Narcissus In Chains
by Laurell K Hamilton, fantasy (2001)
Berkley, $22.95, ISBN 0-425-18168-5

Narcissus's in chains and I'm in pain.

Sorry, I can't resist that. This latest entry in the already zonked-out, wrung-dry, and probably beyond-SOS Anita Blake series is all about sex. Now, if I have paid hardcover for an erotica, fine, even if Narcissus In Chains is lurid, clumsy erotica. But I paid good money for action-horror drama, not this... this... mediocre soap opera. Just imagine The Little Shop Of Horrors on an LSD overdose and there you have it - Narcissus In Chains.

The story? Well, I can say something about evil humans or some nasty beasties terrorizing werebeasties, but apparently nobody is supposed to care. Laurell K Hamilton sure doesn't. The entire story is basically "Who shall Anita Blake sleep with today?" with some slap-bloody and pinch-tickle-me-bruised fun thrown in. And bad news for people who think that Jean "Ma Petite, Ma Chere, Ma Petit, Ma Chere, Are You Vomiting Yet?" Claude a pretentious Ziggy Stardust post-lobotomy clone. There are two Ziggies here, counting one wereleopard Micah who is supposed to be Anita's new groupie. Anita is shaping up to be the faghag of the century. I wonder how many webbed tighties and mascaras will have to die for this effeminate Micah twerp. One thing's for sure, there is never this much garish eyesore in the landscape since RuPaul faded into obscurity.

Good news though: Richard the whiny wolf-bitch is pretty much out of the picture, I think. Good riddance. There is never a romance story that so resembles a sleeping pill since Phoebe "Vacant Upstairs All The Time In Milano Motel" Halliwell fell for Cole "Oh, Come On, Her? Shag Me Instead, Julian McMahon!" Turner on Charmed. Bye, bye. Although his parting gift to Anita, some ardeur thing which is... oh stuff it, does anybody care? Ardeur is just as an excuse for having lots of boyfriends, which is something Anita is doing with style.

Poor Jean-Claude. Okay, he is annoying, but he doesn't deserve this, you know. I'm talking about this undignified role he is reduced to: playing Anita Blake's agony aunt. It's like your roue palsy-stricken Uncle Fester giving you sex advice. Creepy.

And Anita? What the freaking hell happened to her? Forget vulnerability or strength - now all she wants is sex. Now every guy in this story just wants to have sex with her. It's so tired and boring. What happened to drama? Action? Horror? Intrigue?

Anybody home in Hamilton Havana?

At least in the early books, there is a story, an external conflict, where there is a purpose, a mission, a focus. Now all there is is this clumsy, repetitious who-shall-she-sleep-with-today nonsense. Ms Hamilton obviously believes that readers who are hooked on a strong heroine kicking demonic ass is now the same readers who don't care about credible action, character development, anything - apparently we are now drooling groupies just waiting for that moment when we can orgasm simultaneously with Anita as she travels the world, a sad, sad person, trying to find the right man.

Yes, it's true. Anita Blake is now the new Ally McBeal. Be very afraid, be very VERY afraid. Edward! Come back, my darling psycho. You - and your firepower - is so dearly missed in this dreary mess of bad make-up, coked-up non-stop whine and BDSM brainsuck abyss.

Rating: 45

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