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


A short story of mine has been published in a YA anthology! If you buy a copy, you will help keep this site up and running, my faith in my writing skills, and me alive. So don’t delay, buy one today!

One of the major problems regarding the ongoing rape problem in the Anita Blake books is generational, I think. LKH was born in 1963, and grew up in an age when rape was a specific evil act. It was something done by wicked men in dark alleys or as a war crime. It wasn’t done between people with a romantic interest in each other – if women complained afterwards, it was sour grapes. It wasn’t rape if you enjoyed it – then it was just unexpected sex. Date rape wasn’t a thing, and only the worst of women were raped or spoke up about it.

The problem is that this is not the 1970s or the 1980s. This book was published in 2002. While there is still a prevalent rape culture in society, it is no longer acceptable to have the old Scarlett O’Hara ‘well, I enjoyed the rape so that made it okay!’ trope. But LKH doesn’t seem to understand that. That is why she doesn’t have the multi-million dollar adaptations of her work. That’s why I doubt her work will be remembered after she finishes writing. Her work is dated – already – and offensive to modern audiences. It will not last and it will not be remembered.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me very happy. Ha!

So, the review.

Nathaniel drove because I was too shaky to concentrate.

Oh, I wonder why. Sorry, that did sound a bit victim-blamey, but it was more author-blamey. Anita is sat down, entirely traumatised out of her mind. She takes the time to notice how pretty Nathaniel is. Can’t forget to tell us all how amazingly handsome all the men are – although I find that they all look the exact same. That’s not sexy.

Nathaniel wore a ribbed tank top and silky jogging shorts. He’d tied his nearly ankle length hair in a loose braid that curled onto the seat beside his thigh. He’d founds that if he let his hair fall onto the floorboard, sometimes it tangled around the pedals. He had to watch the gear shift between the seats, too. I’d never had hair that long.

NO ONE HAS HAIR THAT LONG. (well, there must be some people, but allow me to be hyperbolic). HAIR THAT LONG IS STUPID AND IMPRACTICAL. IF YOUR FUCKING HAIR BRAID GETS CAUGHT ON THE FUCKING GEAR STICK, THEN YOUR HAIR IS TOO FUCKING LONG.

Anyway, Anita breaks from the plot to tell us how Nathaniel was so abused he wasn’t allowed to have a driver’s license but she forced him to get one. Yes, that’s the way to help someone who was abused. Abuse them some more. He brought her clothes and a pile of weapons. He tries to find out what happened but Anita is not in the mood for talking. Now, a good author would have Nathaniel try to relate to Anita through what happened to him, and to try and help her through their shared pain. But, pfft, like Nathaniel cares.

They arrive at RPIT headquarters and a random new detective is introduced. Detective Token. He is understandably shocked that Anita is alive and is visibly spooked.

Um, why do they think she’s dead? Her unconscious body was taken off by her friends. She wasn’t taken to a hospital or the morgue. There hasn’t been an announcement of her death. Weren’t RPIT suspicious when all the shapeshifters suddenly went underground?

Another thought – did anyone talk to her family about this?

Anita goes in and engages in cliché.

“The rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Fuck off with your misquote of Mark Twain.

The other RPIT officers are… not shocked at all. They’re sort of ‘meh’ about it and Anita wonders whether Detective Token is religious. Of course, the ONE black guy on the team is the incredibly religious one. Zerbrowski comes over and points out that Anita lost soooo much blood. And what, you never fucking called a doctor? Or contacted a hospital? Or a morgue? YOU ARE TERRIBLE POLICE OFFICERS. Anita then asks for a JC to go and Zerbrowski just nods and lets her have at it.

YOU ARE A TERRIBLE POLICE OFFICER.

Anita goes through to see Dolph, leaving Nathaniel with the single female RPIT officer. She doesn’t deserve a name, it would seem.

His eyes were very careful when they looked at me. “I’m glad you’re alive.”

So glad that you didn’t contact her family, her friends, the morgue, the hospital… you didn’t even give it a second fucking thought, dickwad. These characters just freeze when Anita isn’t in the scene. They have no life outside of her. Anita asks for her JC to go, right away.

“Jean-Claude has a damn fine lawyer. How’d you keep him for over seventy-two hours without a charge?” I asked.

With magic and pixie dust, it would seem. A good lawyer would point out that THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE FOR HER DEATH.

“You’re a city treasure. I told everyone he’d killed you, and they helped me lose him for a while.”

DID NO ONE QUESTION WHERE THE FUCK HER BODY WENT? WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE SO STUPID?

Dolph asks who hurt her, because he managed to miss THE PARALYSED SNAKE MEN IN THE CLUB. GAH.

Dolph then demands to see ALL of Anita’s scars, just so Anita can look so badass about how hurt and injured she always gets. If you’re always getting hurt or injured, then you’re terrible at your fucking job. Surely the city would see Anita’s exorbitant medical bills and hire a different vampire hunter? Wouldn’t a specialised SWAT team be a better idea? Anita shows off the scar over her heart, getting her tits out in the process. There’s no other way to show your chest without getting your nips out. Zerbrowski comes in and leers at her, letting her know the order of vampire, no fries, is ready.

Dolph then demands she get a blood test. Even though he doesn’t know a shapeshifter attacked her. Huh. It’s like the author knew, so that means all the characters know them instantly! Anita then realises that, gasp, Dolph wants to arrest JC and have him executed!

Didn’t you already know that? Dolph told you the last time he was in a book. God, Anita, you’re so slow.

I would argue that Dolph has plenty of justification for his prejudice, considering the awful, heinous things vampires get up to. Anita decides to insult him instead. Zerbrowski escorts Anita out, and the pass the noted-never-before-mentioned bounty hunter Orlando King. RPIT are so incompetent they drafted him in to help get JC convicted. That’s right – they needed outside help to have it pointed out that THERE WAS NO FUCKING EVIDENCE. King flatters Anita’s scars and her looks. He asks to meet up with her to talk shop.

Nathaniel is talking to Detective Jessica Arnet who is captivated by him.

Nathaniel was a good listener. That’s rare enough in men for it to be a bigger selling point than an attractive body.

Ahaha hahaha, gender stereotypes! Fun for all the family.

Nathaniel is flirting massively with Detective Jessica and Anita comments that he knows he has an effect on women but also is not aware of it. I don’t buy that. It just adds more to my headcanon that Nathaniel is just a master manipulator, getting through life by leeching off others. She talks to him like a child and they go through to greet JC. His shirt is stained and torn because…. vampires sweat. I got nothing.

She runs up to him and he strokes her face. Why is everyone always touching each others faces? Zerbrowski stares because surely this is the greatest love that every loved. He also exposits that Orlando King – who, if you remember, Anita knew about completely and had met before – used to think all ‘nonhumans’ should be executed for existing and now he has had a sudden backtrack in opinion.

I think that was the sound of a plot point.

Also, Anita should FUCKING know this. She shouldn’t have to be told! She knows Orlando King and has studied his work. You said this a page ago!

Zerbrowski has been greatly affected by the greatest love that ever loved and will try to calm Dolph down. He tells JC to look after Anita and he promises to ‘take care of her as much as she allows it’. They all laugh, like this is a sitcom or something.

No one does that. No one behaves like that.

Man, I wish Zerbrowski suddenly morphed and became Mystique. Who then killed everyone. While being fucking awesome.

hmmmm if you need fic ideas RF 😉

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

  1. Congrats on publishing! SO MUCH CONGRATS!

    Anita being too shakey to drive and yet it being blamed on something other than THE FACT SHE WAS JUST RAPED is yet another thing that makes me boggle on how LKH can write very realistic rape and rape trauma and NOT KNOW SHE’S DOING IT WTF

    Hair that long is probably not healthy and pretty either. After a certain point, it’s gotta be nothing but split ends. I have hair almost to my waist and that’s a real problem. I certainly would love it to be longer because I think it’s very pretty, but if I actually got my wish, realistically it would not look as good as it does in my head…or in LKH’s.

    The idea that Anita is actually going about trying to help Nathaniel in a completely wrong way is actually touched on a little later—basically, he only starts “improving” because it’s what she wants, turns out—and I thought that was a very interesting turn to take. Unfortunately it just kinda gets dropped and forgotten. In a better series, I’d love to have seen how that played out, with Anita genuinely wanting to help Nathaniel but not having any idea how to go about it the right way and just becoming one more person that forces him to do things he doesn’t want, and he obeys because that’s what he’s used to, and she thinks she’s helping him but she’s not, and then she finds out the damage she’s done and jfdfjfsk it’d be a really good character arc to span over a few books. And again, LKH tried. But she wanted Anita to bone Nathaniel more than anything else so fuck that, literally.

    We learn later that Clive Perry’s grandmother was a Voodoo priestess and that’s why he’s unnerved by zombie-raising Anita. Because his grandma just must have been evil because Voodoo is evil, and all about raising zombies *eyeroll* If I recall right, Clive is also in possession of red hair and green eyes. Not that people of African descent can’t have those, just that, like the light-skinned straight-haired grey-eyed Vivian the wereleopard, it says something that the only black people who are “good” are the ones who could almost pass for white (there’s also Jamil, granted, but he’s the one who is emphasized as “dangerous”—come to think of it, he’s also the only one with a “black” name, whaddya know)I

    Nathaniel makes his living as a sex worker and stripper. His entire career is based on having an “effect” on people. You cannot pull this “so hot but doesn’t know it” bullshit with him. With Anita, it’s still TECHNICALLY possible, annoying as it is, but not here.

    AHAHAHA THAT WOULD BE AN AWESOME FIC INDEED

  2. You’d think that, being born more or less in the midst of the Civil Rights movement in the US, LKH would be a lot more aware of a lot of the more skeevy stuff in her writing, even if only peripherally. And yet somehow she seems to manage to miss all of it.

    Also, congrats on getting published!

      • Not just racist, but a whole lot of other “-ists” as well. Like, I’m sure LKH/her fans would say these books aren’t sexist/misogynist because Anita is a woman, despite how she shows active disdain for anything feminine and insults/belittles just about every other female character.

      • I hate that argument. It makes my blood boil.

        There’s a Goodreads Q&A coming up and I am so tempted to ask her outright what’s the deal with all this shit. But I know no good would come of it, and I don’t want to upset people who do like the books. It’d just be trolling for the sake of it, and that’s a bit unfair.

  3. I hate recognizing the fact that there are so many damn people still living in this country who think like LKH does, and that’s including our politicians who think women’s bodies can somehow “reject” rape sperm, and pregnancy not occurring from “legitimate rape.” FFS, that poor girl from Missouri has gone through two years of trying to get her rapists convicted of *something* after the prosecutor dropped the case. She and her family had to move because the entire town basically descended upon them and called the girl a whore, told her she should kill herself, and basically had the same attitude Anita has towards victims: she wanted it, she asked for it, so it’s her fault.

    And a lot of them were her classmates. Unfortunately this mentality isn’t going anyway anytime soon.

    • The latest mass shooting was a sobering reminder of how the patriarchy and rape culture do nothing but hurt women and countless generations of women to come.

      We just have to fight against the tide, keep strong and try to make the world a better place in some way. /off soapbox

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