Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mistral's Kiss

If I had to point a finger, I would say Hamilton was the biggest forerunner in the blooming Urban Fantasy subgenre as it is today. There are variations out there on what people call UF, but the largest emerging trends in the genre include:
• First person, smart ass, female characters who kick butt. (there are several great UFs from the male pov, but the majority seems to be female)
• Modern or futuristic-modern settings
• Some preternatural or supernatural characters/occurrences

Hamilton may not have been the first to combine these things, but on my bookshelf, Anita Blake was one of a kind for years. Hamiltion’s work definitely has had an effect on my own reading and writing habits. I read only high fantasy before I stumbled on her books, anything remotely modern was an instant deal breaker. (Boy how that has changed…) I think I picked up my first Anita Blake book when I was 14 or 15. I quickly grabbed up everything that was out thus far, and since then have picked up the new novels the morning they hit stores. I remember this one time in college, I went to the bookstore before my first class, but I had a test that afternoon and I knew I’d miss class if I started reading. I carried the book in my bag until after the test. I don’t even think I bothered driving home; I just scurried to my studio (on campus) and stayed there (all night) until I had read the book cover to cover.

I guess I’m a little bit of a fangirl. And this devotion (and habit) makes it difficult to judge her novels the same way I do most books I pick up because I am both an avid fan and judging it on the merit of the whole series. I was disappointed with the last Anita book though (Danse Macabre) I usually try not to say anything bad about books online, and only mention the ones I would recommend, so this post may disappear. But as I was saying, I was sorely disappointed with DM, the plot was flimsy at best and (what I feel is) one of the staples of the Anita books was missing, a murder mystery. I really felt 90% of the book was sex, and I’m someone who usually only skims sex scenes to start with. I also wasn’t thrilled with Incubus Dreams (though it was much better than DM) so, I promised myself I wouldn’t rush out and buy the next book the day it hit the shelves.

So, I rented Mistral’s Kiss from the local library. (And I’m obsessive enough to have been waiting for them to put it in the catalogue as ‘on order’ so I was 2nd in a reservation queue of 50 or so) I’m more lenient in accepting all the sex and random partners that Merry (the main character in this series) has than I am with Anita. I’m not sure if it is because this series started that way, or because the sex seems to have more plot following on its coat tails. MK is very short, (only 212) but stuff happens and things are accomplished. (Though I’m annoyed that the characters still haven’t made it to the event they were planning on going to in the second book and this is the fifth. I think maybe 1 full day and a night has passed in the last three books.) But, I closed the book and actually felt like something happened within it’s pages… though I could have wished for more. (Well, I almost always want more at the end of a book in a series, that’s what makes people buy the next one, but what I mean is I wanted a little more meat.) I enjoyed the read though.

The jury is still out on whether I will go out and buy the book now, or wait for the paperback. If I wait for paper, it will be the only book of hers (except Nightseer and Micah) that I don’t own in hardcover. The collector in me wars with the dirt-broke part of me, and I’m at the point I don’t think I can honestly judge Hamiliton’s books (the fan in me wants them all to be masterpieces.)


Rachel Vincent said...

Wow, you've summed up many, many of my own thoughts in this post. I won't review a book I didn't like either, though I will mention books I haven't read yet on my blog, with the appropriate disclaimer.

My UF reading started with Hamilton too, back when she only had two AB books out. I have them all, except for MK, which I wasn't planning to buy until I read this. I might now.

My problem with the recent turn of the AB books (and like you, I don't mind it so much with Merry, because we were set up for it from the beginning with her) is NOT the sexual content, though that did throw me at first, because I tend to skim those scenes too. My problem is the lack of plot. Of actual, non-emotional, non-physic link, non-political plotlines. I want Anita to go back to work.

But they're not my books, and I stand by an author's right to write her books however she wants.

All that said, I have heard Ms. Hamilton speak several times, and will probably hear her two more times this year. If you ever get the chance (assuming you haven't already), definitely go. She's an entertainer, both on the page and in person. She's funny, smart, predictably sarcastic, and a regular riot. Every time I hear her, I just have to buy the next book. No matter what.

Sigh. Thanks for giving me something to think about!

Kalayna-Nicole Price said...

Hmmm, I would call MK more of a bridge than a book. Two or three important things happen in it, but really there isn't a plot arch. Things happen and are reacted to but besides storyline we know from previous books, there is no major goal for this particular book. But, I'm hoping it is leading up to a very good next book because of the way it ended. Honestly though, I think MK could have been tacked onto the book before it and the resulting book would have been stronger than it is separately.