Anita is having a nightmare about her ex-love-interest Haven, the werelion who we were supposed to utterly loathe even though he barely got any time onscreen or did anything. Allegedly he went berserk because he "wouldn't share" and wanted Anita all for himself. Ironic, since the alleged reason he was turned from Anita's new man-hunk into the spawn of Satan was because the guy he was based on allegedly rejected LKH.
So anyway, she's been having recurring nightmares about the death of this side character who was in maybe four scenes in the whole series, and who Anita didn't give a shit about when he was alive. Yeah, for some reason if you have sex with someone, you're immediately devastated by their death even if you hated their guts. Because emotional connections are based by whether you had contact with their penii.
Tonight's version was new, but after the other nightmares new didn't seem bad.
Sorry, I need to be excused for a minute. I'm having traumatic flashbacks to New Moon.
I was in a maze formed of black walls. They were slick and almost shiny, almost stone, almost mirrors, so that the ghost of myself wavered in the black surfaces.
- "Black" is not a substance, you dipshit. If it's rock, say so.
- And failing to describe something makes you look like an even worse writer than you are.
- Why not just say "obsidian"?
- And Anita can see her ghost? How does THAT happen?
Haven called me somewhere in the maze: "Anita, I'm coming, Anita."
That chilled my blood, because usually the men only say that when they're having sex with me.
Great, he was hunting me tonight. Sometimes turnabout is so not fair play.
I hated playing paintball with weres!
"I'm Anita Blake! I'm the Executioner! No one is tougher than AAAAAGGHHHH SAVE ME, MAGICAL DEUS EX MACHINA ASSPULL POWERS!"
I was dressed in jeans with a belt and buckle, T-shirt, jogging shoes, but no weapons. This just got better and better.
"I could only monologue about what clothes I was wearing in my dream, because people in dreams always notice their boring-ass clothes! But I didn't have any weapons to describe at length to show how tough I am! A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH! I need a gun or knife to show my badassery! Otherwise, I'm just a short clumsy woman with a huge mouth and a stretched-out vag."
"I can smell you, Anita. I can smell all that sweet skin."
"Now lend me your damn bodywash already!"
So Anita dreams up her favorite gun, but for some reason she doesn't do something like imagine a silver cage around Haven or a giant pit under his feet.
So Anita starts running away. Again, why not imagine a place that ISN'T a maze where you have a disadvantage?! Is it too much fucking work to think about a sunny field, or is that not gothy and creepy enough?
I started moving faster, taking left turns only. All mazes had the same premise: One direction would lead out and one would lead to the center of the maze.
... okay, except that that is dependent on there actually being a way out of the maze. It's also assuming that there's only one entrance/exit, and that there's actually a center to the maze. Which there sometimes isn't.
Also, sometimes there IS no entrance/exit. If it's a sealed maze like they use for mice, then you're fucked no matter which way you go because you will eventually go right back where you started.
But it was a nightmare, and you never really win in nightmares. No, they're all about losing over and over again.
- ... so why even bother using a real-life strategy for getting out?
- And for that matter, why assume that it won't CHANGE to keep you inside?
- Also, THIS IS A FUCKING DREAM. If she can dream up a gun, why not a giant blinking exit?! Why not a steamroller? WHY NOT A SPACE SHUTTLE?!
- You can't establish that Anita can change whatever she wants about this dream and then have her treat this like real life!
So of course Anita shows up at the center of the maze, which is a sort of weird modernist fountain. Well, that was totally unscary.
Worse was six feet and a little more of slender, muscled handsome.
Oh shitcakes. She gave another silly name to a pretty shemale.
No, of course it's Haven. It's not his ghost or anything cool like that, it's just a chance for LKH to ogle the alter ego of the guy who rejected her, in a futile attempt to convince us that Anita gave a shit about Haven. Which she pretty clearly didn't.
The hair and the Sesame Street tattoos on his shoulders were what had made me nickname him "Cookie Monster."
That, and LKH's deep love for ridiculous and sometimes demeaningly silly names.
"What do you want, Haven?"
"What I always wanted:"
"My Pokemon cards?"
"you," he said.
It was a close second.
"You can't have me."
"Why not? Everybody else has had you."
"No, they haven't! I'm chaste and virginal!"
"You fucked the mailman the other day, for crying out loud."
"The ardeur needed feeding, and Nathaniel and Micah were at Costco!"
"You're not exactly disproving what I said."
"... your momma wears leather miniskirts!"
"So do you."
"... OH YEAH?"
"Here I can. Here there's just me."
Pass me a vat of boiling oil. It can't be any more painful than LKH's witty dialogue.
"You're dead. You're dead. I killed you."
"Just the way LKH killed this series, except that took several books instead of one page."
"You're just my guilt visiting every night."
And yet after this Anita's guilt, Haven and dreams are never. Mentioned. Again.
So then a bunch of people with black cloaks and white masks turn up, and Haven turns into one of them. You know, there are people like Jim Butcher who can make people in a modern American city swishing around in long dark cloaks seem even vaguely menacing. But LKH is neither genre-savvy nor humorous enough to make it work. She wants us to take these Completely For Serious, Guys.
Yeah, sort of like that... except that would be infinitely more badass than the Harlequin.
I raised the gun and pointed it vaguely; there were too many of them, and I wasn't that fast, not even in dreams.
"Oh no, I'm surrounded by a bunch of enemies I can't sex into submission. If only I weren't a short clumsy woman with no actual talents."
"We're coming," he said, "wake up."
"Wait! I haven't even taken my sexy jammies off yet! You can't start without my wet tightness!"
"... the OTHER kind of coming."
So Anita wakes up, and someone is rubbing something against the door. Not opening it, just sort of touching it. It's sort of like gay sex in this series.
And in case you're wondering... you know that whole subplot where Anita was supposedly wracked with guilt over killing Haven a month ago? Well, forget about it. Haven is not mentioned even ONCE for the rest of the book. I guess Anita's guilt runs as deep as her "love." Just wave something shiny in front of her.
I drew my gun from underneath the pillow and tried to think how to warn Laila without them hearing me. They were either vampires or wereanimals; they'd hear any whisper.
So pretend you're going to the bathroom and turn on the water. Besides, they're coming in anyway, so it doesn't really matter, does it? Or does she think that they're going to sit outside stroking the damn door all night?
Then I realized they'd heard the change in my heartbeat; they knew I was awake.
Remind me again why she's ever able to kill them? These guys have more superpowers than Superman.
There was no one in the doorway. It stretched pale and empty, filled with night and the artificial lights of the parking lot beyond. Then I heard it, a creak of board, and knew something was crawling on the floor, hidden from me by Laila's bed.
Think about what that means. They opened the door... and belly-crawled into the room. In a giant all-covering cloak.
Now imagine that kitty is wearing a Nazgul cloak. That is possibly the least cool entrance in human history. And the least frightening. I can imagine that dude crawling up into his own cloak, getting tangled up, and rolling around going "Ugh, ugh... dammit, I got snagged on a safety pin... oof!"
Yeah, it would have been way cooler if the guy had just drifted in, like he was thinking, "Yeah, I'm the most badass of all vampires/weres. I don't give a shit if you're aiming a gun at me, because I'm so tough you can't hurt me." Or maybe if Anita woke up and it was already in the room. Instead he belly-crawls like a snake in a sock.
She had her gun in her hand now, and whispered, "What is it? Why is the door open?"
"And why are my panties missing?"
So then the Harlequin leaps on Karlton and drags her off the bed. YAY! Something might actually happen in this damn chapter.
Anita claims that all I saw was the cloak like a black sheet, and this sentence reminds me again why LKH is the greatest poet of our times. A black cloak was like another piece of black cloth that wasn't a black cloak. Anita is amazed by how incredibly fast the Harlequin is, insisting that, Fuck, that couldn't be real. Had it mind-fucked me? Because in a series where vampires can easily move faster than the eye can see, even fast enough to cause a SONIC BOOM, Anita is spooked by the fact that someone moves slightly faster than normal!
"Yell for help and we kill her," a voice said on the other side of the bed.
"Big deal. She's a heterosexual woman, and she hasn't pledged allegiance to me."
"... uh, okay... um... we didn't plan for this. Shit, let me call my boss."
It was male and growly; I was betting shapeshifter of some kind.
... because apparently vampires can't have growly voices. Even if Batman became a vampire...
"How do I know she's still alive?"
"Do you think I could kill her that quickly?" the voice asked.
"Yes," I said.
... oh man, it's happening again. The first part of this was Anita talking with Dream Haven, and now she's talking to a random henchman. This is a fifth chapter of two people sitting there talking to each other. EVEN HER ACTION SCENES ARE BORING AS HELL.
So the were hurts Laila a little, while Anita woodenly commands him to leave her alone. Anita sounds less passionate about rescuing an innocent officer than she did when she was shoving her tits at the waiter. I'm surprised she doesn't fall asleep in mid-conversation.
"Oh, I'm sad that you think I haven't hurt you yet. The next thing I do to you, you won't doubt that you're hurt."
"... have I mentioned what a villain I am? Because I'm sadistic, and my ego is so fragile that I get pissed if people don't sound hurt enough! I'll show ALL OF YOU! DON'T YOU UNDERESTIMATE MEEEEEE!"
"Leave her alone."
"We will if you give us what we want."
"Now hand over your life-sized anatomically-correct Legolas doll, or I'll rip her head off."
"NEVER! Go ahead and rip off her head!"
So what does the were want? Well, nothing even slightly interesting. Just what every single person in the series wants: "You." I hate this series. Nobody ever is ever just noncommittal about Anita, or doesn't give a crap about her. All the bad guys are obsessed with her, and all the good guys worship her bulbous ass.
"What do you mean, you want me? How? Why?"
I'm asking that exact question. Especially the last word.
Also... can ANYONE in this fucking book have a conversation without asking for hundreds of clarifications? Do I have to choke a bitch?!
"Does it matter? If you don't come with us, I'll kill your friend."
"She's not my friend, dude. I barely know her."
"Remind me why you're the hero again?"
"Because I'm the author's self-insert. I could murder a whole city of babies, kittens and puppies, and I would still be considered a saint."
"... oh, okay."
So the guy keeps hurting Laila, and of course since he's a villain, he's also a sadist. By the way, his sadistic love for inflicting pain on helpless people evaporates at the end of the book, when he becomes another tormented woobie who wants to join Anita's ridiculously huge harem.
"Laila, are you hurt?"
Her voice was shaky. "Yes."
"He pulled off one of my hangnails."
"What did you do to her?"
"Nothing permanent, yet," he said.
"She'll heal?" I asked,
YES, FOR THE LOVE OF FUCKERY. That is what he meant! Why does this dumb bitch need EVERYTHING spelled out for her?!
and as in the dream I pointed my gun toward the voice, but also at the open door.
Ah yes, she has one of those guns with the two barrels at 90 degree angles. THE HELL?
Most of the Harlequin traveled in pairs or more.
... and guess what! This one doesn't! Because if they DID, Anita would be toast. Which is the reason they don't send like, fifteen of these guys to subdue and drag her away.
"What do you mean you want me? Sexually?" I was almost hopeful on that one;
Of course she is. Anita's like that character in American Gods whose vagina eats people.
And I love how she automatically assumes that he wants to have sex with her. I mean, he couldn't mean he wants to KILL her. Or that he wants her body for the MOAD, which she's known about for several books. Her first thought is that he wants to fuck her.
Just once I'd like a were or vampire to go, "Ew! No way! If I want that, I can just hire a whore."
it wasn't a fate worse than death
I suspect that if she dings a car, Anita offers to fuck the owner. If they're a were or vampire, that is.
"We're not allowed," he said, and he sounded sad.
Of course he does. In LKH's fantasy world, every man in the world desperately wants to fuck her and is a lost lonely lamb if they can't. And if they don't, she'll rape them or kill them.
"You're not allowed to have sex?"
"Because if so, I can totally claim you as my own and give you all the sex you want! With me only, of course! Because only the evillest of the evil would forbid SEX!"
"Just not with you."
That was interesting.
... what, this is a SURPRISE? Given that any man who fucks Anita is immediately brainwashed into her harem (except Haven and Richard, since they are based on real men LKH is perpetually pissed at), I would think that would be the FIRST thing the baddies would tell their minions.
"Okay, now that we've established the health insurance plan.... hmm.... okay, next on the agenda is Anita Blake. I think everyone knows about this hosebeast. Not only is she a total slut, but she has a magical vagina that will enslave your mind and soul. So sex with her is forbidden."
"But sir.... we've heard she's actually... wet and tight!"
"Nobody else in the world IS, sir!"
"They also say she can handle the freakishly huge penises that every one of us happens to have, sir!"
"SHUT UP. Did you not hear the 'enslave' part of what I said? You'll end up a pouting mindless prettyboy in her enormous harem."
"But sir, they also say she... LOVES every one of her 523 lovers individually!"
"Dibbs, she fucked her wereotter mailman the other day while two of her boyfriends were at Costco. Do you REALLY think she loves the mailman? Now NO SEX WITH HER, EVER."
Seriously, who in their right mind would think the bad guys would be okay with having their minions go off and fuck Anita? LADY, YOU ARE DUMB AS TOAST.
"My master is outside. Simply put down your weapon and walk out the door to him. I will release the girl and follow you."
"And then we will explain why you should accept the Lord Jesus as your personal savior."
So then the evil were who will later be redeemed because he wants to fuck Anita (seriously, that is the ONLY reason) injured Karlton, and she screams. Anita isn't really worried, because the scream will alert the other marshals who will come help them. She doesn't react in any other way. Fer serius. OUR FUCKING HERO.
Edward shouted, "Anita!"
"I heard earsplitting screaming. Are you having sex with Karlton, or did some new guy wander in?"
So Karlton's arm is broken and she's been poked by lycanthropic claws, Edward comes charging in semi-nude even though he KNEW this could have happened, and Anita still doesn't act like this is any big deal.
"I'll call for an ambulance, and then will someone tell me what the hell just happened?"
No, they won't. It's their thing. You could have been impaled by a harpoon and bleeding out your lifeblood, and they would NOT tell you where the harpoon came from.
And if you weren't already convinced that our "heroes" are all assholes, Edward announces, "Her warrant is vacated. I guess we have our warrant of execution." Oh really? Well, why do you assume THAT, since there are other marshals who are far more likely to get assigned the warrant? Or are you just THAT arrogant?
"I didn't want it this way," I said.
"I just decided to room with an innocent woman who just happened to have the warrant I wanted, when I knew that the Harlequin could show up at any moment to attack me. I didn't want her to get HURT."
Seriously, stop playing innocent, you evil slutbaggy bag of evil slut. You KNEW you were endangering her with your very presence, but you didn't ask her to swap rooms with Edward OR warn her of the impending danger so she could be prepared. So yeah, you totally threw her under the bus so you could get her warrant.
"She's alive, Anita. It could have gone the other way."
He was right. I knew he was right, so why did I feel so shitty?
... because you ARE shitty? Because this whole situation was totally avoidable, but you didn't avoid it because you wouldn't get your way if you kept her safe?
So Anita babbles about how Karlton is going to bleed to death if they don't apply hokey first aid, even though we later find out that her injuries aren't actually that bad. I guess LKH needed a contrived way of making Anita look like she CARES. Edward doesn't really give a shit because now he'll be able to go brutally kill things.
"We can hunt them now, Anita, our way."
"And I'm practically jizzing in my pants with joy!"
So it turns out that.... musical sting, the guy CLAWED her!
"It's multiple wounds, which means it wasn't a blade. He used claws."
Wow! A SHAPESHIFTER using his CLAWS! Whoever thought of such a strange thing?
Srsly, WHY would you assume a werethingy would use a blade when he could use CLAWS?!
"Powerful enough shapeshifter to change just his hands," Edward said.
"They're all going to be that powerful," he said.
"This is a surprise to us."
"Because we're stupid."
"Because it's not like we would KNOW that the Harlequin would have some of the most powerful shifters in the WORLD."
So they have a boring as-you-know-Bob discussion about how deep injuries mean a higher chance of catching lycanthropy. Again, it's obvious LKH doesn't give a shit and is just trying to get this scene over with, because neither medical care nor non-Anita women interest her.
"What's our way?" I asked.
"Oh good, our way. Thank you Vizzini. Which one's our way?"
"What?" he asked.
STOP FUCKING SAYING "Who? Where? Why? How? What?" I'M FUCKING SICK OF IT!
"You said we'd be able to hunt them our way now. What's our way?"
"... because after twenty books of allegedly being a bigger badass than Dirty Harry, I'm totally clueless about how I roll. It's almost like I've spent the last ten books just fucking, whining and pulling powers out of my ass."
So Edward practically masturbates at the idea of catching and killing the Harlequin, while Anita sits on the floor making doe eyes and being confused. I guess this isn't too surprising. I mean Edward is supposed to be Uber-Assassin who is always seeking the ultimate challenge, but the way he's drooling makes him sound far less cool than he's supposed to be. As for Anita, she has the brains of a manure pile and she hasn't done any actual "marshaling" since.... I think it's been ELEVEN books.
"How do we kill that speed?"
"Wound it, then chop it up." He sounded eager.
LKH, stop. You are making Edward sound like a Darwin Award. "Oh look, creatures that move faster than the eye can follow, and which are very happy to rip us apart with their insta-claws. All we have to do is wound them!"
"I'm scared, Edward."
A logical response. It is also completely out of sync with Anita's behavior in the last several books. I guess she also experiences fear ONLY when she doesn't have a dozen boytoys hanging off her like plush hanging movies.
He looked at me, his eyes empty and cold as a winter's moon. "I'm not."
"In case you haven't noticed, I am practically creaming my pants!"
I guess he meant it to be comforting, and I guess maybe it was.
I guess that was totally unconvincing, and I guess this is bad writing.