Friday, January 2, 2009

The Lunatic Cafe

Title: The Lunatic Cafe
Author: Laurell Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake Vampire Hunter, Book 4
Genre: Urban fantasy, novel
Published: 1996

Recommendation: If you haven't read any Anita Blake books yet, start with Guilty Pleasures, for those reading the series, a fun continuation of the saga.
Rating: 7/10

Summary: Anita finds out that her shapeshifter boyfriend, Richard, is in the middle of a power struggle to become a pack leader. At the same time, she is given a case by Marcus, the current pack leader, to find 8 missing lycanthropes (shapeshifters). The assignment plunges her in the middle of lycanthrope politics and as usual there is also a murder investigation to help police with.

Reactions: This is the first book of the series that focuses more on lycanthropes than on vampires. We get a view of the lycanthrope society and some rather psychotic characters who are members of thereof. The mystery of missing lycanthropes gets tied up a little too quickly and neatly in this book, but there is still a surprising twist at the end.

The book also progresses with Anita's love story. Richard proposes to Anita and she says "Yes" and then pretty much immediately gets cold feet. Jean Claude finds out and insists that he will kill Richard unless Anita goes out on a dozen dates with him as well. One detail of this whole mess is that Anita is refusing to have sex until marriage. The reasoning given is that a boyfriend she slept with in college dumped her. Apparently, the man who will have sex with her first will irrevocably have her heart in this matter. This felt very out of character for Anita, who is quite modern in her views when it comes to everything else. I also felt that Jean-Claude complication was a little over the top and the ease with which Anita agreed to date both men at the same time was a big relationship fail on her part.

Speaking of modern views, I find Anita's relationship with religion fairly amusing. She is portrayed as a believer, because "An atheist waving a cross at a vampire was a truly pitiful sight." and she can use her cross to protect herself. However, she takes switching from being Catholic to Episcopalian pretty easily when all animators(zombie raisers) are excommunicated. It's mentioned that she goes to church on Sunday (except for the days where she is too busy killing something), but to me she feels completely atheistic especially when it comes to her views on relationships and killing.

Despite some characterization I disagree with, the book is a fun quick read with some new creatures introduced and insights into lycanthropes and I will be moving on to the next book in the series.

First Lines: It was two weeks before Christmas. A slow time of year for raising the dead.

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