moments of biting wit, laugh aloud dark humor to relieve the tension. Most of it is sarcastic, but by now we know that's Anita's favorite form of humor. Damian, one of the vampires sent by Jean-Claude as Anita's bodyguard, states, I need to feed. Anita retorts, You want me to open the door and yell dinner? Here's her view on kissing a vampire. I slid my tongue between the delicate points of his fangs. I'd perfected the art of French kissing a vampire. Practice, practice.

Blue Moon is Laurell K. Hamilton's eighth book about the fantasy world of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Remarkable as it sounds, this series just keeps getting better and better. The characters of Anita the necromancer, Jean-Claude the vampire and Richard the werewolf are so well drawn, written with such depth, that they seem more than a fantasy...they almost seem alive. After a while, there's no need to suspend disbelief. You find yourself immersed in this different yet familiar world, wanting more.

--Linda Mowery

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