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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Four

"The club was over the river on the Illinois side, along with most of the other questionable clubs."

So a little known fact about me is that I am absolute shit with geography, and I am certainly not in the know about St. Louis in general. However, I have learned that it is the ninth most segregated city in the U.S. So I have a sneaking suspicion that LKH is talking about the scaaaaary black neighborhood here. If anyone can confirm this, please let me know.

There are some resonances regarding minority discrimination as well; Anita tells us that if the people in power don't want a vampire or shifter club in their area, they will manipulate the law in order to force these businesses out over archaic zoning guidelines. This could be very interesting in the hands of someone else. Since it is LKH, to say I am worried about where this is going is an understatement.

Some irritating stuff about finding parking, and how a normal woman would be oh so scared to walk in this area alone at night but Anita isn't because as usual she's packing a ridiculous arsenal. I am not sure why Anita needs to be in opposition to the 'average' woman in order to be an effective character, but I am willing to overlook a certain amount of this if only because again, I feel the main character of an urban fantasy almost needs to experience Othering to be effective.

However, I question why this Othering has to come at the expense of typical feminine expectations and gender performance. Being feminine is not a bad thing. Enjoying makeup and skirts and socializing in clubs and whatever else are perfectly acceptable things to enjoy. I think I would find this more effective if it were shown that Anita is different from the mainstream human, as opposed to being different (and somehow better) than the average cis woman.

Speaking of Anita's arsenal: "A gun doesn't cure all ills, but it's a start. I also had a knife sheath around each calf, very high up, so that the hilts came up on the sides of my knees." How in the hell she is going to draw those when she has a skirt on, I don't know. Also I'd think every time you took a step, the handles would push forward and distort the line of her clothing. Not very subtle. 

Okay so apparently Anita does know some hand to hand, including Judo and Kenpo. So again I question this almost pathological reliance on guns and knives.

Oh my god, fuck you Anita. Why? Check out this gem: "Of course, I don't usually walk around looking like bait." WALKING AROUND IN A SHORT SKIRT IS ASKING FOR IT, YOU GUYS. 

Now, I should say that I don't think main characters need to be or even should be perfect. Oftentimes they're carrying around the same baggage we are in terms of sexism, racism etc. Hell, one of my MCs thinks appearance/behavior on the part of the victim and sexual assault are linked, because that's what his own ongoing sexual assault has taught him. Once you've had someone you should be able to trust tell you repeatedly that you were asking for it, well, you're going to start to believe it. But why does Anita buy in to this? Do they not have sensitivity training at her job? They sure as hell should since they're often dealing with those who are grieving and fragile. As far as I know she hasn't undergone any personal experiences that would instill this notion in her, aside from being raised in a society with a thriving rape culture. It bothers me that someone still holding on to this attitude is in charge of people like Nate, who need to internalize the notion that they weren't asking for it, that no matter what they were wearing, or doing, they didn't deserve their assault(s). 

She goes on about her clothes too much. She gets in to explaining how magical shielding works in her world, which is perfectly fine. But then she says, "Talking about shielding always made me feel like I was having a psychotic break and sharing my delusions." I can relate. This is how I feel whenever I talk about polytheism and that, yes, I do believe in the gods as real beings and not just thought forms. But I don't understand why Anita has this hang up in a world where magic has always been present. Shouldn't it be as unremarkable as any discipline? Math, science, magic? More inconsistencies in world building. Either magic and supernatural beings have always been present, or they haven't. 

"It had only been in the last two weeks that Marianne had discovered that I hadn't really understood shielding at all. I'd just thought it was a matter of how powerful your aura was and how you could reinforce it. She said the only reason I'd been able to get by with that for as long as I had was that I was simply that powerful." 

Again I am being told that Anita is massively powerful, but I have yet to see anything that justifies such an assertion. 

The walk to the club is two blocks but this is at least six blocks worth of thinking. 

Jason turns up in a ridiculous club outfit. This is one of the things that I think could be really awesome. Go for a dark, twisted world, one that's overtly sexual and almost cartoonish. You could even justify the crazy penis sizes that way. Distort the surroundings, the people. But instead this book hovers between wanting to take itself seriously and wanting to go overboard, and we're left with something fairly bland and silly as a result.

Anyway, Jason is one of Jean-Claude's werewolf servants, otherwise known as an animal to call. This by the way is one of my favorite ideas in the AB world. Of course it's underutilized and often the abuses done to these wereanimals is hand waved and ignored. Wait till I get to Harlequin. I am going to have some shit to say then. 

We go through Jason's outfit for a couple of pages. The text reminds me that at this point Anita is supposed to be lupa, werewolf queen, and that buggering off left the entire werewolf population of St. Louis at loose ends. Oh Anita, you're such a wonderful, powerful, dominant leader. Not. 

Jason exists to get Anita in to the club so she doesn't have to wait in line. Not a good way to stay inconspicuous considering Jason is dressed in an outfit about as subtle as a disco ball. That, and she's going to irritate everyone in line by cutting ahead, ensuring that some people are now going to remember the thoughtless bitch who got a personal escort inside. 

Anita tells us over and over that Jason is wearing a tiny little thong and she can see the outline of his balls and ass. Woop de doo. It's a fetish club. People are showing off. This is not news. 

"The music hit me at the door like a giant's slap." We've already had a variation on this theme what with J.C.'s voice being a "velvet slap." Vary your analogies, lady! 

"I hadn't expected Narcissus in Chains to be a dance club." Why not? My local bondage club has several dance nights. ..."it looked like a lot of other clubs." Well yes. What were you expecting? 

LKH wants the club to be like this:

But really it's like this:

Blah blah Jason takes Anita to J.C., who is standing off to the side watching people dance. J.C. is wearing another one of those "poured on" outfits. I don't know why Anita and LKH both seem so obsessed with androgyny, only to assure me in the same paragraph of J.C.'s masculinity. Is this like nineteenth century novels where the heroine could only have grand adventurers if she married someone at the end? DON'T WORRY GUYS, WE ALMOST HAD A NON-BINARY STANDARD OF BEAUTY BUT REALLY IT'S CIS MASCULINE. GLAD WE CLEARED THAT UP. 

"The first time I saw the blue-green roil of the Caribbean, I cried, because it was so beautiful. Jean-Claude made me feel like that, like I should weep at his beauty." I actually like this, though I question the word roil here. I thought that meant whipping the water up so that all the grit and mud darkened it, and I've always imagined the Caribbean as quite clear. 

I like this too: "It was like being offered an original da Vinci, not just to hang on your wall and admire, but to roll around on top of." I think that does a good job of conveying how decadent Jean-Claude is, how being around him feels somehow outside the bounds of what's normal, but in a pleasurable, forbidden way. 

I don't want to be too nitpicky but I can't figure out how JC's eyelashes are supposed to be like lace. Lace has patterns in it. 

Narcissus makes an appearance as Anita and J.C. stand around staring at each other. Narcissus self-describes as a hermaphrodite and is physically intersex. He uses male pronouns. Yay! Except, he's dressed in a way that makes me oddly uneasy. He's wearing a dress and a ton of makeup, spike heels and lace stockings. It's not that I protest his gender presentation--that would be pretty damn weird coming from me--it's just that I question LKH's need to feminize him. Since LKH seems to have a very serious vendetta against traditional femininity I can't help but think that dressing him up like this is part of that agenda. 

Anita is desperately confused by Narcissus' gender presentation and consequently doesn't know how to treat him. This does happen in real life so I'm not going to jump all over her for it. There are some good things about Narcissus. He's an alpha, and secure in himself and in his gender performance. I think it's kind of funny that Narcissus has a bunch of hunky male hyenas around that flex for him on command. You do you, honey. Who wouldn't. 

One thing I do NOT get about werehyenas is that they've modeled themselves on Greek myth. Because of the hermaphrodite story? That seems like an odd thing to base your society on. It's quite possible that Narcissus has just decided to order his hyenas in such a way, which if that's the case tells me he lives up to his name. 

Anita says, "Greek myths, nice naming convention." Apparently this is supposed to be funny somehow. The attempts at humor in these books never really seem to grow legs. It's usually Anita saying some random nonsense and then being confused about why people don't laugh. 

Anita is wearing Oscar de la Renta perfume, which Narcissus can smell quite clearly. He also smells Anita's gun. I find it very weird that Anita is wearing that type of perfume given her general contempt for anything even the slightest bit womanly, but I don't know, maybe J.C. gave it to her or something. Narcissus tells her she can't have her gun in a neutral space (which is what the club is) and surprisingly she hands the gun over.

BUT we need to have more ridiculous Anita is a sociopath stuff when Narcissus tells her whether or not she's happy about surrendering her weapon is not his problem: "I met his eyes and felt my face slip into that look that could make a good cop flinch--my monster peeking out." Good lord this is insufferable. Being the equivalent to a dangerous criminal or a dirty cop is a bad thing. I can't believe I have to keep saying this. Dirty cops are disgusting. They are perverting the role of a service professional, and there are few things I find less defensible than that. If you're going in to a field that is supposed to help people and you abuse your power within that field, you have zero integrity and your worth as a person is in serious jeopardy. Taking advantage of people in a power differential situation where they are in a position of relative powerlessness to you is sick. Anita, you are sick, and again it's pathetic and gross instead of making you cool. I hate this so much.

"I nodded, but I said, if my people get hurt because I don't have my gun, I can make it your problem." It's hard for me to come up with another main character as completely unpleasant as Anita is. I was once assaulted by a woman who had a very similar attitude. She was hands down the most aggressive person I have ever met, and nasty to boot. That is what Anita reminds me of. I can completely see Anita being willing to spit on me while throwing punches. She doesn't like or enjoy anything. She's overly reliant on violence to solve all of her problems. She views diplomacy as a weakness instead of a skill. Of course main characters can be difficult to like and still be effective, but there's nothing about Anita that a reader can feel sympathetic towards. Even anti-heroes usually have something that humanizes them. 

Also once again I have to harp on the fact that guns do not solve problems. Oftentimes, they create problems. Anita also has magic, knives, and martial arts training to rely on. Why antagonize Narcissus about this? She knew going in that his club was a neutral space, and that she wasn't going to get special treatment. Sigh. She follows up this initial insult by saying, "Personally I think neutral is just another way of saving your own ass at the expense of someone else's." What? The hyenas aren't saving their own asses per se by setting up a neutral night club. Certainly it might mean they have to fight less and have fewer enemies, but mostly they saw a niche and filled it. A society like this needs neutral ground to function. I am a firm believer that sometimes people do need to take sides, but it's not weird for a place as conflict heavy as supernatural St. Louis to need a gathering place where they won't have to get in to a dominance battle or fend off being turned by vampires. 

Narcissus is a creep and there's a lot of shifter-y magic going on between him and Anita. At this point I think Anita has a couple of beasts inside her--that's what she said--but she isn't a shifter. I also really like this concept. Unfortunately I feel like it never goes anywhere because Anita never shifts and very little comes of this metaphysical zoo beyond giving her a grab bag of convenient power. 

Narcissus wins most reasonable character award with this: "If you cannot protect your people without guns, then you should step down as their Nimir-Ra and let someone else do the job." 

Now I see why people love these reaction gifs.

Again, I think NiC might be the best Anita Blake book, not the worst. The flashes of insight are shocking, considering how utterly awful she is by the time Harlequin rolls around. She admits she doesn't have the power to be Nimir-Ra (presumably partly because she can't shift). Of course I've read this book before and I know this is here just to set up Micah being introduced, so my excitement is dulled slightly. 

Anita and Narcissus have a snippy little argument about how shifters are so species conscious they won't help each other, which again I don't get. A lot of these animals would never interact in the wild and have no reason to be biased against each other. They're also partly human, with a human's ability to reason and make long term plans. Why wouldn't they ally themselves with other groups if it would do them good to do so? One thing I don't like about this series is how everyone acts the same. If you're a shifter, no matter what type, you conform to a certain set of beliefs and expectations. So a werehyena and a wereswan have very similar ways of organizing themselves, despite having literally nothing else in common. It gives the text a very D&D feel, which in my mind is not a good thing.

"I couldn't arm wrestle them, and I would lose a fair fight. The gun was my equalizer." Another really great reason to learn shifter politics and diplomacy. Also a fight between a human and a shifter is inherently an unfair fight, and I don't see how a gun is going to truly help against a creature that can react in mere seconds. They have instincts Anita doesn't, gun or no gun. 

She goes on about how Nathaniel has no boundaries and won't protect himself even in the face of death. Elizabeth (another wereleopard, as yet sight unseen) is terrible! evil! bad! because she abandoned Nathaniel in this highly charged sexual environment. Which is true. BUT why did Anita pick Elizabeth to do this incredibly important job when Elizabeth has a history of defying her? That forces me to put another checkmark in the Anita is too stupid to live column. Elizabeth is an asshole, but Anita is a shit leader. She's responsible in some part for what Elizabeth does. 

Blah blah blah Anita hates being Nimir-Ra and hates having to go out of her way for anyone else. Is this world so cynical and is she so jaded that she can legit think about her dependents being horribly tortured and not do much more than shrug? "I hated the fact that I didn't care whether I killed [Elizabeth] her." Ugh. Look, Anita. You work in a dangerous field and you're a human among shapeshifters. Sometimes, you're going to have to kill people. That doesn't require you to give up your humanity to this extreme. 

Narcissus has to comment on how little Anita is wearing, and how it must be hard to carry a gun under that. WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ANITA'S ITTY BITTY SHIRT? Narcissus says "now enter and enjoy the delights, and the terrors, of my world." Anita refers to this as cryptic. How is that cryptic? He runs a fucking BDSM club. His entire business revolves around delights and terrors. 

Anita mentions giving up her gun, them taking her gun, them them walking off with the gun like a million times. It's like the gun is a baby blanket or a stuffed animal. Ick. I'm also not sure why you can have knives but not guns. 

J.C. suggests that he and Anita close the mark before Anita goes to rescue "her cats." I get that she's their leader but this sounds horribly objectifying to me. In true personality disorder fashion, Anita views the leopards as objects to possess, trade, or destroy as she sees fit. She asks why they ought to do that and again I am confused because I thought they already covered this on the phone. He takes her to a table and I boggle because well, if you were being tortured would you want it to go on for one more minute than strictly necessary? I am guessing no, yet Anita insists on dragging this rescue out for PAGES and PAGES.

Anita finds bondage disturbing, tee hee.

J.C. explains that once the "marks are married" Anita will acquire yet more powers, like being able to sense all the vampires under J.C.'s control. What is the deal with giving Anita all of these powers if she never uses them effectively? More nattering about shielding. OMG RESCUE YOUR FUCKING LEOPARDS, YOU HEARTLESS SOCIOPATH.

J.C. acts like a reasonable person and informs Anita that the deal with the marks will probably turn sexual. Good job, J.C. Trying to treat her in keeping with informed consent is surprisingly evolved of you. Anita finally realizes maybe she should be thinking about her leopards and tells him she doesn't have time to bump uglies. "If you want to do this afterwards, that's fine with me, but the leopards are the priority." You goddamn liar. Its been hours since you got the first phone call and you're still trotting around in your oh so short skirt and tittering about how you fit guns under your shirt and blah blah J.C. This forces me to conclude that Anita doesn't want to have sex and is using the leopards as a convenient way to get out of it, rather than behaving like an adult and just saying that she doesn't want to.

This book is actively killing my brain cells. J.C. explains to her for what? the third time? The fourth time? That it's important to marry the marks and strengthen her aura before she goes to confront a largely unknown enemy. Then she says, "Will this marriage of the marks give me more...abilities?" YES. WE HAVE ALREADY COVERED THIS. She should really see a doctor, because I suspect this short term memory loss is related to all those blows to the head. This just tells me that LKH turns in her first drafts.

"You are like no power to come before you." This is more or less a requirement for protagonists in supernatural worlds, but why? Why Anita? Why is she so special? What makes her different and how? I don't think this has ever been even remotely answered. There's some nattering about how old school necromancers sometimes had extraordinary powers but that's it.

Anita wants to go somewhere more romantic than the dance floor. J.C. tells her she picked the setting, so deal with it. Except she didn't. She just came to where her leopards were being held.

Oh hey, here's Asher randomly. He's J.C.'s former lover and later there will be some truly offensive bullshit about how J.C. and Asher aren't allowed to fuck without Anita there. They used to be part of a triad with a woman named Julianna, who was burned as a witch. This makes me wonder if the movie Underworld was already out at this point. Her awful double standard 'polyamory' will rear its ugly head later. Suffice to say, I hate it.


J.C. might be a creep but he's more reasonable than Anita. He and Narcissus did some planning so that the marks thing wouldn't intrude on the planned bondage shows for the night. This indeed would be a huge faux pas in the BDSM world; BDSM is in essence about power exchange, and having one power exchange take away from another could easily be perceived as quite rude. Yet Anita treats J.C. as if he's being unreasonable and manipulative. Well, he is manipulative, but the guy is the Master of St. Louis. Being manipulative is part of the job, unless J.C. feels like getting staked immediately.

"I don't mean to rush you," Asher said, "but you will use up your time in talking if you are not quick about it."

Clearly this is a point in the series where earth logic is still creeping in despite Anita's every attempt to ignore it.

J.C. asks Anita to drop her shields. Anita doesn't want to. What the hell did Anita think marrying the marks would require? Obviously if you have holes in your aura that need to be, ahem, plugged, you have to open up. In order to um, introduce the plug. To your hole.


J.C. keeps having to explain things to Anita like she's six years old. Now, I am not sure how Anita acquired these marks in the first place so I can't really comment on the consent or lack thereof in this scene. I think she has a right to be frightened, and she doesn't have to want this, but she can't go back. She can't unmake her decisions thus far. Sometimes we have choices, but none of them are good. That's how life works, fair or not.


So big question. If she doesn't want to be with J.C. and doesn't want the marks, why doesn't she kill him? She's already established she can kill him despite her feelings. Dare I say, why doesn't she execute him? Or is she the Have a Pleasant Cup of Tea-er instead?

She tries to get away from J.C. She obviously does not want him touch her. Asher holds her in place. ALL OF THESE PEOPLE ARE TERRIBLE. Now, Anita has consented to this as much as she's able and sometimes fear is not a deal breaker, especially in BDSM. That said, I don't think her and J.C. have a safeword which would be really fucking useful right about now.

"I knew with a sudden clarity that it wasn't his power or lust that had called his eyes, it was mine. He could feel how my body tightened, moistened, as he moved towards me. It wasn't him I didn't trust. It was me." 

This reads as though Anita inherently mistrusts her sexuality. Why would this be so? As far as I know, she's never been assaulted, she's never had to come out in an LGBT-phobic society, she's never been singled out and punished for her gender or femininity beyond what the average woman endures, plus she's surrounded by sycophants at all times who constantly tell her how beautiful and hot she is. Where is this attitude coming from? I think this must play in to LKH's notion that Anita can't be good if she wants sex. It also puts the blame on Anita, as if J.C. isn't capable of hurting her and she's just being unreasonable. It reminds me of Twilight in the sense that Bella is also a hideous woman-child who can't be trusted with her own desires, such that Edward needs to withhold sex in order to keep her pure.

Anita falls down in her efforts to get away from J.C., only to have Randomly Arriving Richard pick her up off of her feet.

WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED. You know, I had this idea that I would do a Harmful Idea count for each chapter, but I don't think I can even count them all.


  1. I should have picked up more on the Narcissus stuff - I was just enjoying the idea of someone with a fluid gender identity who was not being shat on that I just thought his ethos of wearing whatever the fuck he likes was pretty cool for an LKH book. But yes, there is more of LKH's weird ideas on femininity.

    Anita got most of the marks through JC being a twatwaffle. He is, and always shall be, le grande twatwaffle-e to me.

    1. I seem to recall that she got the first mark without realizing it, so she couldn't very well consent to it. Then again I am still confused as to why she gave in to J.C. blackmailing her in the first place. She's the Executioner! Just stake him. She already proved she can take out a master vampire with Nikolaus.

  2. Wait, is Anita wearing a long skirt, or a short one? Because if it's so darn short, it should be super easy for her to pull out those knives strapped to her calves. Also, everyone should be able to see the knives, making it even weirder that she got to keep them. Oh, wait, LKH doesn't do editing. Never mind.

    Anyway, Jason is one of Jean-Claude's werewolf servants, otherwise known as an animal to call. This by the way is one of my favorite ideas in the AB world.

    I'm gonna have to disagree, because from what I've heard, it just sounds like it slants the power balance way too far in the vampires' favor. Because since they're all pretty (even when they shouldn't be), they deserve to be top dogs in the supernatural world.

    "Personally I think neutral is just another way of saving your own ass at the expense of someone else's."

    Sorry, Anita, but not everyone's a bloodthirsty psychopath like you are. Believe it or not, most people actually try to avoid starting fights. But I guess that's just a sign of "weakness", isn't it?

    Again, I think NiC might be the best Anita Blake book, not the worst. The flashes of insight are shocking, considering how utterly awful she is by the time Harlequin rolls around.

    Yeah, but you're forgetting something - all these wonderful insights are coming from someone who's probably the bad guy, and thus everything he says is wrong. Because that's how the AB-verse works.

    Narcissus has to comment on how little Anita is wearing, and how it must be hard to carry a gun under that.

    Re-reading this line, my mind went to a very dirty place.

    Okay, seriously, when does the plot show up?

    1. "Okay, seriously, when does the plot show up?"

      I am like ten percent in and they're still doing absolutely nothing.

  3. I hope I didn't bring up anything too unpleasant for you with my last comment. If it helps any, I don't think I read anything by you then, or at least I don't remember it, I'd just seen your name around a few shared comms. I promise I shan't mention it again (I only do now because I wanted to say sorry), and my apologies.

    "However, I question why this Othering has to come at the expense of typical feminine expectations and gender performance. "
    Because internalized misogyny

    What bothers me less than Anita's biases themselves is that they're not treated as bad. It always reads to me 100% as if LKH endorses her messed-up views, and doesn't realize how wrong she is at all. I don't ask for 'perfect' heroes either, but I do ask for their flaws to be treated and shown as such. I don't mind reading about a sexist/racist/etc.., but I do mind being asked to agree with one.

    "Either magic and supernatural beings have always been present, or they haven't. "
    You'll find LKH has a LOT of problems in this area

    " Go for a dark, twisted world, one that's overtly sexual and almost cartoonish"
    Sounds like Cool World with werewolves! I'd be up for that...

    I'd really, really like to see Narcissus written by someone other than LKH, I truly would.

    "I can completely see Anita being willing to spit on me while throwing punches. She doesn't like or enjoy anything. She's overly reliant on violence to solve all of her problems. She views diplomacy as a weakness instead of a skill. Of course main characters can be difficult to like and still be effective, but there's nothing about Anita that a reader can feel sympathetic towards. Even anti-heroes usually have something that humanizes them."
    Yup yup yup, I feel the same way about her. She actively revolts me to read about sometimes.

    She will frequently call people her cats, wolves, etc. in the series and it always gives me the willies too.

    "I think this must play in to LKH's notion that Anita can't be good if she wants sex."

    1. Oh it's no problem at all. Frankly I am probably being a little silly about it thanks to the distortion that comes with mental illness and it's general awfulness.

      "I don't mind reading about a sexist/racist/etc.., but I do mind being asked to agree with one."

      YES. I could not have said this better myself. This is EXACTLY my problem. It's as if LKH does not understand these things to be negatives, which is so very worrisome.

      "She actively revolts me to read about sometimes."

      When a friend of mine was doing a write up of Harlequin I felt this way pretty often. Like, sometimes these books are so bad they're fun, and other times they upset me to the point where all I can do is stare blankly at the screen in shock.

  4. As to your first question: yes. It's heavily black. It also had one of the worst race riots in US history in 1917. Almost surprised it wasn't a sundown town, but I'm going to guess St. Louis proper basically held that honour.

    It's actually interesting to me that LKH bases her work in the Midwest, as do a few other writers (Butcher and Harrison come to mind, since I read them both), and yet, all of them tend to completely gloss over the fact there are more than a few cities that are highly segregated here. Milwaukee (and I live in the northern suburbs) was the number one segregated city in 2013. St. Louis, according to the website, was sixth; and at least half on the list of 25 are in the Midwest. It makes me wonder if LKH even realizes what she's written here (that the "other side of the river" is bad), or she's fully aware of it, and doesn't think it matters.

    1. I have a confession to make. I do not like the Dresden Files. Consequently I've only read the first two, plus some of the stories in Side Jobs. I have heard though that Butcher is particularly bad regarding inclusion, despite Harry living in an area with a fair amount of diversity.

      I don't think LKH is aware of it. By her own admission she grew up terribly sheltered, and I don't think that has ever fully gone away. It's saddening to think that she might subconsciously associate undesirable with black, but in a white supremacist society many people do exactly that.

      That said, I'd have more sympathy for her if she reacted in a more humble fashion when people point this things out to her. It's not her fault she's sheltered, but being absolutely unwilling to consider criticism is another matter.

    2. It got better after the first three, honestly. And yeah, he doesn't really have many PoC, but Butcher also doesn't actually live in Chicago. So on the one hand, yes, it's pretty damn weird he doesn't really know anyone that looks like me in the neighborhood, but on the other hand, I don't think Butcher researches demographics. Ramirez does show up, but I believe he's from California, and there's a Native American wizard who is basically a mild smartass who I have a bit of love for. I also don't recall where exactly in Chicago Dresden (used to) live, and Chicago itself is segregated enough that's possible he doesn't actively engage with many PoC because they might not be calling on his services. It's probably highly unlikely, but possible.

      (I also do enjoy the crap out of the series, so I do admit it doesn't bother me very much either.)

    3. I noticed this weird trend where white fantasy authors like to include a single Native character who sits around making fun of political correctness. Though of course there are Natives who feel that way and use the word Indian, for example, I just find it to be a questionable trend if they also happen to be secondary characters.

      You make good points though. Still, I guess I'd like to see more authors try and incorporate the diversity of human experience. These authors are often already writing about werewolves, vampires, fairies and so on but they seem to feel the inclusion of minority characters is just so over the top.

      Then again I think trying to write about a place you don't live/a very segregated place can indeed be quite difficult.

      I think my deal with the Dresden files is it feels so busy. I admit I have weird taste. I didn't like Buffy either. Worlds where everything just feels jammed full of supernaturals at every single turn.

  5. To answer your first question: yes, it is. It's over 90% African-American. Which is unsurprising, since the Midwest is plenty full of segregation that everyone wants to pretend doesn't exist. (I know, I live in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee, numero uno on the list of segregated cities.)

    1. Yeah, I think the Jeff Dahmer case really brought home Milwaukee's race problems. I can only hope its seen some improvement since.

  6. Also, I seriously thought (and still do) that this was supposed to be the mythical third mark they were doing, which was also supposed to tie them all together permanently, plus make Anita and Richard immortal. Somewhere after this, that got dropped or forgotten, but I swear to Hell and back, this is what they said was happening.

    Also, also, re: the disparate groups; I can kind of see this being plausible, if everyone has been spoon fed these constant stereotypes. A bit like supernatural segregation, honestly; not only does everyone feel more comfortable around their own types, they've been told (until they were infected or what-not, if they weren't born into it) that "wolves are like this, leopards are like that," etc. So there may not be a whole of shifters questioning why they all tend to hie off into their own groups and act, frankly, pretty stupidly. It reminds me a bit of Christopher Golden's vampire books (before they turned into the Magical Peter series anyway), where vampires had been so magically and mentally twisted into believing they couldn't go into the sun by the Church that they literally had to overcome their own brainwashing to find out the sun didn't do squat to them. Maybe this is the Anitaverse's own form of self-brainwash.

    1. I think ultimately there are four marks, and I have yet to figure out what they all do or when they're all acquired. Even the characters don't know!

      Yeah it could certainly work, but the issue I have is that none of these groups have a common origin, nor are they in constant contact, yet they all seem to feel very similarly about the same issues. An author could certainly write the concept you're outlining and do it well, I just don't think that's what LKH is doing.

    2. Also those books sound interesting. I'll have to check them out.

  7. As someone from the St. Louis area, yes, our poor areas to tend to be mostly people of colour, which would include east St. Louis (which is in Illinois). However, LKH may have meant the clubs were shadier as Missouri has stricter rules on clubs than Illinois. For example, Illinois allows full nudity while Missouri does not.

    As for the marks, they're questionable. In GP, the first and second marks were definitely forced on her, and then the third mark was also forced on her in CotD. However, the marks get cancelled out in the same book. She regains them in tKD so she can help save Richard and JC so I think she was willing that time. Then again, it wasn't written very well. I've read the book several times, and I'm still not 100% sure.

  8. So, in Guilty Pleasures, LKH mentions the business policies of St. Louis, where you can have a strip club in an area that's zoned for it, if it's been there longer than the laws prohibiting strip clubs inside St. Louis city limits, but you can't serve alcohol, and you can't do full nudity. This is all true. The "other side of the river" refers to the parts of St. Louis which are actually in Illinois, where the laws are different. That area is scanky after, but you can serve alcohol in a titti bar and full nudity is legal. A lot of the BDSM clubs are also on that side of the river because of the differences between St. Louis proper and Illinois zoning laws.