A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Blue Moon’ chapter four


The plane lands on a small airfield in the midst of the Smokey Mountains. Anita doesn’t know the difference between an airfield and an airport (really? really?) and talks about the Lesser Smokey Mountain Trolls which Richard has been studying for four years.

Studying for four years and only it only just became mentionable. *rolls eyes*

Everyone comes off the plane, including the two coffins containing Asher and Damian. I do not like either of them, as they have both been creepy, rapey bastards in past books.

Damian had been a Viking when he was alive, and I don’t mean the football team. He’d been a card-carrying, sword-wielding, marauding raider. One night he’d raided the wrong castle, and she took him.

  • Damian is the name of a fourth century Christian saint. I highly doubt a Viking raider would be named after him.
  • The vampire who turned him does not deserve a name. She’s female, after all.
  • I like the implication that Damian was such a moron, he attempted to raid a castle entirely by himself.
  • Castle in the late tenth century? No. While the concept of fortified structures that would evolve into the classical castle had been invented by fracturing Carolingian warlords in the ninth century, LKH clearly means traditional castles. And nope. Not around at that point.

A black guy called Ed comes out to greet them, but he thinks they’re here for Mr Niley.

His skin was the color of coffee, two creams.

He’s African American, LKH. Please don’t describe him to me in terms of coffee.

Jamil then comes in, and I think he’s been calling himself ‘Mr Niley’ or that his actual last name that was never considered important until now.

The enforcers were Sköll and Hati after the wolves that chase the sun and moon in Norse mythology. When they catch them, it will be the end of the world. Tells you something about werewolf society that their enforcers were named after creatures that would bring about the end of everything.

Tells me something about werewolf society that despite humans shifting into wolves being a theme and idea across the folklore of many nations and peoples, they choose to define themselves solely by European terms.

Jamil is an enforcer and is wearing all-white clothing. Anita goes on and on about how much it contrasts with the darkness of his skin and it makes me rather uncomfortable. He’s here as Richard’s bodyguard, and was not doing anything on the night Richard was accused of raping Betty Schaffer.

“Have you talked to her?”

No, Anita, he’s not allowed to. That’s called ‘witness intimidation’ and it’s a crime.

His eyes widened. “She’s already cried rape once on a fine, upstanding white boy. No, I haven’t talked to her.”

OK. LKH is now acknowledging that racism exists, which is good, but is also lumping it with the phrase ‘cried rape’ which has so many negative connotations I don’t even know where to begin with that. Only that it’s victim blaming of the worst sort, and I don’t like it.

I wondered if Jamil had been having trouble with the locals. It seemed likely. He wasn’t just African American. He was tall, handsome, and athletic looking. That alone would have gotten him on the redneck hit parade. The long cornrow hair and the killer fashion sense raised the question that he might violate the last white male bastion of homophobia. I knew that Jamil liked girls, but I was almost willing to be some of the locals hadn’t believed that.

Couldn’t you just try discussing enfranchised racism? Instead of saying ‘rednecks hate pretty people’, ‘rednecks hate gay men’, and ‘rednecks hate fashion’?

I’m guessing that there is going to be a lot of bashing of the locals for being ignorant compared to the enlightened minds of the Anita Blake carnival.

Jamil and Anita talk for a while about how Mr Niley is here doing land exploration, that this rape case is just the victim’s word against Richard and she’s a stinky liar, and that Richard has been sleeping around a lot. Jamil was scared to mention this in case Anita wanted to ‘police Richard’s sex life’. That’s a poor choice of words in this situation.

Richard had been dating Betty Schaffer, but is adamant that they never had sex. Well, that’s the simple way. Here’s how Anita’s mind tries to work it out.

“Did he have sex with the woman who’s made the accusation?”

“If you mean intercourse, no. She’s human,” he said. “Richard doesn’t do humans. He’s afraid they’re too fragile.”

“I thought you just said he’d been sleeping with Ms. Schaffer?”

No. He didn’t. He just said they did not have intercourse. He just said it, you stupid sack of shit.

“Having sex, but not doing the dirty deed.”

I wasn’t a virgin. I knew there were alternatives.

… why do you need to clarify the point by saying how you’re totally having all the sex and know all about it?

“Why alternative methods with humans? Why not just… do it?”

YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHY ANITA

IT WAS ONE OF THE TENSIONS OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH RICHARD

HE TOLD YOU THAT SHAPESHIFTERS ARE AT RISK OF ATTACKING THEIR PARTNERS AND ACCIDENTALLY KILLING THEM DURING SEX

YOU HAVE TOLD THE READER THIS EVERY BOOK SINCE

IT WAS WHY GABRIEL WANTED TO RAPE YOU, SO HE COULD RAPE YOUR DEAD BODY

WHY ARE YOU ACTING IGNORANT NOW AND HAVING JAMIL SPELL IT OUT FOR US

THIS HAS BEEN A PLOT POINT FOR FIVE BOOKS

I AM NOT STUPID

I CAN REMEMBER SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN TALKED ABOUT FOR FIVE BOOKS, FUCKNUT

There had been a point where I’d pretty much begged Richard to stay the night. To have sex with me. He’d said no because it wouldn’t be fair until I saw him change into werewolf form. I needed to be able to accept the whole package. I hadn’t been able to do that once the package bled and writhed all over me. But now I wondered if part of his hesitation had been simply fear of hurting me. Maybe.

I am actually so angry that I want to hurt something. I have never been this angry over a trivial thing such as this. It’s bullshit and lies, and is insulting to the reader. This blatant disregard for canon implies that the author thinks the reader is stupid and cannot remember past the beginning of this book. It was Anita who decided that she needed to see Richard change. Anita knew full well that shapeshifters could do to their partners. And it was Anita who grabbed hold of Richard when he was changing and wouldn’t let go.

This is broken off for a long interlude of the joys of unpacking cases from the plane, and oh, JC is so thoughtful that he’s planned all of Anita’s outfits for her, as that’s not hugely controlling and creepy. Nathaniel is lying on top of a coffin with his shirt off, and this takes two pages to deal with.

Everyone gets into a van, Anita makes a deal about her height and how it means she should sit in the middle (…), and that no one wears seat-belts and it brings back so much *trauma* for her. They’re driving to some cabins, and Cherry drops the bombshell that if Anita gets hurt, everyone in the gang is going to be slaughtered by JC.

Anita is confused – what, everyone is here as her bodyguards? She thought they were here for Richard!

Let me quote from chapter two.

“I know Colin and his people. You need an entourage that is impressive without being too frightening, and yet if the worst happens, they must be able to defend you and themselves. I will pick who goes and who stays.”

YOU KNEW THEY WERE YOUR BODYGUARDS, ANITA

for the love of fuck, you threatened war, and elected to drag the wereleopards and werewolves to keep you safe. This was just two chapters ago! Where’s the editor, to keep a check of shit like this?

The leopards try to argue that Anita is meant to keep them safe, not the other way around, so Jamil tries to tell Anita to keep out the way to avoid getting hurt. This means that she suddenly pulls out a knife and slits his arm open.

This is not how people behave, Anita.

Jamil is understandably annoyed, so Anita whips a gun out, points it at his head, and threatens to kill him.

This is not how normal people behave. This is not cool or heroic. This is pantswettingly sociopathic.

Anita bitches about how easy it is to kill people (still not cool, not ever cool) and Jamil backs down, as Anita outranks him in the pack. Throughout, everyone else was standing around, opening and closing their mouths like goldfish.

A man then comes out of nowhere, and it becomes apparent that they have arrived at where they are staying – the Blue Moon cabins, doyougettit. The guy owns the cabins and is the local packmaster. He was ‘playing human’ but Anita could see he’s a werewolf by the way that when he isn’t a wolf, he looks like a human being.

Anita demands that Jamil strip so that she can clean her knife.

The local packmaster – Verne – approves of how she thinks casual violence is amazing.

“No wonder Richard’s been having a hard time finding a replacement for you. You are a solid, cast-iron, ball-busting bitch.”

No. She’s a monster. Stop supporting her.

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16 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Blue Moon’ chapter four

  1. “I’m one of only two black men for about 50 miles,”

    This really stood out to me when I read this. Now if it were in say, Idaho with it’s amazing 0.8% black population and large land area I could sort of see it, but not Tennessee which is about 17% black. I am not an expert in the demographics of Tennessee but it seems highly unlikely to me that there would only be two black men in a fairly large geographical area (7853 square miles or roughly 18% of the state). Of course he could be being hyperbolic, but honestly at this point I don’t think that LKH is intelligent enough to understand hyperbole.

    • I didn’t mention it, but Jamil said this when in an air hanger with two other black guys. Which entirely invalidates his point.

      I’m fairly sure that this is all part of a wider scheme to make the town this is set in as white, vanilla, and bigoted as possible to make Anita look as good as possible.

    • I can’t speak for the bigger cities, but in my particular little corner of TN there really aren’t that many black people (or other POC, for that matter) who are residents. So that line didn’t stick out for me, assuming this little hamlet is modeled after in one of the smaller towns like Cosby, Kodak, or Gatlinburg. As you get to the more populated areas (Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis, etc.) you do find a lot more diversity, but in some of the smaller towns it’s pretty much white.

      • I think that’s why I didn’t comment on Jamil’s comment – I didn’t want to speak on behalf of towns in TN, because obviously, I don’t know that much about rural Tennessee. I can say, that as someone from a small town in the most rural county in England, it’s… frankly, Lincolnshire is 99.8% white. In my school of almost a thousand students, there were maybe five WOC. It’s not shocking to me that there may only be a few POC in town, and I figured that Jamil’s statement was probably (sadly) accurate.

      • Well, I am from north Idaho. So I guess that is one of the reasons the line stood out for me. I worked in the south for a couple of years and one of the things that I really noticed when I was there was a there was a lot of black people. So when LKH says there are only two black people in a massive area, that really stood out.

        I mean, you mentioned Cosby. According to the census data, Cosby had ~10 black people living there in 2000. To put this in perspective: the entire county of Clearwater, Idaho is 2,488.10 square miles (almost 6% the entire state of Tennessee) and had an amazing 13 black people when the census was taken in 2000.

        And, about 10 miles to the north of Cosby is Newport with a black population of ~360 people in 2000.

        So you can sort of see why I read that line and go ‘bullshit’. Though, I guess I can see someone coming from an area where there is a much larger population of black people stating that the area is all white as a form of hyperbole–but like I said I am not willing to give LKH the benefit doubt that she was using hyperbole.

  2. This behaviour is not consistent with the life experience she is supposed to have had. I’ll assume she graduated at 22, when she was immediately recruited by Animators Inc. At this point, aside from the dead animals she accidently raises, she has had little contact with the preternatural community, and should have roughly the same mindset as your average person – stabbing to prove a point is bad.

    At Animators Inc, a co-worker starts training her to be a vampire executioner. In the real world, this would be a job done by specially trained individuals, likely with previous experience in the police or military. However, I will assume that she was in training and hunting with her mentor for a year. So at 23, she was a professional vampire executioner. She might have faster reflexes than normal, and she might be more inclined to use the maximum possible force in response to a threat rather than a minimum – you don’t want a vampire getting up when you think he’s down. But still, violence would not be an appropriate response to an everyday situation

    Guilty Pleasures starts when she is.24. She has only been hunting vampires as a part-time thing for a year. The responses, reactions and reputation that she has are not normal.. They indicate a predisposition towards violence, and suggest that she only hunts vampires so she can kill things.

    And she shouldn’t be the bogeyman of the vampires. We haven’t seen or heard of any significant vampire executions since the series started, so I have to assume that other than whats in the books, the rest have all been very routine. So she had 2 years, if you’re generous, to build a reputation whilst working part-time, that the other executioners don’t have despite working possibly for decades.

    It also means that she shouldn’t have any experience that would be valuable to the police than anyone with the same degree she did wouldn’t also have. The executioner that works for Animators Inc would be a much better choice if they needed someone who knew about vampire hunting and raising zombies on the same case.

    Sorry. Got carried away.

    • Getting carried away is what this blog is made for.

      Anita reacts like someone who has operated in a world where violence and abuse are very common and to to be expected. I’ve always thought that her mother was actually abusive, and Anita has sublimated it and reacts by hating women and thinking that violence is an acceptable reaction in any and all situations.

  3. I have a particularly special hate for this book. She set it in the Smokies. I *live* in the Smokies. Fuck’s sake, LKH, don’t drop this flaming shitbag on my doorstep.

  4. I’ve always assumed Damian was not his original name and he got it later, though in my Rule 63/Anthony Blake universe I named his female counterpart “Dagmar” since that’s from a region that Vikings actually came from and is derived from the Old Norse name “Dagmaer”

    “She” turns out to be the Moroven/Morovoren/Nemhain, fountainhead of the fear-vampire line. Except when Damian is one of the Belle Morte line like Jean-Claude instead. LKH forgets which Damian is.

    His former Viking-hood is just so fucking irrelevant to literally everything about him I have no idea why it’s even included except LKH thought it sounded cool to just drop in there and mention now and again but never actually have it be significant in any way. Because that might take actual thought, research, oh, and giving a character a real personality.

    “Coffee with cream” is a recurrent way that her black characters have described so she doesn’t have to say “light-skinned black person” and if they’re dark-skinned like Laila and Jamil she waffles around it because she’s one of those well-meaning people that think saying someone is black is rude…and doesn’t realize it’s much more offensive for a white person to seriously think that being black/Mexican/dark/whatever is an unspeakable insult you’re not meant to mention aloud out of politeness for the poor person suffering the unfortunate affliction of, gasp, not being white. Hence why Judith saying Anita had a Mexican mother is presented as the utmost pinnacle of hateful racism and insult. The particular choice of “coffee with cream” is also iffy since PoC, particularly black people, are usually described in books as food, usually something considered “decadent” and “bad for you” (chocolate, café au lait, etc.), while white characters tend to get things of value (ivory, alabaster, etc.) or food associated with “pureness” (cream, peaches and cream, strawberries and cream). It’s not to say you can never ever use food-colored description for a PoC person, but if you notice you’re relying SOLELY on food and never anything else, and you’re not having that problem with white characters, you need to maybe find some new adjectives. LKH definitely does, because “coffee with one cream” and “coffee with two creams” is pretty much all she’s got going in the way of describing someone who is a light skinned PoC, and she’s got absolutely zero except “dark” for other PoC, when she deigns to describe them at all to the degree she does many of her perfect white hotties.

    I have lived in the South all my life. I have also always lived in middle-class suburbs, but there are enough “rednecks” in my Dad’s family that I think I can speak on them, and I can tell you, they do not hate pretty people, nor fashionable people. My dad and his folks are certainly racist (though I think that plenty of nice Northern liberal folks are just as much so, simply in different ways and/or better at hiding it, like my Yankee mom who thinks black folks are so inspirational and musical and such) but they don’t particularly care how good-looking a black guy is in regards to how much they judge him. The way he dresses might play a part in it—if he wears urban hip-hop fashion then he’s a stupid ghetto thug, and if he dresses really-super-nicely then he’s an uppity snob and proof that black people are so vain and materialistic and the second they get any money they can’t wait to flash it around and spend it frivolously…but dressing in an ordinary-to-nice way, that really won’t make them think particularly worse of him.

    Honestly, I feel like middle-class pseudo-liberal non-rural people like LKH and Anita really, really enjoy the chance to look down at rednecks (or just Southern and/or rural folks in general, which they probably consider to all be rednecks anyway) as being “less enlightened” and just revel in how racist, sexist, and homophobic they can make them out to be. It gives them someone to point to and say “Look, see, I’m not like that!” and so they never have to examine their own behaviors and prejudices and opinions, because they’re not like those of these rednecks and therefore they can’t be bigots like these rednecks are. A false equivalency between education, class, etc. also seems to be set up between how intelligent and how non-bigoted one is with said middle-class pseudo-liberal non-Southerners, that blue-collar people with little formal education are all dumb and of course only dumb people are bigots, and since LKH/Anita went to college she’s not dumb and thus can’t be a bigot at all. It’s all just a classist way to feel superior to these people, and not any actual concern about racism/sexism/etc. at all.

    Sorry for the rant, but like I said, I’m Southern, and I will rant in rage all day about the racist shit that comes from my dad and his side of the family, but nothing quite burns my biscuits like the judgement and hypocrisy that comes from people like Anita here on “rednecks” either.

    • Rant away. The hypocrisy only gets worse. Burnt Offerings pissed me off for the liberal use of rape, but this book is rapidly shaping into ‘URGH DUMB REDNECKS LOLOLOLOLOL’ and I am not down with that.

    • LKH has the most absurdly ridiculous attitudes towards what she thinks is “enlightened” understanding of minorities, and in some ways, I was actually glad of it when I first found the series. When I was 19, mind you. Having a half-Mexican American, half white woman in a book (almost exactly the same muttly mix as me, except swap out German for Scandinavian) was amazing. Although some things she actually “gets,” whilst mostly, she’s just shitting all over.
      Like when she mentions in Obsidian Butterfly (which is the next book, and, not that it’s a high watermark, but it’s often argued to be the best in the series) that the Indian guy trying to flirt with her is actually pissed she can “pass.” And I know that feeling, because *I* can’t pass. I am thoroughly tan and brown like my mom, and I’ve been mistaken for my father’s girlfriend so many times it’s crap, and in Wisconsin, in a conservative farm community, I stand out like a beacon. In comparison to my boss’ son (with the same ethnic mix as me), who is 6 feet tall, pale, and so much like his dad that everyone assumed I was his mother’s daughter before they’d even so much as look at him. That? I got.
      But then she does stupid shit like the “coffee with cream” analogy, and I then want to punt her in the ass, because really? WHY ALWAYS FOOD. If it’s not an insult, it’s an attempt to colourize us by comparing us to food products. She doesn’t describe Anita as “fresh cream” or “milk from the cow” or some crap. Her idea of “ethnic” as it describes Anita is hilarious, because unless you’re tan or darker, quite a lot of people in this country assume you’re white. And it’s actually almost hypocritically hilarious, because there’s *plenty of white-skinned Mexicans and other Latinos.* (See: Alexis Bledel.) They’re the ones who descended more from the Spanish, inside of people like my family who were–and are–arguably mestizo. But, according to LKH, it’s her black hair that marks her. *headdesk*

      …yeah, I’m done now.

  5. In the new guy’s defense, Anita IS a total bitch.

    I’m just not sure why he’s listing that as a positive. Because I have written characters that were intended to be unlikable who ended up more likable than her.

  6. OK, I enjoy your blog and your opinions on the characters interest me, but it annoys me that you completely ignore some passages to make the characters to be even worse than they are.

    You go on a tangent about Anita slicing open Jamil’s arm. You completely ignore the fact that she talked for half a page about him holding onto her arm hard enough for it to hurt. If I had a knife and someone with supernatural strength was holding my arm and willing to break it at any moment, I would slice him as well.

  7. With Damien, it is pretty much confirmed in a later book -either Incubus Dreams or Danse Macabre- that his sire re-christened him, though we never learn what his original name was. Which always annoyed me, because that seems like a detail you might want to know instead of their poor fashion choices.

    I have nothing on the Castles. Authorial laziness strikes.

    The food metaphors and descriptors never go away. Sadly, LKH tends to reuse the same imagery over, and over, and over again. JC’s voice/looks are compared to rolling around in an original da Vinci/priceless work of art. PoC are spoken of in degrees of coffee. And whenever Anita has someone/thing she really, really likes she talks about how bad she wants to put him/it in her mouth and roll it on her tongue like candy.

    It’s like LKH has a checklist of ways to describe things and never deviates from the pattern. Which was the first thing I learned how not to do during writing class. I’m pretty sure her ‘editors’ are nothing more than glorified spell checkers.

    • Considering she drops manuscripts a month before deadline, and will not make changes, it must be a nightmare to edit her works thoroughly. They must just blitz through them and cry.

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