I started Skin Trade with high hopes. The last Merry Gentry book, Swallowing Darkness, was high on plot and low on sex scenes that didn’t advance character development or plot. Skin Trade also started like a redux of Obsidian Butterfly, sending Anita away from her harem to hunt monsters with Edward. While everyone did seem unnaturally preoccupied with Anita’s love life, the first two-thirds or so were surprisingly devoid of any actual sex. – DO NOT READ REVIEW UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SPOILED –This wasn’t a great book, but far more solid than the rest of the Anita Blake books have been lately. And then it all went downhill. For those who want to read the book, I’m going to give away the entire ending. Why? Because I want to explain why I think it makes the book not worth reading. If you want to read the book no matter what, feel free to skip this review. If you have already read the book or want to know why I was pissed off when I was finished, feel free to continue. (you were warned about the spoilers yes?)
Let’s start with the plot problems. Laurell K. Hamilton has been building up to a confrontation between Anita and Marmee Noir for books. I don’t remember how many, but for several the plot has stopped dead for the Mother of All Darkness to try to take over Anita/get her to sex someone up/etc. and have everyone talk about what a badass she is. So how does their final confrontation go? They chat on the astral plane, unnamed assassins destroy her physical body, Marmee Noir disappears. Anita does fuck all to get rid of her.
But now we need a bad guy! Why not turn serial killer Vittorio into her counterpart, who has been bound by her and forgotten? There’s nothing like an all-powerful foe no one’s ever heard of! But how will Anita get rid of him? What will be really badass since the confrontation with Marmee Noir didn’t happen? What if she uses . . . the power of ORGASM? You see, the ardeur is an important plot point, not an excuse for pr0n! LKH is a great author.
And you know, that’s not even why I hated the book. I could’ve dealt with that – it tied off several plot points and provided Skin Trade with a self-contained story. Not the world’s best, but somewhat entertaining. And a disappointing climax would be better than the absolute lack of climax (well, plot climax) some of the Anita Blake books have had.
ANITA MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY RAPES A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD. Don’t say it wasn’t rape; the kid had no way to give informed, rational consent. That’s rape. And so what if Anita is skeeved out that the kid is sixteen, which shows how much better she is than the characters who aren’t? (Although I’m not sure she even angsts about him for half a page before moving on in a series that devotes chapters to angst.) It’s the fact that LKH felt it necessary to put it in the book. It wouldn’t have affected the book if the character hadn’t existed, much less been aged up. And it’s doubly creepy since LKH is proven to have drawn on her own life for some of Anita’s sweeties and what happens to them. Yes, I do find it more disturbing since Anita is a self-insert Mary-Sue rather than a well-rounded character.
But I kind of want to thank LKH for having Anita rape a sixteen year old. I can finally give this series up. (Let’s just hope she doesn’t do something similarly awful to the Merry Gentry books.)
When a vampire serial killer sends Anita Blake a grisly souvenir from Las Vegas, she has to warn Sin City’s local authorities what they’re dealing with. Only it’s worse than she thought. Ten officers and one executioner have been slain—paranormal style. Anita heads to Vegas, where’s she’s joined by three other federal marshals, including the ruthless Edward. It’s a good thing he always has her back, because when she gets close to the bodies, Anita senses “tiger” too strongly to ignore it. The weretigers are very powerful in Las Vegas, which means the odds of her rubbing someone important the wrong way just got a lot higher.
Read an excerpt here.
Other books in the series: