A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Narcissus in Chains’ chapter nine


Anita is in a vague dream state with her undefined illness. You know, Anita has been in medical trouble a few times before, why is she suddenly reacting so badly? A snakeman leapt on her, fine, but she was much more seriously injured in Obsidian Butterfly. Why is she nearly dying now? From a fall?

Anita sees Cherry, who looks much younger without makeup, so fuck you Cherry, and Gregory touches her face. What is with these people and their face touching? When you’re ill, the last thing you want is some dick coming in and rubbing his hands all over your face. It’s not helpful. She is also surrounded by naked people, who have formed on top of her like a giant slush pile.

It wasn’t sexual, or not overtly so.

I’m not sure whether ‘overtly’ is the right world for that context. It means ‘publicly’. And if you have to demand that it’s not sexual, then it is probably sexual. The lack of sexualness should be obvious – a better word for that sentence.

Anita wakes up in a dark room with lots of naked people on top of her. Yeah. That’s a big help to someone who’s dying. Let’s crush her or smother her!

The room was dark, with a small light near a wall like a child’s night-light. My night vision was good enough to be able to see colour by it.

Congrats to you. There’s a Sue trait; praise and adulation for a perfectly common skill or ability. I can see by a night-light. Not that I own one because I’m a fucking adult and I have a lamp. Anita is amazed by how safe and warm she feels by this, because LKH just wanted her character to get in a situation where she was surrounded by naked people, despite now ridiculous it is.

Even the sight of the arm around my waist from behind didn’t disturb me.

… I thought you were lying down. How exactly is Anita positioned in this slush pile?

The arm around my waist was muscled, definitely masculine, but small, not just the hand, but the whole arm.

So it might be a woman, then. Because women can be muscled too. Being muscled is not confined to gender. Anyway, it seems that she’s sandwiched between two shapeshifters, she’s high on ‘energy’, and she might have been given a cocktail of drugs.

My gaze traveled down my own body and found a ragged circle of pinkish scar tissue where the snake had dug for my heart.

Oh, that’s what happened? It’d have been nice to see it, instead of the fade to black. Anita thinks about how she’s not embarrassed, and details the looks of the man in front of her for a page before he wakes up. He’s new and called Caleb. He gets an erection, which is the clear problem with warming someone up with naked people and not heating pads or an electric blanket. Anita tries to get out of the sandwich and we learn the man behind her is ‘very happy to be pressed to my body. Eek!’.

Grown. Woman. Stiffy. Erection. Boner. Hard-on. You are not thirteen and this is not a YA book. This is for adults! Use adult language!

She is surprised that the man behind her doesn’t have the eyes of a wolf. It’s almost as if there are other creatures than werewolves. Like, I don’t know, swans, snakes, hyenas, leopards. The two men refuse to let Anita out and promise that they ‘don’t mean you any harm’.

Yeah, when a woman says she wants to get up and leave, creepy erection men, you let her fucking get up. The man behind here is Micah Callahan. We’ve briefly met Micah before (in my unfortunate review of Shutdown – god, I was such a fucking idiot when I did that) and all I know about Micah is that; he’s an even worse Sue than JC and is the focus of a rather infamous rape controversy, so famous in fact that LKH had to edit the paperback draft to make it seem less rapey. Yes, the fandom who ignored the rape of Anita in book six and the double rape in book eight were so angry that it had to be changed.

Anita, instead of reiterating her point about getting away, launches in a long description of Micah. I don’t like how Micah is described.

His shoulders were narrow, everything about him slender, almost feminine. But muscles showed under his skin even at rest, lean muscle, low bulk. You knew at a glance he was strong, but if he was wearing clothes, you might not see it. There were other things you wouldn’t see if he had his clothes on. And although the rest of him was slender, small, graceful in a way that women are graceful, parts of him were definitely not small, not slender. It seemed incongruous with the rest of him. As if mother nature had tried to make up for the feminine appearance by overcompensating in other areas.

I don’t understand LKH’s sexism. No, I do understand. She finds androgyny attractive but won’t admit it. She can’t admit to liking gender fluid people because it’s connected, in some part, to the gender she hates. She hates femininity so much that it is only worthwhile when connected to manly, manly men.

There’s nothing wrong with being attracted to the ‘feminine’, the androgynous, and the fluid. After all, you can look glam as fuck.

Caleb laughs at Anita and makes innuendos. Micah lets Anita get up and get dressed – boy, what a gentleman –  and she finds a dressing robe with a gun. This makes her happy. Micah says he is from the ‘Maneaters Clan’, lord what a stupid name, and says that Elizabeth invited him into Anita’s territory. You’re the worst leader, Anita. Anita gets angry and plans to kill Elizabeth. Elizabeth has asked Micah to come here and be the leader for the wereleopards, which is fair, considering how awful Anita is as a leader. That whole Gregory mess, anyone? Micah felt bad for infringing on Anita’s territory, so helped her heal by rubbing his naked body against hers. That must have been so trying.

He then goes on about how he’s a true wereleopard king, which is rare for undefined reasons. He can also heal wounds with touch, because he’s a total Gary Stu. What reason would there be for him to be able to instantly heal wounds with touch? I’m creating an alien story – just a writing experiment – and I have created a character who can heal people through touch. But there’s a fucking reason. His race go into a deep meditative state that lasts for thousands of years. This state is reached with a group of people, who commune in a circle. They have to be able to heal each other, otherwise they would die. There’s a reason. Why the fuck does one shapeshifter get the ability to heal people? Because it’s convenient. And a massive middle finger to the audience.

Another naked man, Merle, comes into the room at random. He’s got a big scar. Micah bids him to let Anita’s people into the room, as he’s already taken over her territory. Merle hates this, as he’s Micah’s bodyguard, and Anita insults him by using a werewolf term. As she’s an idiot. Anita actually asks for Cherry.

Frankly, it was just nice to see another woman.

Liar.

Micah announces his Stu powers and Cherry is instantly awed. Nathavile then comes in. Joy. Micah announces his gift, and Anita is confused at the idea of healing people with magic – even though THAT IS A POWER SHE HAS OVER ZOMBIES AND VAMPIRES HERSELF.

Cherry said, “It is possible.”

“You don’t sound like you believe him,” I said.

She gave a faint smile that left her eyes tired. “I don’t believe in much of anyone.” She smiled then. “Except you.”

Keep both hands on the keyboard, LKH.

Anita’s arm goes into a massive spasm, conveniently, and they blather about how she’s already been healed by the power of naked bodies. She must be naked again for Micah to heal her arm. The lights must be out because the healing might make her photosensitive.

Jesus H. Christ. What is this?

It takes four fucking pages to get to the healing and guess what, tee hee, Micah has to run his mouth and tongue over her body to heal her, and it has to be clarified, again, that this is totally not sexual. The healing takes place over two pages and is like sex. Anita suddenly has spontaneous stomach cramps and I laugh at her weakness.

I have severe IBS and sudden cramping is very common for me. I’m on medication for life. I laugh at her stomach cramps. When her glands swell and cut off the blood supply to her bowels – which is what happens with me, on top of the spasms which mean my intestines are grinding and trying to digest each other – then she can complain to me of stomach cramps.

They call for the doctor, and Anita’s mind goes to JC for some reason. Micah smells very young and some gate inside Anita swings open.

“What are you?” Micah asked, his voice a surprised whisper.

Huh. I guess it’s a complete coincidence that Bill Compton said the same words to Sookie Stackhouse in the first SVM book published a year before this one.  Anita realises that JC ‘gave [her] the keys to Micah’s soul’.

What the fuck does that even mean? Why did he do that?

Micah boasts of his powers and then wind runs through his hair like this is an eighties music video. Anita knows he is interested in teh sex and that he’s the same height as her. He pokes her with his boner. He is offering her power, even though SHE HAS A WHOLE AMOUNT Of MYSTICAL POWER ON HER OWN, INCLUDING THE SPECIAL MAGIC POWER HE HAS. Micah wants to know what Anita wants. She wants to drink his body fluids. She bites all over his body and drinks his blood. He cums on… well, they’re face to face, but his cum ends up on her breasts. Through magic, I suppose.

What the frig have I just read?

Oh, and people can’t really drink huge amounts of blood without getting sick. Well, not without practice. So just picture Anita breaking off to projectile vomit after this.

Guh. I’m going to eat some fries and melt. (It’s pretty hot in the UK right now)

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11 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Narcissus in Chains’ chapter nine

    • This chapter was literally characters standing around while two Sues fall in Twu Luv. I’ve read it a hundred thousand times in bad fanfic – but most of those were written by preteen girls. This was written by a grown woman. Her writing should be improving with time, not getting worse!

      Ps I have a candy floss machine.

      • It took me like two hours to wade through that crap. I don’t really object to the subject matter but the way it’s written is a study in all that is wrong with urban fantasy.

        Seriously? A candy floss machine? That’s so rad.

      • It needed a lot of editing. With a red and a green pen. The whole healing thing just took forever.

        I haven’t used it in a while but it’s really fun!

  1. ……….And my euphoria from Godzilla is dampened a bit from reading Anita standing around, doing nothing and exclaiming that she super awesome night vision after a glancing at a night light? And a pile of nekkid people surround her because…reasons. Eh, still too happy to even be mad at this.

  2. It always bugs me how she assures us something isn’t sexual, because that just makes it seem more sexual!

    So he’s feminine except he’s totally not???

    I hate the whole “true” leopard king and queen thing. It’s something that one automatically is (and, of course, Anita ends up being one—I don’t consider that a spoiler, you had to see it coming) and not something earned. You could be the best, most competent leader in the whole damn world but apparently Micah and Anita were just born “true” rulers and that makes them best at it no matter how shitty a job they do. Seriously, every other shifter group we’ve seen has a leader that has to earn or compete for their place, and the leopards usually do too, but with Micah and Anita, suddenly that’s all out the window and They Just Are. Surprise surprise, that’ll be the case with Anita and any other wereanimal group she likes too as the series goes on.

    I think she says the “nice to see another women” bit just to remind us how she’s surrounded by men. She does that in other situations too, like with the police or the gym.

    • The ‘nice to see another woman’ bit is followed by Anita saying how she hates to see other women because she likes to be the token woman. God, I hate her.

      Micah and Anita are King and Queen Sue. I HATE THEM SO MUCH.

  3. Oh, Micah.

    I remember reading the next (unedited) chapter, after I had bought the hardcover about a week or so after it came out. And then I recall my eye twitching, just a little, and wondering “did I seriously just read that?” I’m pretty sure it was around that point I began to truly question my interest in the series; not surprisingly, I bought Cerulean Sins when it came out, finished it, and went “yep, I’m done.” Between this book and CS, I gave up.

  4. I may have just worked out where the leopards get the names of their clans from. They all sound suspiciously like the names of the giants in Roald Dahl’s BFG!

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