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Serpentine Review, with Spoilers FYI

Hi all, and thanks for joining me for yet another sporadic, chaotic blog post, on this All Hallows Eve. As it turns out, this one is a review, though I promise, just of one book this time. I did recently finish ‘PS I Still Love You’ by Jenny Han, but it doesn’t feel right for a review right now.

Yeah, I know, last time I reviewed two, but honestly, that’s probably a bad call on my part. Especially with how tired I am. I’ll probably merge the books and end up with some bastardised version of a young adult romance blended with murder and hardcore sex. So… let’s skip that, shall we?

Side note on why I’m tired: I’ve recently (in the last month) picked up a new job, which is shift work, while holding onto my old job part time. I’d go into how many hours I work a week as a result but I dun wanna depress myself so let’s just say, I work a lot, scrounge my reading time, and am sucking at the writing thing right now. Okay? Okay.

Back to the review.

It’s for Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Serpentine’, the 26th book in the Anita Blake series, containing many #Spoilers, so here’s your warning right now. And honestly, props to Hamilton for having a series like Anita’s that has gone so long. There have been moments where Anita frustrated the hell out of me for many reasons; her development, her judgemental attitude, her criticisms. Yet I think back to how she started, and then look at where she is now as a character, and I think it’s fantastic. Character development for the win.

Straight off the bat for me, #Serpentine felt shorter than all the others. Downside was, I read it as an e-book (don’t look at me like that, I buy physical copies when I can) and so I lost the feeling of size and font for the book, but I still managed to get this one done and dusted in a few days around work. In the book, I’m fairly sure that not more than a few days pass between the first page and the last page, so it just felt like… not enough Anita time. I wanted more of her and her poly fam.

The endings are normally abrupt - I’ve gotten used to his over the past few books, so it no longer takes me by surprise when all the action happens in the very last chapter, and the epilogue sort of sums up the rest. If that’s something that bothers you… I dunno. Deal with it? I have. Worth it for the rest of the story.

I was really happy to get so much more Edward in my story. I /love/ Edward. Though it’s something he as a character would undoubtedly hate, I wish he’d be turned into a lycanthrope or a vampire or /something/, just so I know he’s not going to surrender to old age and die in future books. I don’t wanna lose him!

His relationship with Donna still amuses at times, but I was honestly a little relieved to see more of his old self in this book and ‘not’ taking all of Donna’s shit. He had to stand firm a few times, even if it meant jeopardizing the future he’d been angling toward. So huzzah on that. I like seeing the winter eyes and the #Death stare return.

Speaking of #Death, it was nice to see the four horsemen reunited, even if Olaf is creepy AF and his desire for Anita something wholly fucked up. I mean, he still wants her even knowing she could make him her animal to call, and he doesn’t want that, so he’s got some issues. On top of the whole… killing and raping women thing. Yeah, like he needed more on top of that… But that actually raises a good point for me about the novel. Normally, Anita’s animals make a decision and wham-bam-supernaturally-linked-mam, it’s over. She has a new animal to call. Not this time. Anita maintained a firm grip on her Lioness and told her ‘no’.

And frankly, good call.

The idea of being metaphysically linked to Olaf of all people, seeing inside his twisted little mind or feeling his lack of feeling and empathy… that’d be pretty fucked up.

Segwaying from the creepy side of the horsemen, I was pleased to see Bernardo got a little more page time for this book, and not just as the pretty womaniser he normally appears. Yes, there was flirting, and yes, there was the acknowledgment that he’s very fuckable, but giving him personality and backstory with Denny was excellent. And also let Hamilton sneak in a great lesson about the fact people can be asexual, polyamorous or just heterosexual and still figure themselves out. Really made me like Bernardo a whole lot more.

Anita’s focus on Nathaniel and his safety edged toward an almost parental concern in this book, but I could be off there. I have no kids, after all, just cats. I mean… she sort of has cats… in a way…

Moving on.

This is the first novel of Hamilton’s where I wondered if trigger warnings are ever necessary for books. I already noted spoiler warnings at the start of this review, so hopefully y’all have noticed it before this point, but this novel made a point of mentioning Nathaniel’s traumatic childhood of sexual abuse, and had a pedophile as the villain. Just made me wonder, is all. No skin off my nose either way, as I am well aware the Anita Blake books are rife with sex and violence. What do you guys think?

I hope Anita holds out on the kid thing. Probably just because it resonates with me a lot, not wanting children of my own, but if Anita doesn’t want to have kids then she shouldn’t. End of story. Sort of. Jean Claude and Nathaniel probably have enough money to look at surrogates and in vitro, so putting all their kid hopes on tiny Anita is a little unfair. Stay strong honey! You don’t need to have children if you don’t wanna!

There’s a catch with books that involve SO many characters. On the one hand, I was pleased to see more of Ru and Rodina after their last book introduction and everything they did, but I also was shocked at how little I got of Jean Claude, who I feel has been very absent from the last two books. He’s marrying our heroine and we get barely a few chapters with him. It also occurred to me that Richard was noticeably absent. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Richard used to piss me off so much that I’m now pretty prejudiced against him, but he is still an important part as the third in their triumvirate of power, so damn, I think I wanna know what the pup is doing with his life.

So at the end of the book, I enjoyed it. There’s just a lot that goes into them of late. Mystery, adventure, action, sex, lovers, emotions, choices. And I think I gravitate back to Anita because… she lives the life I wish I could. No, not lycanthropes and vampires in my bed (though I’m not exactly going to say ‘no’ to that if the opportunity arises…) but having a poly group that loves her and she loves them and there’s just… freedom. Enjoyment. An openness to sexual preferences that’s refreshing.

Probably tells you a lot more about my interests than I intended, but hey, I’m pretty sure no one really reads these so I’m gonna say just about whatever I want. #Huzzah

So all in all, really enjoyed Serpentine, probably more than some of the other recent Anita Blake books. It delivered for me.

Now on to Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh. A world I’m ALWAYS excited to return to.

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