Buy “Narcissus In Chains” by Laurell K. Hamilton on Amazon, here.
This is the tenth book in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series. And it just so happens to be the first book I’ve read by Hamilton.
I don’t do book reviews unless the book made an impression; a really good one. After all, I’m an aspiring author; I read many books. Plus I just like reading. If I did a book review for every book that I liked, I’d never get any actual writing of my own done. Or do things like eat, sleep, or you know… bathe. So how do I decide which books to promote?
Simple. Was it an alright read, or did it do something for me personally, either as a reader, writer, or both? If it’s the latter, I’m more inclined to write about it. I have a simple rule of thumb that serves a great purpose in my crazy brain. If it stirs something emotional, something raw, or just plain needed in me, I’m not going to ignore it. That goes for more than books.
Okay, so I began in the middle of the series, as there are 21 books currently published. Honestly, I’m glad I started here. Those I know who’ve read this book series since the very beginning have told me what’s happened and I don’t think I could handle that much of the ‘Black and White Anita’. Also, I probably would have found a way to jump in the book and kill Richard myself, if I’d started with book one.
But any who…
A whole lot of crazy messed up psychos trying to kill Anita or someone she loves. Also, Anita has mental breakdown throughout and has to figure out how to deal with it… Right. That won’t work, will it? Well I swear that’s what happened through the entire book!
The book begins with Anita needing to rescue one of her were-leopards, Nathaniel, from a BDSM club, where he was left alone. There’s a new villain in town no one has heard of and he’s decided he doesn’t like Anita. He decided to attack some of her leopards to announce this. Go figure. I guess some of the bad guys have to be spineless, right?
Her vampiric lover, Jean-Claude is thrown in jail for murdering her… though she’s quite fine.
Richard goes postal and kidnaps and plans on murdering one of her were-leopards.
The new villain attacks continuously throughout…
And while all of this is happening, Anita must deal with a new side effect of her triumvirate with Jean-Claude and Richard. It goes against her morals and saying she struggles with it would be the understatement of the millennia.
By the time the end rolls around, you see how all of Laurell’s sub plots weave into each other to create one cluster **** of a situation.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who has an aversion to reading about moral dilemmas or killing. There’s a large reference to BDSM and sex in general, as well.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
I cannot stress enough how badly I wish his dying would not kill off Anita and Jean-Claude. Hypocrisy could take a lesson from this man. He spouts boy scout, naïve, idealistic morals and causes those around him to suffer due to this. Yet, if Anita hurts his little ego, he acts out childishly and selfishly, dragging Anita through the mud and spitting in her face. When he knows he’s in the wrong.
I could go on and on about why I don’t like Richard but it’d turn into a ridiculous eight thousand word essay. Besides, I’m not the greatest at articulating my reasoning and it’s been hard enough to make sense thus far. How about an example?
“I don’t want to love someone who is more at home with the monsters than I am.”
Richard says this to Anita after having sex with her and then biting her head off for feeding on him via the sex, even though he knew she was going to do so. She also has no control over this. He leaves her on the floor crying, storming out and announcing that he wants to be free of all the crap in his life.
Oh – and he hurt Nathaniel. I like Nathaniel.
- I don’t know what’s worse. Richard or the fact that Anita continues to accept him and his attitude. Even though she knows he’s getting a lot of innocent people hurt.
Anita and Richard are lovers. They don’t work. At all. Its naivety at its worst that causes Anita to have hope in their relationship and I thought I’d burst when she decided enough was enough.
“Richard was a riddle with no answer, and I was tired of playing a game I couldn’t win.”
Praise the Lord – Hallelujah! – And the choir said Amen.
I do believe that she’s already gone this route with Richard before, in prior books. Some readers say she continues to do so. This is a huge turn off for me. Women who cannot keep themselves from unhealthy relationships they KNOW are not good for anyone, I have a problem with.
WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT
Trusting my ever awesome sidekick Google, I found the goodreads page for Narcissus In Chains. I was surprised by what I found there. This book is apparently, in most people’s opinion, the book that either made or broke this series.
Those against it reason that it has too much sex and not enough plot. To that I say, did you notice she became a succubus or sorts, very much against her will? Yeah, that’s part of the plot.
They reason that it aired on bestiality. That’s disgusting and only happened when the villain forced it upon victims in previous books. It’s neither condoned nor practiced throughout the books as normal or acceptable. In Hamilton’s defense, villains are disgusting people with disturbing minds. If she wrote her villains as anything less, they wouldn’t be as realistic as they are.
They reason that the series is no longer interesting due to the focus not being solely on her hunting vampires as law enforcement. They don’t like that it’s taken on a split focus, including Anita’s personal life. To that I say, what? This is a novel. It’s about Anita Blake and her life. People are not unchanging robots in real life, who continue on in the same ways with the same focuses in life. Why would you want a book series to be that way?
To those who believe this book set the bar higher, I agree with you. I may not have read the previous books in this series, but I received the next best thing. Someone who told me EVERYTHING that happened within them as she read them. And I believe this book sets the bar very high indeed.
WHY I CARE ABOUT THIS BOOK
I read this book about three weeks ago. No, maybe four. Whatever. I don’t remember. What I do remember is how it made me feel and what it made me realize.
- AS A WRITER
I’d been working on one of my novels and run into a problem. This problem stemmed from my sugar coating the nastiness I didn’t think readers would want to read about. But without the horrible of humanity, how can the amazing feel so, well… amazing? It can’t.
A few chapters into this novel by Hamilton, I realized that I was sugar coating my own novel to a sickening level. I was compromising the truth, the emotions, the whole point of telling this story for the purpose of not grossing someone out. For the purpose of keeping everything sweet and uncontroversial. That’s not me. Reading Narcissus In Chains left me asking myself, what on earth was I thinking?!
Since then I’ve finished the rough draft and begun seriously rethinking the plot and where my characters are going. I’m much more pleased with where they are now and what decisions I’ve made. No more sugar coating for me. Who cares if what I write is controversial? Wasn’t it Bill Cosby that said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” I agree with him. No more.
This novel also made me think about genre. Grrr. I hate this subject. I’ll be doing a post on genre soon, as I’m having issues with that one. This novel was considered Fiction. That’s it, that’s all the spine gave me. Just ‘fiction’. Is it maybe because it has aspects of too many genres to simply peg down one? Probably. Good thought provoker though.
- AS A READER/HUMAN BEING
Anita Blake, psychotic executioner, has a stuffed penguin collection. This is just awesome and I had to include it. Moving on.
I love the issues Hamilton raises via Anita. I love how messed up Anita is. Her emotions; the emotions of this novel in general. I love reading about moral dilemmas and characters who are totally messed up in the head. Because it drags so many things out from beneath the rug, it confronts that pink elephant in the room. It makes you think, makes you feel. I eat it up. It’s only when everything goes to Hell in a hand basket that you see who people really are.
“I sat there for a few seconds not moving. I don’t even think I was breathing, then slowly the tears squeezed out, and my first breath was a ragged gasp that hurt my throat. I rolled slowly to the floor, lying in a tight, tight ball. I lay on the floor and cried until I was cold and shivering.
That’s how Nathaniel found me. He pulled the blanket from the bed and wrapped it around me, picked me up, and climbed onto the bed with me in his arms. He held me… until I fell asleep, exhausted with crying, skin hot.”
This is after Richard left Anita on the floor crying, following sex. Anita’s were-leopards crawled into bed and simply held her. Because they loved her, cared about her and knew she was hurt, in pain.
The emotions in this book are thick and real and I find myself wishing I had someone to love me the way they love each other. There is an honesty in their unembarrassed forward way of caring for each other that I love.
At the end of this book, Anita states that she no longer wants to change her nature.
Overall, I love this book. It’s thick and messy and strays from all that is normal and simple.
Hamilton is fearless in a way Anita never will be.
“Sticks and stones will break your bones, but failure will get you killed.”
For more about Laurell K. Hamilton and her books, you can find her website here. She also has a blog and Twitter account.