Ever have a book that gripped you so hard that it sucked you right into the author’s world and your own faded away? That’s what Crimson Death did to me. I only did the bare minimum of household chores. I read late into the night until it flipped to morning, grabbed a few hours of sleep only to wake up a few hours later to devour a few more chapters before having to slog off to work to simply come home to read and read some more until almost midnight the next night. Yeah, so, it took me two days to read, but what an amazing two days it was.
I’ve been following this series for years. I’ve watched Anita view everything as black and white; a character was either good or bad, no quarter. Monsters were bad, humans could be bad too but they were human. As the series unfolds, the heroine realizes that she can no longer ignore the ‘gray’ areas; life is a LOT more complicated, and messy and as she grows, Anita realizes that gray areas not only exist, they’re huge. It opens her up to accepting and doing things she never, ever, in a million years would think or do. Following her has been an amazing journey and that journey continues in Crimson Death. Sure, there are original fans that prefer her early years when it was all about the mystery, the horror, the suspense, drama and how it affected her. I mean, first person point of view really gets into a character’s head and the author has the daunting job of staying there. Ms. Hamilton has done Anita for so long, it seems second nature – I’m always right there with Marshall Blake, even when the blood flows.
This huge novel is no different when it comes to exploring her growth, both in her personal life and in her power. Yes, there is large section that explores Anita’s power’s connection to sex within her small group of loves and lovers, but before anyone scoffs at all the sex, be aware that there are a few astounding and earth shattering revelations that ripple through the rest of the novel stemming from all that erotic sex, which includes just a smidgen of voyeurism and exhibitionism from one of mine and Anita’s favorite people. Another warning to die-hard fans – be prepared to sniffle or cry or just get serious goosebumps on what happens. The one huge tragedy that affected me the most ends up being a turning point in Anita’s life that will have ginormous ramifications for future books. I didn’t want it to happen. All I could say was ‘no! no! no!, but of course Ms. Hamilton excels at writing the hard scenes – scenes for which a reader ultimately comes to the sad but resigned conclusion that it served a valid, crucial and necessary purpose. I don’t have to like it but I recognize Ms. Hamilton is staying true to Anita’s journey.
A lot of my favorite recurring secondary/primary characters populate this novel. There is one new character that sheds some light on Edward/Ted. It was actually humorous at times, which I didn’t expect at all. I think Anita was just as bemused as I was. Thing is, she has the ability to pester him in future books to satisfy her curiosity. I’m looking forward to what she finds out.
Of course the main villain and cohorts are truly evil, nasty, horrific, sociopathic and creepy. However, not all the cohorts are there willingly and how the author dealt with them kept my heart pounding with dread. This is such a powerfully, well written book, I could not remain unaffected.
This isn’t truly a standalone read because some of the things that occur are at their most commanding and powerful if a reader is personally vested in caring for certain characters from previous stories. If a person were to just start with this book, there are mentions of past experiences that provide Anita with the power she currently has, and they might be shocked by how erotic and numerous the sex initially is, but the main mystery of trying to figure out who or what is making all these vampires and why, can carry this novel by itself. It also might capture new fans and they might be inspired to read the series from the beginning or at least a few of the books that were alluded to in this one.
I am a fan of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, and I highly recommend this novel to fans that’ve followed her all this time. Crimson Death wowed me to the point that writing this review was a compulsion. I just HAD to tell you how marvelous and incredible Crimson Death was, and recommend it to readers with high praise and accolades.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.