WIHM 2022: Anita Blake, the Vampire Slayer
Celebrating Anita Blake, the Vampire Slayer
By: Corinne Pollard
Before Buffy, there was Anita Blake. From the first novel ‘Guilty Pleasures’ to ‘Rafael’, the female protagonist Anita Blake has been slaying vampires, befriending the supernatural and holding onto her own humanity since first publication in 1993- and wow, what a journey! Laurell K Hamilton has written about thirty Anita Blake narratives with some even published as Marvel comics.
Hamilton’s badass vampire slayer has remained an interesting woman, engrossing me with her detective work, her relationships and her everyday life in a St Louis, USA filled with vampires and shapeshifters as legal citizens. I have re-read the series more than once and even persuaded others to read her story. Now I wish to explore further.
Why is Anita Blake inspiring? How is she different from other horror female protagonists?
The series evolves with Anita’s growth from a twenty-four year old to her thirties and with this comes her maturity that is strengthened by her self-education. Anita is willing to learn new things and when she is wrong she has the ability to hold her hand up and admit it apologetically.
Another of her endearing traits is her loyalty. Once she has given her friendship or alliance she finds it very hard to stop caring for them. Throughout the books, her love interests, friendships and alliances change with some falling out forever yet Anita continues to think of them. In ‘Guilty Pleasures’, her loyalty also stretches to humanity itself. She believes humans should not sell out humans to other species. This is a line that is crossed in ‘Guilty Pleasures’ and we see Anita’s full fury as she threatens another female character.
Even though Hamilton’s location is a dark fantasy version of our own world, there are still identifiable problems such as Anita battles nearly everyday to be accepted in a male dominated job. As a paranormal expert, she works with the police to bring supernatural murderers to justice. She is no cop, but she dives into their world. She comes across cops who think it’s alright to jeer, flirt and treat her in a derogatory manner. How she handles herself in these situations may call into question as to why she needs to handle it at all but she does so indifferent to anyone’s opinion and I find that to be very brave.
Like our world, Anita’s seems focused on beauty. The supernatural have their unnatural beauty and Anita is unafraid to compliment others yet she does not see herself as beautiful. With her job comes danger and she has many scars to prove it. However she doesn’t care about her appearance. It is only later on in the series through her loving relationships and their remarks that she begins to believe that maybe she is attractive.
Lastly it is sometimes easy to forget that Anita is a woman-laughable I know, but hear me out! She is full of rage, dislikes dresses, dislikes relatively anything girly, drinks coffee for breakfast, adores guns and fighting. I love everything about her, but the cherry on top is her secretive adoration for penguins. She has a huge penguin collection and her favourite is a stuffed cuddly toy called Sigmund who she relies on to snuggle with to keep the really bad nightmares away. You have to admit- it is adorable!
Overall Anita’s unique character with her morals, her background, her flaws and her love interests have kept me engrossed for a long time and will continue to keep me hooked in the future. The series has changed from the simple horror it once was; Anita has been altered with additional paranormal abilities where she herself questions whether she is now one of the monsters she hunts and Hamilton has also added erotica elements essential to the plot. To me, these represent new challenges as Anita ages. She is no longer just a character. She has a special place in my fandom heart. Almost as real as you and I.
I have been reading Anita Bake novels for 25 years and they’ve only gotten better. Laurels K. Hamilton does an outstanding job of creating very real characters so much so that you become invested in either their welfare or their deaths. If you like this series, you should give her Merry Gentry Series a try as well. It is delicious and about the fae. The Unseelie mostly but is set against the backdrop of modern day L.A….I read many different horror/fantasy series and this one is amongst my most beloved. It is only 9 books about 4-600 pg apiece so it won’t take you long and it’s impossible to put down.
I picked up a random book one day (Obsidian Butterfly) when I was bored and had some free time. I read about half of it in one go before setting it down, pulling out my phone, and ordering the first several books of the series ..I literally just ordered the second half of the series yesterday from thrift books, then I stumble across this article on my Google news feed. Lol.
Yeah you should double check your facts Buffy the vampire Slayer the movie came out in 1992 which makes that before Anita not after.