The first book I’ve read by Laurell K. Hamilton is not part of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series actually. The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series (from now on ABVH) was something a friend mentioned. Since I liked the other series – Merry Gentry, I went all out and got myself a box set with first four books of ABVH. The box set design was in the form of a small coffin (?) all black and with the top kinda sticking out of any bookshelf. I was in college back then and it was the middle of exam season. I went on a small reading spree -four books in four days! before I started my exam studying. Needless to say I was hooked!
The ABVH book series is a long standing one and is still going strong. It has 26 books up to date and the author is actively writing new ones each year. The first book Guilty Pleasures came out way back in 1993. which makes this book series old enough to drink in the US and is older than the age of the main character in the first book (Anita is 24 years old in the first book).
I vaguely remember running trough those books back then. I would read them at a book a day pace as soon as I got them. I’m not a fan of horror setting much but there was something about the main character that inspired confidence despite her many dark adventures. The world and the creatures in it appealed to me.
So when the adventures started to go further south and into supernatural relationship polyamourous exploring I did not mind that much. They were still the characters I liked reading about and I wanted to know more about them. By then the reactions of some readers were far from positive. Many were annoyed with how little the story progressed and how the main character was acting and developing. The sex scenes were handled badly in some books due to how explicit they are. Not many readers like to read books this erotic and even less readers can make a transition from so much smut and sex with big doses of supernatural creatures and all sorts of perverse topics and then switch to coherent mundane stories. At times even the author had trouble getting it done.
As the books of the series pilled up so did the many ideas to new merchandise and promotion. From never happening TV show deals to more creative and doable graphic novel editions by none other than Marvel Comics! These things often happen with long lasting book series. The graphic novel editions came out for the first three books and brought a new story of how Anita met Edward called Vampire Hunter: The First Death which was one of the fans favorite things to wonder about.
I have mixed feelings about the graphic novel editions since they changed the original artist from the first two editions and it makes the character sometimes look like they come form the old Egyptian wall murals with their eyes looking weird and plastic in general.
But I digress from the books…
There are many fans of the books who could not handle how this book series evolved into something completely different than it was back in the nineties when it first came out. The author used her books to speak about issues she holds important personally – relationship dynamics – and many readers don’t find it that interesting. Many more are offended by the sex scenes. And truth be told there are some books of the series that are just a few sex scenes put together and some relationship talk in between. For people who wanted more detective horror action from the first nine books way back these things seem off-putting and waste of time.
I’ve thought often on what holds me to this series for the sum of my adult life. I would always go back to the characters and creatures I enjoy reading about. Twenty six books in I am holding the pages and wondering all about the new strange creatures this books is bringing out. I still feel intrigued by the story and keep reading. I even think about rereading some of the books again just to make sure I understand the characters and how they were first imagined. Twenty six years is a lot of time for a book series to go on and there aren’t many out there this long. Only one’s that come close I can think of are manga book series that surpass it by the number of volumes but not even close to the number of years they can last.
The bad marketing puns like: The corpse laughs…but only after it kills! did not help…
I’ve made posts before on this book series and I will probably do them again sometime in the future. If you’re interested here is the Book covers around the world post I’ve made with some weird and interesting covers of the series. All things considered I’m actually happy with how the cover art style stood the test of time and managed to keep it somewhat composed in art and book design style.
I’m still wishing for the special omnibus editions that came out in limited quantity with covers made by Luis Royo over twenty years ago which I posted about in my Wishlist presentation exactly five years ago! There is one other book series by the same author I own and it’s Merry Gentry book series. I like collecting the short story compilations as well and I hope that some of the short stories that only came out in digital form will be someday available as a collection as well.
I’ve decided almost a decade ago that I’m all in with this book series. I want to see it trough. A sort of relationship I’ve committed myself to for better and for worse. As long as the author keeps writing I will be reading. After two decades here’s to two decades more!