Anita Blake is the main character in a series of novels by Laurel K. Hamilton. The Anita Blake series came along in the very early days of the Urban Fantasy boom. In many ways Anita Blake shaped what female protagonists of Urban Fantasy heroes have become. In short, Anita can be considered one of the Grande Dames of Urban Fantasy. (In her company are such characters as Sookie Stackhouse of the Southern Vampire Mystery series by Charlaine Harris, and Rachel Morgan from The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. You’ll probably see both of those characters in future articles.) The Anita Blake series takes place in St. Louis.
Anita Blake was introduced in 1993 in the book Guilty Pleasures. Her adventures have continued on she recently kicked ass in the 21st book of the series Kiss the Dead which was released just last month. Most hero stories start off with our protagonist not yet in possession of their kick-ass abilities. Not so for Anita Blake. When we first meet her it is through her job as a necromancer employed by Animators, Inc., a company that specializes in temporarily resurrecting loved ones for the purpose of answering questions. (Such as, “Where did you leave your will, Grandpa?”) In addition to that Anita is also a licensed vampire slayer with the charming nickname of “The Executioner.” Anita also consults with a special task force (the Regional Preternatural Investigation Taskforce or RPIT.)
Not long into the book Anita finds herself blackmailed into working for the vampires Master of the City. Suffice to say Anita is less than enthusiastic about working with “the monsters” since her usual role is to kill them. By the end of the book we learn that Anita is a far more powerful necromancer than anyone could have guessed. She forms a link to Jean-Claude, who after a series of brutal events, become the new Master of the City.
As the series continues Anita develops more and more powerful abilities. She forms alliances with not just vampires, but with various members of the were community. First the were-wolves, and then leopards, rats, and even more exotic shape shifters like the Swan manes. Along with powerful allies Anita stumbles into conflict and makes enemies left and right. From vampires, to her fellow hunters and even the Mother of All Darkness herself. This continues as a theme in the books until it becomes apparent that Anita is more than human anymore, and she in fact is held in as much regard and fear as the most powerful of “monsters.”
That leads to a running theme in the book. With each new ability she develops she struggles to maintain her sense of identity. She fights to retain her humanity while coming to grips that she is far more capable of protecting others than she is herself. Eventually she begins to realize that to keep herself human she must do all she can to protect the things she loves and believes in. In addition to all this the series becomes very… adult. In fact it becomes more than just urban fantasy and enters the realm of erotica. There was harsh criticism for awhile that the series focused too much on the sex and not enough on the story. Recently that trend seems to be reversing a little. While the storylines are returning a bit more to their roots there is still plenty of steamy sex to be had.
Aside from the supernatural issues that Anita deals with she has a lot of interpersonal stuff to contend with. Early on she gets into a relationship with Richard Zeeman, a werewolf. This gets expanded into a rough triangle with Jean-Claude. (Hold your horses; it’s going to get confusing.) Thanks to a power she was “gifted” from her link with Jean-Claude Anita developed a form of psychic vampirism where she needs to feed on sexual energy (and sometimes anger) called the “Ardeur.” To feed this she must have sex pretty regularly. It doesn’t matter with whom. At first Anita tried to fight it, but that led to some nasty situations. She tried to limit it, especially when she discovered that having sex to feed the Ardeur sometimes bonded her partner to her, metaphysically speaking. As time went on Anita got involved with Micah, and then Nathaniel (were-leopards.) They live with her and are her “sweeties” forming her core emotional triad. Anita picks up a variety of lovers, all supernatural, some vampire and some were-folk of different breeds. She has a long list of partners, but not all of them are her loves. Recently Anita has come to terms with her sexuality and identifies herself as Polyamorous. It works for her and gives us, the readers, a wonderful variety of sexy scenes, ranging from the fairly vanilla and passionate to some pretty weird kinky stuff.
All in all Anita Blake is a petite, hard as nails-but softer in the center, kick ass supernatural woman. The series is not for everyone, but I sure as heck enjoy it.