A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Guilty Pleasures’ chapter thirty seven

Anita has arrived at, of all places, the Circus of the Damned. I thought when she escaped from the clutches of Little Miss Nikky, she had ended up accidentally in the Circus – or at least, that was the implication. But no, I’m guessing Nikky, Claudia expy extraordinaire lives in the Circus. which is totally nothing like the theatre in interview with the vampire, honest.

One banner showed a man being hung: “The Death Defying Count Alcount,” it said. Zombies crawled from a graveyard in one picture; “Watch the Dead Rise from the Grave.” A very bad drawing showed a man halfway between wolf and man shape; Fabian, the Werewolf. There were other signs. Other attractions. None of them looked very wholesome.

Guilty Pleasures treads a thin line between entertainment and the sadistic. The Circus goes over the edge and down into the abyss.

It sounds like a Victorian freak show. It’s described in the narrative as being like a fair or a carnival, which rather contrasts with the general macabre attitude of the place. Is it for adults or for the whole family? Two big men come over and are basically ‘HUH HUH HUH WE BIG YOU SMALL’ and drag her off inside.  The carnival atmosphere actually increases when Anita goes inside – there’s even a ferris wheel. Why? Is this a place for adults or for children? What kind of place is this, Hamilton? I know it’s a Circus but is it a literal Circus? Because that implies that it’s okay for small children to come and watch a man being hung. Some genuine Victorian fun for all the family!

Valentine, the evilly decadent vampire, is behind all this. That’s just what the narrative needed – something else to distract us from what Anita ought to be doing, you know, solving the crime. Aubrey and Nikky are there, swanning around covered in blood. Threatening. They have Philip.

He was chained to the wall at wrist and ankle. His long, brown hair had fallen forward, hiding one eye. His muscular body was covered in bites. Blood rained down his tan skin in thin crimson lines. He stared up at me from that one brown eye, the other hidden in his hair. Despair. He knew he had been brought here to die, like this, and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it.

Okay, was it necessary to repeat that his eye was covered? I already knew that. I do not have a one second memory. And I know I’m meant to feel sorry for Philip, but Anita, you never treated him as your equal. You treated him like scum for two hundred pages because he likes vampires and NOW you’re sorry for him and want to help? Where did this sudden change in opinion come from? You were treating him like shit and hated his guts for biting you! We do not feel sorry for him, and your narrative did that.

Nikky laughs evilly and talks about how she will kill Anita’s lover and is not threatening or interesting in any way. Nikky waves a hand over Anita’s face and manages to cut her skin open with the power of … handwavium! She bites Philip and laughs about how evil she is. I don’t care.

Anita submits to stop Philip being killed and they let her stay in the room with Philip to talk about… I have no idea.

Why are they letting her do this? She could just free Philip now. Anyway, she asks him what happened because that’s the most important thing to do. Not administer to his wounds or find out what the fuck is going on with the murders or anything. Oh no. Anita and Philip need a ‘moment’.

Anita then runs out and leaves Philip to be brutally murdered.



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