Kiss the Dead: Redemption of the Anita Blake Series by Laurell K. Hamilton
June 10, 2012 | ~3 mins read time.

Cover of Kiss the DeadI knew I was going to read Kiss the Dead, but Laurel K. Hamilton's last full-length Anita Blake novel, Hit List, strayed so far from the things I liked about the series that I almost gave up on it altogether.  The last few books have been more about expanding Anita's menagerie of lovers and less about her being a vampire hunter and necromancer. These are the things that got me interested to begin with.

The books have always contained an element of romance and some steamy sex. With the addition of the ardeur, it was obvious it would become more important. I just never thought that, even with the ardeur, the novels would start looking more like erotica than fantasy.

I wanted Laurell K. Hamilton to get back to writing the monster hunting as the main plot with the metaphysical sex super-powers as the side-story. I had been looking forward to reading the serial killer hunt in the last book, Hit List. Instead, I got very little serial killer and too much magical magnet vagina, but I was far too invested in Anita's story thus far to give up on the series. Kiss the Dead has, thankfully, redeemed the series for me. {There be small spoilers beyond here, but nothing major to the plot.}

I cannot say how happy I am that Anita's menagerie didn't grow to include yet another person in this novel. Anita must feed the ardeur. Most of us who have read this series since the beginning understand what that is and that it's important for her to feed it or she could die. There's also a darker element to it now where she can feed on a person's anger which leaves her invigorated and the other person deflated. Apparently, the victim can get awfully forgetful if she goes too far with it, too.

In Kiss the Dead, Anita's involved in a case where a teenage girl goes missing and a group of vampires will go to extreme measures to make a point about not giving Jean-Claude a blood oath. It all goes awry when among the group are vampires that are children (a no-no) and vampires that were made when they were elderly.

It's never quite said who the instigator of the incident is. We get to meet the vampire's human servant, but we don't get to meet the vampire. We do learn, however, that he did not expect for the zealous group he inadvertently inspired to go after Anita's main group of "sweeties," either. This is pure speculation, but I suspect that it may be one of the former Harlequin or Vampire Council members.

It was so nice to get back to the meat of the story. The ardeur takes an interesting turn -- Anita almost kills one of her lovers with it. Apparently, Asher and Jean-Claude have kept a few things about the ardeur away from Anita; things they had half-forgotten and didn't seem all that important because of Anita's personality. I am once again looking forward to another Anita Blake Novel.

Oh, and for those of you that enjoy the sex, Anita has some hot full-on, substantial sex scenes with Nathaniel, Nicky, and Micah. She also has a dominance and submission moment with Asher until he goes too far and some of the others step in. The book is just less of a fuck-fest than it is a real story -- and I liked it.