A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Burnt Offerings’ chapter thirty four

After the exciting post yesterday, where we realised how fully the depths of authorial masturbation can go, we go back in time to Burnt Offerings. When we left it, Ronnie was being called a slut and there was inaccurate medicine.

The phone rings in Anita’s simply cavernous kitchen. It’s Dolph. Anita presumes he’s going to ask about Zane, because social calls are great when a guy is slowly bleeding to death,  but he’s actually here to talk about something important.

“Nearly every vampire-owned business or house in the city was hit about the same time this morning. They fire-bombed the Church of Eternal Life, and we’ve had one-on-one hits on non-vamps all over the city.”

Fear rushed through me like fine champagne.

So instead of THE ACTUAL PLOT ON THE BLURB ABOUT A MASSIVE COORDINATED ATTACK ON THE VAMPIRES OF SAINT LOUIS, we got pointless fanservice, pointless discussions about Ronnie’s sex life, and Anita trying to shoot butterflies with her gun.

And I am so going to have to steal the ‘fine champagne’ line for my next book. My next parody book.

Anita’s first thought is for Dead Dave, a minor character we haven’t seen in about five books. Not her boyfriend, no. A random guy she never, ever thinks about. He’s fine, thankfully, as the police were stationed outside of his bar and not protecting any other vampire business.

Dolph asks why Anita is so unconcerned about JC, and she says how he stayed over last night. I’m not sure how running around the Circus all night counts as ‘staying the night’, but whatever. There is a rather long conversation about whether JC was involved (nope) and that the police have some random suspects in custody. It would seem that the attacks are not just aimed at vampires, as one man walked into a shapeshifter bar with a submachine gun and some silver ammo.

The club, incidentally, is ‘The Leather Den’. It’s the only bar in the whole of the United States to cater for male sadomasochistic gay shapeshifters. Isn’t St. Lois a rather strange place for it to be located? I would have expected a place like that to be in San Francisco, or New York, or possibly even New Orleans. I am sure St. Louis is a lovely place, but somewhere as unique as that I would expect to find in a very, very large city, known for having thriving gay and S&M communities.

The machine gunner was killed by those in the club.

“The survivors ate him.”

“Bet they didn’t,” I said.

“They used teeth to kill him, Anita. That’s eating in my book.”

…… what

Not only is Anita really, really childish with her ‘oooo I bet they didn’t, no backsies!’ crap, killing someone with your teeth and eating them is not the same thing. I would think a homicide detective would know the difference between killing and eating. In one, you get a body. For the other, you get some really fancy meals.

Dolph says they need Anita to come in, as not only have there been fires and mass machine gun attacks, people have been bursting into the isolation wards where shapeshifters are treated in hospitals and trying to shoot them.

The shooter had his head cracked open by the bodyguards left by Stephen (remember him?) by Anita. This means that Anita has to be with Padgett, the detective who can’t stand ‘monsters’, in a segue that makes no sense whatsoever.

Malcolm, the founder of the Church of Eternal Life, was fire bombed in the church and is still there. No one knows if he’s still in one piece, but given how much LKH has banged on about vampires being such good kindling I would be surprised if he was still intact.

They talk a little about Larry and shooting people. Then this happens.

“If all you have is a hammer, Anita, every problem begins to look like a nail.”

“I read Massad Ayoob too, Dolph. I don’t use my gun as the only solution.”

ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha wait are you not joking

Anita has a sudden revelation about the date. You see, today is ‘The Day of Cleansing’.

“The history books call it the Day of Cleansing. The vampires call it the Inferno. Two hundreds years ago the Church joined forces with the military in Germany, England, oh hell, almost every European country except France – and burned out every vampire or suspected vampire sympathizer in a single day. The destruction was complete and a lot of innocent people went up in flames. But the fire accomplished their goal, a lot fewer vampires in Europe.”

You numbed me then broke out the terrible history. That was painful.

  • The Church, capitalised, would indicate that this was orchestrated by the Catholic Church. I’d like to see how the Catholic Church managed to orchestrate a mass manoeuvre like this in countries where Protestantism was the national religion.
  • Germany as a single unified state did not exist.
  • ‘almost every European country’. Similarly, modern European countries did not really exist either. Let’s look at a map of Europe in 1800 (looking for a 1798 map is too tricky)

Europe is mainly dominated by empires, of varying shades and types. European countries, as we know them now, existed as territories and provinces within much larger frameworks of state.

And yeah, try getting anyone to work with each other. I’d like to see France and Spain work together.

“Why didn’t France join with everyone?”

“Some historians think the King of France had a vampire mistress. The French Revolutionaries put out propaganda that the nobility were all vampires at one point, which wasn’t true of course. Some say that’s why the guillotine was so popular. It kills both the living and the undead.”

This Day of Cleansing would have taken place around 1798, based on the fact that this book was published in 1998, yadda yaddda. The thing is that the days of France butchering aristocrats were already over. Louis XVI was executed in 1793. France was a republic and much calmer by 1798.

As well as that, Louis XVI is one of the only kings of France to notably NOT have a famous mistress or a mistress of any kind. If you want to throw around accusations of vampiric impropriety, then it was Marie Antoinette who was said to have all sorts of mistresses.

This just highlights by big issue with LKH’s world building. I want her to have an inventive and creative world in her books – I want her to succeed! But she doesn’t put any thought into it. The Day of Cleansing would have gone down in folklore. It certainly would have made a huge impact on the wider world, even if vampires were not held to exist. This is mass murder on a huge scale, but it’s made into a sideline event within the book it is supposed to highlight.

Anita tells Dolph that the Day of Cleansing must be referred to as the Inferno when talking to vampires.

“The other phrase is like calling the Jewish Holocaust a racial cleansing.”

can you not refer to actual occasions of genocide when talking about your made up events please

and two things

  • In a scholarly sense, calling the Holocaust ‘racial cleansing’ is acceptable as, you know, that is what it was.
  • The Holocaust should not be referred to as explicitly being Jewish. The Holocaust was not aimed at eradicating Jewish people solely. It also aimed for the genocide of black people, the Roma, the mentally ill, the disabled, and homosexuals.
  • Yeah, I don’t think using a Holocaust metaphor was a good idea.

She puts the phone down, and Pete McKinnon, the fireman, is on the line. He wants to know how to get Malcolm out the church without setting him on fire, as Anita is clearly a fucking expert on fire prevention. The solution they come up with is to pour water on the flames and hope that vampires don’t drown.

I hope the trained fireman that had to phone a random woman to learn how to put out a fire will know that if you pour cold water on superheated stones, they explode. Otherwise bad things will happen.

Anita promises to run on down to the church, as she is obviously an expert on fire fighting.

This chapter is frustrating. It was also frustrating to read.


13 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Burnt Offerings’ chapter thirty four

  1. Fine champagne isn’t really the likness you want to use for fear.

    Yeah, if there was only one gay S&M supernatural club, I don’t think it’d be in St. Louis. Definitely more NYC or San Fran. Anyway, by Narcissus in Chains, there’s another…also in St.Louis. It’s the eponymous Narcissus in Chains.


    • Well, she didn’t have mistresses per say, but her close friendships with women, especially the Princess of Lamballe, led to the accusation that she was a fiendish perverted lesbian. Coupled with the fact that it took a very long time for Marie Antoinette and Louis to consummate their marriage and have children, it was widely assumed by the populace of France that Marie Antoinette was a massive Austrian lesbian bitch trying to undermine the country.

      There is a lot of erotica from the time about it. No matter how far you go back, people are always fetishising lesbianism.

      • …is it fetishizing for me to enjoy it if I’m a lesbian too? 😀 (but no, hahah yeah that does not surprise me)

      • Part of (well, probably all of) the reason it took so long for Louis to sire an heir is that he had a medical condition that made it painful for him to, shall we say, “rise” to the occasion. Then he got some surgery, and problem solved.

        And while I can’t comment on Marie Antoinette’s sexual preferences, I do know that she did have extra-marital affairs (what’s the male equivalent of “mistress” anyway? “master” just sounds wrong.)

      • It’s a common myth that Louis suffered from phimosis that was corrected with surgery; there is little evidence that he did, and the length of time it took for the royal couple to consummate their marriage is now attributed to other factors.

        Similarly, the evidence about Marie Antoinette’s extra-marital affairs is sketchy at best.

        I think they just get called ‘lovers’, which doesn’t… quite work. ‘Lover’ implies a certain amount of equality between a couple, but ‘mistress’ has certain kept connotation that doesn’t match. ‘Male mistress’? ‘Lover boy’?

  2. I might be more upset about the purging of vampires if you didn’t show us quite well that 99.99% of them really are ridiculously evil, Laurell.

    Just a tip.

  3. My thoughts as I read this:

    “I don’t use my gun as the only solution.”

    To quote Bender: “Oh, wait, you were serious. Let me laugh even harder.”

    “Two hundreds years ago the Church joined forces with the military in Germany, England, oh hell, almost every European country except France – and burned out every vampire or suspected vampire sympathizer in a single day.”


    “The other phrase is like calling the Jewish Holocaust a racial cleansing.”

    Oh, no. Just… just… no.

    • ‘Europe in the eighteenth century was just like America!’

      NO. NO. NO. European politics at the time was so complicated, I doubt you’d be able to get the leaders to share a box of pencils without starting a small succession war.

      Comparing fictional events to the Holocaust is never a good idea.

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