I'm sorry I've fallen so behind Dottie but because of the way I do these, they take FOREVER.
Back to Anita Blake
Richard starts screaming and Anita leaves because everyone else is better at taking care of him than she is. She also thinks that Richard let himself get this bad without calling for help because he's trying to commit "passive suicide."
At one time I was annoyed with Richard because he was still complaining about being a werewolf eleventy billion books in, but then I realized that Richard is dead on. Why? Look at what werewolves and werecreatures in general do. They rape. They torture. They murder. When they don't control themselves, they get the urge to cannibalize one another. It is a death sentence. It makes you in to a monster. Yet Anita thinks he's weak for not wanting to be a werewolf.
Jason drives, because he's afraid Anita might have another fainting spell. Anita points out that since all the doors at the Circus have crosses on them, she shouldn't have any difficulties. People, this is the first time in over twenty chapters that the 'plot' has made an appearance, and now only as an aside. So has Musette just been waiting in her room this whole time, while Anita cries and fucks and forgets to put conditioner in her hair? I like the idea of all the vampire stereotypes actually working, but surely after thousands of years vampires like Belle Morte and her agents would have found a way around them. I mean, what's the point of having human servants if they can't sneak around and remove a cross or two?
So Anita, Caleb, Nathaniel, and Jason are all driving along. Anita does this truly aggravating bullshit where sometimes she starts channeling a woman from a trashy Victorian novel, to whit: "if you throw a furry through a windshield, do they not still bleed?"
Jane Austen she is not.
Anita starts to smell roses and Belle Morte starts filling her head with cliche garbage about how Anita is going to feed her forever and ever till the end of time and there's nothing she can do and mine is an evil laugh.
Oh did I say farts? I mean roses. Yeah, that's it. Roses.
LKH hits me with halfway decent imagery of Belle Morte rolling around on a veritable carpet of hunky sweaty man flesh, feeding the ardeur. I love erotic horror and have since I picked up the Hot Blood anthology at fourteen years old, so the fact that Belle literally fucks so hard and long she kills people (Anita sees at least two dead men in this vision) is great. She's making JC watch it too, as punishment for leaving her. Now THAT is the glimmer of a good character.
Of course it will only be a glimmer. It's a shame that these characters never realize even a quarter of their potential, because I think all of them could shine if given the chance and the hand of a creator with actual skill at the craft of writing. I don't think those of us who spork this series would do it if we didn't see so much wasted potential.
Nathaniel touches her and the ardeur "roars through" her. The paragraph where she attempts to describe its effects is straight up evidence that LKH does not edit. A grim faced squad of fedora wearing special agents ought to show up and draw a chalk outline around it:
"The heat rushed over my skin in beads of sweat, brought my pulse pounding, rising like some ripe fruit to fill my throat, stop my breath, so for a moment I was drowning in the beat and pulse of my own body. I could hear my blood like a roaring flood. I could feel every pulse, every drop to the tingling tips of my fingers and toes. I had never been so aware of how very much blood was coursing through my veins as I was in that one heart-stopping moment."
I have a huge pet peeve for using the same word over again shortly after the first use (aagh using and use!), but I think even without that being a particular aggravation of mine, the text above is offensive.
She starts sniffing and pawing Nathaniel. Not only does he smell of sex and blood (sigh) his hands also smell faintly of everything he touched that day. I hope he hasn't taken a shit or eaten any asparagus then.
Okay so it's not actually the ardeur, but blood lust. We also discover that Anita is very serious about keeping her seat belt on at all times because her mother wouldn't have died had her mother been wearing one. Huh. How that's never come up before, I don't know. Especially considering I've been dying for something characterizing about Anita since I started reading this godawful drivel.
Sorry not sorry, LKH.
Anita does her best to eat everyone in the car. Jason starts driving like a maniac so she'll be thrown about instead. She gets in the back seat and tries to eat Nathaniel, then Caleb. This actually isn't bad. It's creepy, it's dangerous, and it's forcing her to make moves on someone she actively dislikes. Anita starts to want Caleb sexually, too, but Belle forces her to want his blood instead. She wants Anita's desires to mirror hers, and I think that's a fairly effective way to show us how Belle functions as a villain.
Anita's power menagerie starts to gallop around. I don't object to her having multiple powers, but it's like at the end of a play where all the actors have to come out and bow to the audience. And here we have Anita's necromancy! And Anita's beasts! And...and...and.
Anita is full on molesting Caleb at this point. I'll just skim over the consent issues because that's a given at this point. Hilariously, Anita says Caleb's nipple piercings are "like a toothpick in your sandwich, they were in the way."
I legitimately and literally laughed out loud when I read this. I am sure that's not what LKH was going for. She then follows this up with a vicious comedy right hook: "I tore my arms through Caleb's shirt..."
I need a fucking diagram, people. How you do this? Also the awkward as fuck writing makes this a billion times better as I imagine Anita hulking out like some shrieking sex banshee while screaming I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS!
Except they missed my copy, sadly.
Caleb is wondering what the fuck is going down, and Jason tells him it's his turn to "take one for the team" and "you're going to get munched on."
This made me cold with rage and disgust. Rape is such an overarching theme in this series that I truly wonder at its inclusion. I don't know if it's better to think that LKH doesn't realize, or that she does. Remember too that Merle forced Caleb to be here, with threats that made him cry with terror when Anita initially suggested he stay home instead of coming with them. So now he's going to get mutilated, because when you're near Anita you should expect to be rape fodder at any and all times.
To Anita's credit she tries to resist the impulse to treat a man she barely knows and doesn't like as a chew toy.
Oh my fucking god, this whole bullshit is so Anita is forced to call on Richard to help her cast out Belle Morte. I hate Anita AND Richard. Anita is a rapist and doesn't understand why Richard didn't enjoy it when she shattered his trust and crossed all of his boundaries, and Richard is a sad sack with the personality of a bowl of oatmeal. (Frankly I might be being too generous; I like oatmeal)
See, and this time? Richard is too weak to push her away so doesn't bother to try.
Well, Belle Morte is all no you shall not have your wolf, and I will give you all the vampire marks and steal you from J.C., because of course I want a completely ineffective aggravating political idiot for a servant because that makes sense. Honestly J.C. would be better off if he killed Anita. She's horrible for him. She's a psychopath and a narcissist but doesn't have the intelligence or ability to imagine the future that might make her effective. So instead she bumbles around messing up all of J.C.'s plans by being completely and utterly tone deaf to anything that doesn't directly benefit her in the present moment.
So Belle keeps on this track about how she will own Anita and everything she loves blah blah and her eyes are like huge brown flames and honey and roses and omg Belle is sexy and she loves to sex people to death and blood and...
Anita has a glimmer of caring about other people when she realizes that Belle can control the pard through her if she gives up control. I think it's one of the only time she's ever referred to having friends. Not only is that the most pathetic thing I've ever heard, the metaphysical battle for Anita's soul is expressed through a giant pair of disembodied eyes (Belle) battling a cloud of potpurri (Richard's power).
No, I'm serious. That's what Anita sees and feels. When Belle is winning her eyes get closer and closer, and then Richard's power has to counter with a bigger cloud. This scene has potential, what with Belle trying to control her in a car actively barreling down the highway, but with that kind of imagery there's no chance I can take it seriously. Plus, she's just randomly screaming help me! at everyone else as if they're supposed to know what's going on.
Richard fills Anita with his beast. Belle's eyes retreat and hover near the roof of the Jeep. If that's not comedy, I don't know what is.
"I'd never felt Richard's beast so thick inside me."
"It was if I was a purse, a bag, holding his beast..."
Oh my god you guys, there is so much wrong with the use of the word purse in this scene, not least of which is that it makes me imagine Richard's all powerful beast as an anemic Chihuaha named Coco.
It's as if this dog is saying: "Excuse me, knock off all that vampire shit okay? I'm trying to nap." Thanks for being the voice of reason, Mr. Kibbles.
Belle is all, fine, your wolf may protect you for now, but tonight at the banquet I will be there through Musette, and then you will be my ma petite! Bahaha! At this point the 'plot' is so muddled that I have no fucking idea if this banquet has been mentioned before now or if LKH just straight pulled it out of her ass.
"Vampires were always trying to kill me, or own me. God, I hated being popular."