In the Darkest of the Nights. In the Whitest of the Moon. In the Thickets of the Woods. In the Guise of a Werewolf:
Within this Woodland Realm, lurks He - who Snarls this Night. Within this Misty Wood, lurks He - who Lures this Eve. Within this Moonlight Realm, lurks He - who Howls this Twilight. Within this Forest Glen, lurks He - who Walks this Path! But what Path would that be then? Well ... Thy Path of thy Werewolf - but of course :) For it is an Ancient Path, that's Steeped in Lore ... For only in the Darkest Nights, in the Darkest Woods - can you See Them. For only in the Brightest Moons, in the Brightest Haze - can you Hear Them. For only in the Blackest Clouds, in the Blackest Skies - can you Feel Them. For only in the Whitest Mists, in the Whitest Dews - can you Sense Them. For only in the ... Growl! On a Night like this, in a Forest like this - may you See Them ... Steeped in Lore, and Steeped in Fantasy. Steeped in Myth, and Steeped in Sight. Steeped in Shadow, and Steeped in Lunar. For I see a Werewolf - in his Bestial Form ... With Fur on Muscle, both Long and Flow. With Claws to Tear, both Sharp and Point. With Tail of Whip, both Twirl and Slender. With Piercing Eyes, both Green and Maleficent. With Skeletal Hands, both Strong and Vice. With Nose to Sniff, both Hunt and Stalk. As it is with these Werewolves, and their Hunting Ways ... Built for Battle, in their Heightened Frenzy. Built for Speed, in their Paws of Four. Built for Ravage, in their Strength of Ten. Built for Chase, in their Mark of Wolf. Built for Warring, in their Need for Fight. Built for Pack, in thy Brothers Will! For this Werewolf is ... Thy Master, of this Midnight's Path :) But can this Werewolf see me? Well ... With a Sniff of Scent - his Torso Twisted. With a Hint of Sweat - his Sharpened Claws. With a Sound of Rustle - his Barring Teeth. With a Snap of Twig - his Growling Voice. With a Tremble of Branch - his Glowing Eyes. With a Sense of Fear - he's Honed on You! As it is with these Werewolves, and their Sense of Self ... Some Tattered Jeans, around his Waist - no Human Eyes, just Greenish Glow. Some Whispers of Man, around his Chest - no Human Skin, just Wolf-like Fur. Some Stance of King, around his Form - no Human Cower, just Strength of Wolf. Growl!! Thy Werewolf and his Victim ... No Thought of Reason, just Dream of Hunger. No Look of Friend, just Guise of Prey. No Need of Logic, just Want of Eat. Growl!!! For this Werewolf, is Home in both - Dark Fantasy, and Heart of Woods. For this Werewolf, is Known by both - Creatures of Night, and Guardian of Forest. For this Werewolf, is Slave in both - Powers of Moon, and Lunar Hour. For this Werewolf, is Pride in both - Secret Woods, and Regal Guise. For this Werewolf, is Herald in both - Harbinger of Death, and Hunting Pack. For this Werewolf, is King in both - Midnight's Realm, and Darkest Nights. He'd Seen Me!
Being the fourth Vampire novel, in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, do I find this Dark and Urban Fantasy Tale, to be a passionate mix of both Anita's Love Life, and thy Secret Realms - of thy Werewolves:
Being hip deep in both, it's as though Anita, is on the verge of drowning ... Her Passions Run Deep, and a Promise is a Promise - Deputy Numb Nuts :) And yes, there's a fair amount of humour, within this Fantasy Tale! For me though, is this intermixed, with an important underlying theme - that of Family ... There's the Werewolves and their Pack Order. There's the Vampires and their Hands Off. There's the Spook Squad and their Silver Bullets. And in the middle of all three, can you find - Anita!!! I liked the fact that Anita, refused to give up her friend - even if her boyfriend, was his Alpha. I liked the fact that Anita, shed a tear or two - even if her rival, was her Jealous. I liked the fact that Anita, stemmed the flow of blood - even if her colleague, was her Rag (aka joker). For it's Anita's Character, and her sense of self, that flows throughout this tale. For it's Anita's Enemies, and their stance of power, that stalks throughout this tale. For it's Anita's Weapons, and their sense of comfort, that beds throughout this tale. And in all of this? Is there Jean-Claude, who wants a date! Fairs Fair Anita, give me a chance to woo you - as you did to me :) Now, if there's one part that shocked me (the most) within this tale, then I would say - it's the hierarchy of the Werewolves. The tale here, gave me a sense, that they were all: out of control! Insane Pack Order, seemed to help with this ... There's two Master Werewolves, but neither has - over all control. One prefers Peace - the other: Head on a Block. One requests Anita - the other: Seeds of Lust. One's Richard. One's Marcus. One's Marcus. One's Richard. For it's Werewolf Central, that's Caged behind - Closed Doors, and Sound Proof Walls. Or is it? As in this tale, did I find that the Secrets of the Werewolves - flowed like a River :) And in that River, that goes by the name of Shape Shifter, did I find both Mythical Creatures, and their Fantasy/Lore ... For example: I've never heard of a Naga before, but here - is their an Immortal Being, with the Skin of a Snake. I've never heard of a Were-Swan before, but here - is their the lowest of the Shape Shifters, especially in Feathered White! And of the Werewolves themselves? I was most intrigued, because their Human Lives, seemed to be lived in the pursuit, of challenging their Human Shackles. There's two that I would say, challenged this more than others - and no, it's not the Alphas! The two Fantasy Characters that I'm thinking of (one Woman one Man), both made me laugh (especially the woman - over whose rules she follows!), and both surprised me (over just how low they could steep - in their pursuits of pleasure?). Fortunately, throughout all of this, did I find Anita's Character - to be a rock. Even if at times, it is only the cold hard steel, that she clamps down on - but where is her gun? Choices! Choices! As for the other Characters within this Fantasy tale, it's mostly Cops. I didn't like some of these, and neither does Anita. There's a whole part (near the beginning of the book), that just seems totally crazy - with certain Deputies, taking their orders, too literally ... It is also here that I feel, that the tale does a decent job, of portraying some of the lunacies, of interstate boundaries (between various police forces) - although as you will see, there's a twist here to! And as for Anita? It made me laugh, that she was concerned primarily, with an important question (or two): Can she date a Werewolf? Can she date a Monster? AKA: Is Richard really a Monster? And what of Jean-Claude? Choices! Choices! Fortunately for Anita, does she have a trusty friend to help her: a Penguin or two :) Overall: I enjoyed reading about the Werewolves within this tale, even if I feel, that some of their Urban Fantasy, shocked me a little (as it seemed a little Darker - than I've encountered before). I also found myself thinking, of the Wolf in Werewolf - more than the Man in Werewolf. Although the twist towards the end (involving a Witch and her Magic), brought new meaning to the term - Shape Shifter! For it's a Witch's Spell, that Anita Blake does cast. For it's an Animator's Gift, that Anita Blake, can look a Vampire in the Eye. For she's a Vampire Hunter, with a Werewolf called Richard, a Bounty Hunter called Death - and a Promise is a Promise! Deputy Numb Nuts :)
My third outing into the Fantasy Vampire Slaying Realms of Anita Blake, comes with both some draw-dropping moments, and some as-you-would-expect, white Roses from Jean-Claude:
One particular part of this Fantasy Tale, caused my draw to drop the most! It's pertaining to a particular question: how old can a Vampire be? Now, I must confess - I'd never really thought about this before ... And yet, Anita had me pondering this question (for quite some time). Whilst I won't name the Vampire here, I too, like Anita, was fooled by his Fairy Glamour! Another draw-dropping moment, was the realisation of just how - Rivers of Blood, Anita's Urban Fantasy Realm can be ... Part of this comes from the Circus of the Damned itself (a Fantasy Location) - where who can tell what's real, what's Dark Fantasy? Part of this comes from Anita's interactions, with the other Vampires within this Tale - which I feel, is mostly due, to the fact that Anita has more Master Vampires after her, than you can shake a stick at! Two of these (Master Vampires) want her Love (or maybe just her Body?). Two of these want her as a Human Servant (but she can only serve one Master). And Anita is, no one's Human Servant - as she carries more Knives, and Guns, plus Crosses, to drive that point home. I guess I was just struck (or is that staked?), by the brutality of some of the Vampires (within this tale) - which at the same time, also contrasts well, with the fact that at least one, likes to wear a Suit and Tie ... Mixed in with this, is the fact that Anita is still on retainer, to the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (aka the Spook Squad) - which for me, takes more of a back seat, in the second half of this novel. Despite this, there was still one draw-dropping moment: when I was in awe of an Animalistic Vampire, that had managed to tear through a five feet thick silver door, that was also adorned with crosses - as it raised a question ... How could any human stand against such power? Well ... Anita's not entirely human herself any more, which is probably just-as-well, as a Lamia (a Mythical Creature that can turn from a human into a snake), has set her eyes on her! In any case, I found myself laughing, at the character of Anita's friend - Edward. In one chapter, Edward considers torturing Anita, to get the name of the Master of the City from her - whilst in another chapter, is Edward at her side again, helping to bandage a wound on her back (after a Master Vampire thought he owned her). I was especially pleased, with the amount of Lore (related to Mythical Creatures), that I found within this Tale ... The first of these, was concerned with Vampires. As through this Tale, did I learn more about what it is to be a Vampire's Creature: as a Vampire has an Animal that it can call. In the case of Jean-Claude, it's Wolves (including Werewolves). In the case of another Master Vampire (the Oldest I have heard of), it's Snakes (including Lamia). Where as in the case of Anita's first Tale (Guilty Pleasures), it was Rats (including Were-Rats). Then did I learn more about Werewolf Lore - for I learned that the older a Werewolf is, the more able it is, to pass for human (when in human form), and the more likely it is (especially in my opinion), to recover from injuries, that would kill a human. For someone like Anita (a Necromancer), I enjoyed the twist that she could not tell, that Richard (her date/lover) was a Werewolf, and that she could not tell, how old the Oldest Vampire (in this tale) was, other than from a conventional source (aka a study book!). Added to this, is the fact that Anita now has an Apprentice (whether she wants one or not), who she sets about (with some persuasion), to teach her Animator skills to (aka - the ability to raise Zombies from the Grave). This in-turn, plays right into the Powers of the Vampires, where her Apprentice, soon realises just how powerful, these Master Vampires can be! In Conclusion: This Dark Fantasy Vampire Slayer Tale, is packed full of plots, and sub-plots throughout the entire novel. There's so much going on, that the book could just-as-easily have been called, Anita's in Hot Demand :) It is somewhat contradictory then, that I feel that the end of this book, was somewhat rushed ... I would have enjoyed a longer Final Fight, even if the cause of Anita's quick victory, was due to the fact that she shared Jean-Claude's/Alejandro's Vampire Strength (on account of being his/their Human Servant). In any case, Anita has one rule she still won't break - she doesn't date Dead things! And as for those white Roses? Well ... She gave them away :) And as for Richard? Well ... A Werewolf may be a Monster, but a Werewolf is still, very much alive! And after all, Anita is, and always will be - a Necromancer :)
This is my second outing into the Fantasy World of Anita Blake - Vampire Hunter. It's an outing that I found had me questioning the morals, that some Fantasy Characters have, and learning more about Anita's personality - within the Realms of Voodoo:
The tale starts where it finishes really - in Harold Gaynor's presence. Yet, between those pages, did I find a tale that both surprised, and exceeded my expectations. I think part of this allure, comes from the pondering of a question: who/what exactly is The Laughing Corpse? Which ironically, I tended to forget about within this tale, but was reminded of every-time, I glanced at the cover :) It was not until half way through this tale, that I knew what it was - and it was not until the end of the tale, that I gained the who, or at least a suspicion of the who, that I felt the term/title applied to! In doing so, did I like the fact that this tale, goes to great lengths, to explain Anita's role as an Animator (one who raises the Dead for a living). Whilst being a somewhat lonely occupation, is there an honoured/abided by rule - that when one Animator dies, that all the other Animators, attend their Funeral. This may not seem like much, but it does introduce the concept of a family hierarchy. And in that hierarchy, did I find all manner of twists ... First: is the fact that an Animator, who Anita learned her trade from, Crosses the Line. So far Across that Line, is her friend, that Anita finds that she doesn't really know, who they are any more! Second: is the fact that fellow Animators, do not have to be polite all the time, often seeming distant - but they can be snapped right back in (to focus), when it comes to family concerns. Anita helps one of The Greats (in the Realms of Animators plus Voodoo), only to discover - that his Brother, was Not So Great, after-all! Third: is the fact that not all Animators have to be Living, and that those who are Dead, have no concept of - Drawing the Line. And it is this theme, that I found, helped connect me to Anita's Character further: as she very definitely does Draw the Line, and there's one thing that she won't do, in this Midnight Realm of Animator (except in self defence). Yet here did I find some irony, for in the name of self defence, will Anita do whatever it takes - which lead to a somewhat eye raising finale to this tale (for me). It also lead to a realisation that Anita is more powerful than both I, and many others, have thought before ... This goes for both Jean-Claude (her so-called Master Vampire), and for her sworn Enemy (within this tale): Dominga Salvador, High Voodoo Priestess and Admirer! Well, I say Admirer, more the Godmother of Animator/Voodoo, who wants Anita to help her with a business venture ... It is here, that Anita Draws the Line again, and in doing so, does Anita have a Midnight disturbance, which is the stuff of Nightmares really! Especially for her Penguins ... Suffice to say, Anita is gunning for Dominga after this, but she still has a job to do: investigate the local murders, and find a killer Zombie. In doing this, does Anita explain more about her Powers of being an Animator ... It's more something she Feels, she can just talk to the Dead. It's more something She Is, she can just Raise an entire Graveyard. For Anita is, and always will be, a Necromancer! Who just-so-happens, to have her best friends wedding to attend, doesn't like the bridesmaids gowns, and why on earth - did she set her alarm for six in the morning? Overall: An Urban Fantasy tale, that binds Vampires, Werewolves and Animators together - within the Dark Fantasy Realms of Voodoo. Dominga Salvador is Voodoo Incarnate, who compels Anita to do something she doesn't want to do. And no, it's not to be a bridesmaid! It's Voodoo Magic, but it's not quite the same as a Master Vampire's, nor is it the same as a humble Animator's ... For Anita is a Necromancer, and her language is - ma petite :) A.K.A - I just love Anita Blake, but not that coffee!
When it comes to a Fantasy Novel, that combines both Dark Fantasy (Vampires) and Urban Fantasy (Hidden Realms within a Modern City), then you really can't go far wrong - with Anita Blake and her Guilty Pleasures:
This Vampire Hunter Novel, holds a special place within my heart - as it's the first such tale/story, that I ever read :) Having been used to reading Sword and Planet Fantasies, I found this book/author a little different at first - as Laurell appears to be a fan of few pages to a chapter, but many chapters in a tale (which was totally different to what I was used to). Fortunately, I soon connected with Anita - and was glad that I did, as there's several parts about this novel, that I really like. First: Anita is not your typical Vampire Hunter ... She's only five feet tall, has an addiction to coffee (yuck!), has a strange sense of humour (only laughing at her own jokes), sees Vampire Hunting as her non-primary job (at least initially), and collects fluffy toy Penguins (which really made me laugh!). It was here that I fell for Anita's Character :) Second: Anita knows just what it's like, to have to juggle multiple jobs at once ... First and Foremost, Anita is an Animator (as in she raises the Dead for a living). But she's also the Spook Squad's supernatural advisor (being called in on Undead Cases), and a Vampire Hunter - which in this tale, starts to take precedence, as it usually keeps her up till 3 am or so! As such, Anita knows just what it's like, to have hardly any social life, an even crappier dating life - and a dozen pure white, long stemmed Roses, from a Vampire she doesn't want to date (even if she's attracted to him!). It was here that I started to feel that I knew Anita :) Third: Anita just seems to be like so many of us ... Up to her neck in challenges, that come looking for her, whether she wants them to or not! In the case of one Vampire (Valentine), that's very strongly a not - but with her Trusty Stake, or is that her Shotgun? Anita goes looking for the things that scare her :) Thank goodness for Sigmund - her favourite toy Penguin! It was here that I connected with Anita's sense of humour. Fourth: The shear amount of Dark Fantasy Creatures that Anita encounters ... There's Vampires and Ghouls, there's Werewolves and Were-Rats. There's two Master Vampires, contrasted so different - one Coffin one Rule, One Marker, one Scary. One is Jean-Claude. One is just Wrong! And it is this Master Vampire, donned Nikolaos - that both Anita and I, fear to encounter. For the character of Nikolaos, sends a shiver down my spine! She does worse to Anita, which I found slightly ironic - as just possibly, both have a sense of humour - that's akin to each other? In any case, I loved the interactions between Anita and Nikolaos. It was here that I learned more about Vampire Society (such as Fantasy Vampire Powers, and the concept of a Human Servant). Fifth: the fact that Anita is still a woman ... She can't decide what she wants to wear, gets cravings for both coffee and food (although there's a twist to the latter), fancies the wrong guy (even if he does have a fit body!) and often fails to take her own advice - even when she made it up :) Overall: I found this Fantasy Novel, a great introduction to the Realms of Vampire Hunting - that's also different, to other Dark/Urban Fantasy (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I found Anita's character to be both engaging and likeable (especially her sense of humour). If there's one part of this tale that I don't like/find odd - then it's the Fantasy Character called Edward. He's a Vampire/Bounty Hunter, who Anita builds up to be - Death on Two Legs. Yet, when it comes to several encounters in the storyline, Edward is the first to behave like a scaredy-cat - where as Anita is doing what she loves best, seeking out the things she fears, and sticking a Stake (or a Sword!) through them :)
When it comes to finding out about Mythical Creatures, this is my favourite book to read:
I like the fact that I can watch a fantasy film, or read a fantasy novel - then (usually) consult this book, for the background/history of the mythical creature (that I was interested in). Its entries are organised alphabetically - which saves time, when you know the name of the mythical creature (that you wish to lookup). With the reading of numerous entries, I have realised that mythical creatures originate from many places, and that several countries will often share, the same belief (in a particular creature). For example: some are found in the beliefs of ancient cultures (such as the American Indians), some are found in a different time (such as the belief that humans, could at one time, converse with the animals), some are found in nature (such as the belief that monsters are responsible for the shaping of the Earth/Weather) and some are found in specific locations (such as the side of a mountain - or a secluded loch). Three adventure-fantasy entries that I enjoyed reading are: Dragons (a wealth of information on - I especially liked the descriptions for Japan/China, together with the connections to strength, power and treasure), Elves (with several different views of) and Trolls (who are usually bad news - for adventurers/travellers). Two dark-fantasy entries that I enjoyed reading are Vampires (present throughout time and culture) and Werewolves (who have an interesting connection with ancient battles and warriors). The book also has entries for many lesser-known/local mythical creatures, a good example being the Great Horned Serpent (who was/is believed to help keep the waters of the Great Lakes calm). I like the fact that some entries also cross-over with others, for example: both Dragons and Elves have connections with Will-o'-the-wisps (where such lights were perceived as being gifts from them). I also like the fact that the book considers the mythical properties of animals that we live with today (such as Cats and Dogs). Overall: This is a book that I enjoy consulting - but can find it hard to put down! I think part of this is due to the paper that it's made from - it just feels somewhat magical (especially with its inviting/oldish smell). For the most part, this book is text-based, but that doesn't seem to matter - as I find images come easily (from my imagination). At almost seven hundred pages, it's quite good to pick a random page and put your feet up!