Hamilton, Laurell K.
Hamilton, Laurell K.
Born in Heber Springs, AR; daughter of Suzie Kline; married; children: one daughter. Education: Holds degree in English.
Nightseer, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Nightshade ("Star Trek, the Next Generation" series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Death of a Darklord ("Ravenloft" series), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1995.
Strange Candy (short stories), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2006.
"ANITA BLAKE, VAMPIRE HUNTER" SERIES
Guilty Pleasures Ace Books (New York, NY), 1993.
The Laughing Corpse, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Circus of the Damned, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Lunatic Café, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Bloody Bones, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Killing Dance, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1997, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Burnt Offerings, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Blue Moon, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Obsidian Butterfly, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Narcissus in Chains, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Cerulean Sins, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Incubus Dreams, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Micah, Penguin (New York, NY), 2006.
Danse Macabre, Penguin (New York, NY), 2006.
"MEREDITH GENTRY" SERIES
A Kiss of Shadows, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2000.
A Caress of Twilight, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Seduced by Moonlight, Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.
A Stroke of Midnight, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Mistral's Kiss, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies, including Cravings, Jove Books (New York, NY), 2004; and Bite, Jove Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Guilty Pleasures has been adapted as a graphic novel by Marvel/Dabel Brothers.
Laurell K. Hamilton's novels bridge the genres of science-fiction, mystery, and horror. She writes about vampires, elves, private eyes, magi, and sentient trees, and has been rewarded with one of the highest compliments for such a writer: numerous reviewers have praised her writing and the worlds that she has imagined as being convincing and rich.
Hamilton's first novel, Nightseer, sets the tone for her entire body of work, laying out a world where the existence of magic, demons, and other supernatural phenomena are taken as ordinary. The story itself recounts the adventures of Keleios, described by one reviewer as "a grown woman, master enchanter, prophetic dreamer, and experienced demon fighter, herself tainted with a touch of demonic evil." After discovering a latent ability in sorcery, Keleios is (humiliatingly) sent back to school to learn to control these powers. This return to education is hardly smooth, though, and soon Keleios is embroiled in a fierce struggle against a witch with a vendetta against Keleios and her family. The plot deepens when the school itself becomes the target of political revenge by marauding demons. Keleios is at the center of these many battles, with and without allies, and sees them through to their conclusion.
Reviews of Nightseer were tepid; unlike her later novels, where Hamilton creates a vivid, unusual new world for her characters to explore, this world is described by Carolyn Cushman of Locus as "working within a standard fantasy scenario." Cushman added: "Once the battles start, the novel is all action with little point beyond revenge … [While] a bit of reluctant but inevitable romance helps tie the plot together …, [Keleios's] companions, however important, come and go from one battle to the next, a process ruinous to the convincing development of relationships." For all of these problems, however, Cushman still found much to praise in the novel, and noted that "for a newcomer [Hamilton] demonstrates a real feel for the most popular elements of genre fantasy."
Hamilton's next book is part of the popular "Star Trek: The Next Generation" series. Based on the popular Star Trek spin-off television series, Nightshade follows the exploits of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew as they encounter a planet completely polluted by its inhabitants. To make matters even worse, the natives are engaged in a war of mutual annihilation. The crew of the Enterprise become enmeshed in the planet's warlike politics when Captain Picard is wrongly accused of murdering one of the planet's delegates. Picard is sentenced to death, and the remainder of the Enterprise crew must rush to rescue him by finding the real killer. Reviewers noted that Hamilton's book sits well within the "Star Trek" series, even though her style is at times heavy-handed. As Hugh M. Flick Jr. writes in Kliatt, "The horrors of runaway pollution are clearly spelled out to even the most undiscerning reader."
Guilty Pleasures, Hamilton's next offering, kicked off what would become her signature series. The novel introduces an alternate Earth, similar enough to have recognizable brand names, but with a few important differences. Not only does this alternate Earth include a grisly variety of undead creatures—vampires, zombies, ghouls, and worse are part of the story—but in this parallel universe, humans have accepted the presence of these creatures and have legalized their existence. So long as they can peacefully coexist with living creatures, the undead are legally free to roam.
While most of the undead are surprisingly willing to live by these rules, some of their brethren are up to no good. To handle these criminal undead, the humans have set up special police teams—dubbed "spook squads"—to handle and eliminate the bad apples. As in our world, there are some cases that the police cannot solve, and in their place private investigators fill the gap. Anita Blake, heroine of the series, is just such a private eye. Petite but tough, her primary professional interest is necromancy—the raising and animation of the dead. She's also an accomplished vampire hunter. She is so good at this "hobby," in fact, that she's known among the undead as "the Executioner." The title of Guilty Pleasures refers to a vampire strip club popular with daring humans seeking the titillating experiences of rubbing elbows with the undead. Blake visits the nightclub for a bachelorette party and ends up unwillingly coerced into accepting a case to stop a serial killer of vampires.
Several reviewers praised Hamilton for her creative vision. Cushman commented in Locus: "About all that's missing is real romantic tension, but the characters are generally too unpleasant to be involving. Still, there are plenty of kinky plot twists, lots of dark humor, and a slap-dash pace to keep things going." Samantha Hunt, writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, has perhaps the highest praise for the book. Not only is Guilty Pleasures "a fast-paced delight, with its strange characters, snappy dialogue, and brutal action," but Hunt suggested that readers "look forward to a sequel—the author can not possibly leave us hanging at ‘… I don't date vampires. I kill them.’"
In answer to Hunt's wish, Anita Blake returns in The Laughing Corpse, the second book in the "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter" series. This time through, Anita's arm is twisted by a millionaire who desires to have a certain corpse raised from the dead. Anita refuses him, protesting that, due to the extensive deterioration of the body, a human sacrifice would be required, and she does not do sacrifices. The millionaire does not take no for an answer. Before she can resolve that problem, the police call her in to investigate a grisly series of murders apparently committed by a zombie. To add to her problems, handsome vampire Jean-Claude becomes increasingly assertive in expressing his romantic interest in Blake.
Critics hailed The Laughing Corpse as brilliantly balanced between suspense and hilarity. Samantha Hunt, writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, called the book "gross, grisly, gruesome, and one heck of an evening's read for those who relish same." Impressed by Hamilton's continuing installments to the series, Cushman, again writing for Locus, noted that "the creepy and the mundane alternate constantly in these novels, for often hilarious contract…. But there's also plenty of intriguing detection, edge-of-the-seat excitement, and grue for the hardcore [sic] buffs."
Blake returns for a third engagement in Hamilton's Circus of the Damned. Here the vampire hunter gets caught in the middle ground when two vampire lords fight for preeminence. Reviews for this continuation of the series continued to be excellent. A Library Journal reviewer reported that "fans of hard-boiled detective stories and vampire fiction will enjoy this well-written, fast-paced dark fantasy."
Death of a Darklord, Hamilton's next novel, marked a brief respite from the Anita Blake series. The story is set within the framework of the popular "Ravenloft" role-playing game. Not surprisingly, Ravenloft is a game system based on a hearty blend of horror and fantasy, subjects Hamilton seems to relish. The story centers around a village under attack by armies of zombies raised from the earth by some unknown malefactor. A mage finder is hired to restore things to normal, and the book follows his travels to the root of the problem.
Hamilton next returned to the adventures of trusty Anita Blake. The Lunatic Café revolves, not surprisingly, around a set of killings that Blake must investigate. This time through, the police are unsure whether the killer is mortal or undead, so Blake has even less than usual to rely on. Romance is again a sticky point for Blake, as old friend Jean-Claude, the local Master Vampire from the earlier novels, surfaces to challenge Blake's latest boyfriend for the sleuth's hand in marriage. Joseph R. DeMarco, writing in Kliatt, praised the novel, calling Hamilton "a writer who combines elements of everything in her work: police procedural, wry sense of humor, detailed knowledge of the supernatural, and much more. Her writing is smooth and beautiful. Her Anita Blake is intelligent, witty, strong, clever and lots of fun."
The next installment in the Anita Blake series is Bloody Bones. The book takes its title from a tavern, and from a monster that Anita tracks throughout the story, all the while dealing with her requisite assortment of vampires and other creatures, some friendly, some not. In a review for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Michelle West remarked of the book: "The plot twists are contrived—but they're the type of contrivance that you generally notice after the ride, not during it."
Hamilton's next Anita Blake book, Burnt Offerings, has Anita making a valiant effort to stay away from now-ex-boyfriend, the werewolf Richard, even as she continues her relationship with Jean-Claude the vampire. However, nothing is as easy as it should be, as someone is systematically setting fire to all of their favorite spots around town, and Anita must struggle to keep her friends alive—or, in Jean-Claude's case, still functional. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that Hamilton "deserves credit for creating an entirely believable world of altogether other-worldly inhabitants."
Obsidian Butterfly, which marked Hamilton's jump to hardcover books, finds Anita in New Mexico, called by her friend, the deadly professional killer Edward, to repay a favor by assisting him with a job—one that deals with an Aztec vampire goddess and a necromancer, among other things that fall into Anita's area of expertise. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked: "Anita Blake is full of contradictions that make her a potent lead character for this continuing series," and went on to dub the book "a monstrously entertaining read."
Narcissus in Chains, the tenth Anita Blake novel, finds Blake still torn between her two supernatural lovers, vampire Jean-Claude and werewolf Richard. After killing the dominant wereleopard of the local pack, Anita has temporarily become the Nimir-Ra—the protector—of the wereleopards until a new dominant can assume the role. When a pair of wereleopards in her care are kidnapped in a sleazy bondage club called Narcissus in Chains, Blake must rely on the help of both her paramours to locate them. In the conflict, Anita is wounded and faces the possibility of becoming a wereleopard herself, which spurs Richard to confront and threaten the wereleopard he believes is responsible. As Anita tries to prevent Richard from spilling unnecessary blood, she also has to content with the still-looming danger that continues to threaten the lycanthropes and Blake herself. "With plenty of steamy sex and graphic violence, this is engaging reading for vampire cultists," commented Kristine Huntley in Booklist.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that "Anita Blake is one the more fascinating fictional heroines since Scarlet O'Hara—and a hell of a lot more fun than most." Cerulean Sins, the critic stated, is "the best Blake yet." Monsters, serial killers, and vampire politics occupy Blake in her eleventh outing. When ancient vampire Belle Morte, the originator of Jean-Claude's line, and the European Council of Vampires decide they want to check up on Jean-Claude in America, they send the coldly gorgeous but sinister Musette as their representative. The displeased and resentful Jean-Claude tries to cope as Musette's capricious nature interferes with him. Once arrived, Musette develops an interest in Asher, a scarred vampire once under Belle Morte's thrall. When Anita defiantly beds Asher, she enrages the two vampire women and must deal with the potential consequences of the attention of a powerful vampire and her agent. Elsewhere, Anita must investigate a series of serial murders that have all the hallmarks of being committed by a shapeshifter. Hamilton's "complex, enthralling world is utterly absorbing," commented Booklist reviewer Kristine Huntley, who predicted that Blake's "many fans will be thrilled to see her back in action" in this novel.
In Incubus Dreams, Anita works to strengthen the psychic powers she has developed through her relationships with the various otherworldly creatures in her life, particularly Jean-Claude the vampire, and much of her development is sexually charged. Using her new skills, Anita sets out to track a group of serial killers that have been targeting local strippers, draining them of blood. Alisa McCune, in a review for Reviewer's Bookwatch, opined: "After 11 books in this series, Hamilton still manages to surprise the reader with new material."
Anita Blake's already complicated life-lived-in-two-world becomes more complicated in Danse Macabre, when she discovers that she might be pregnant. With her magical powers fueled by vigorous sex with multiple partners, Anita knows that there are six potential candidates for fatherhood, including longtime werewolf partner Richard and slinky wereleopard Nathaniel. She must also deal with the potential personal dangers of her lycanthropic nature and what effect it would have on her unborn child. As the story unfolds, Anita plays host to a gathering of the vampire Masters of the City, in town to take in a performance by a vampire ballet group. The Masters' presence, however, brings about complications that even Anita couldn't suspect. A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed, enthusiastically, that "there's no end in sight for this fabulously imagined series."
Hamilton introduces a new character with A Kiss of Shadows, the first in the Meredith Gentry series. Gentry, also known as Meredith NicEssus, is a faerie princess who has become mortal. She holds a job with the Grey Detective Agency, for whom she tracks semi-human suspects and works on supernatural cases. However, when Gentry is summoned back to the Faerie Court, where her aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, rules, Gentry's relatively calm existence is suddenly called into question. Rick Kleffel, writing for Trashotron.com, remarked: "Gentry's voice is sassy and very enjoyable to read." He continued, saying, "Hamilton's version of a present infiltrated by the supernatural is quite entertaining." Citing the combination of "sex, violence, and magic," Library Journal reviewer Laurel Bliss remarked that this series debut "manages to be both disturbing and entertaining." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented: "As wild as the novel's premise is, memorable characters and wicked wit make it all delicious, ribald fun."
A Caress of Twilight marks the return of Meredith Gentry. Complicating Meredith's life is her Aunt Andais, the faerie Queen of Air and Darkness, who has set up a competition between Meredith and Prince Cel. The first of the two to produce an heir will inherit the throne of the Unseelie Court and become the ruler of faerie. Libidinous Meredith is equal to the task, despite the assassination attempts initiated by the treacherous Cel, but her search must center on a potential mate who is not merely virile, but noble and kingly as well. At the novel's end, Meredith and the Los Angeles Police Department's Bureau of Human and Fey Affairs must battle a hideous creature created by the opposing Seelie and Unseelie faerie courts, a monster with enough power to damage human and faerie world alike. A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that the book's "steamy prose and Meredith's obsessive personal conflicts should keep the faithful turning the pages."
Seduced by Moonlight, the third in the Meredith Gentry books, finds Meredith still desperate to conceive an heir so that she may inherit her aunt's throne instead of her cousin, Prince Cel, who is not only vying for the throne, but attempting to get Meredith killed to insure that she is out of the way. Meredith, or "Merry," engages a series of lovers in an attempt to conceive, while continuing to work. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews dubbed the book "steamy embraces wispily laced together by moonlit shadow-webbing." Jackie Cassada, in a review for Library Journal, opined: "Hamilton's compelling storytelling makes this a good choice."
In A Stroke of Midnight, Meredith Gentry is still working as a private detective and still pursuing copious sex of unimaginable power and intensity. The murder of a fey and a human reporter during a press conference inside Unseelie headquarters causes Meredith to summon the police, but when the human lawmen take their investigation into magical territory, they face dangers that Meredith could not, and did not, anticipate. As Meredith grows older and wiser, she begins to see more clearly the meaning of the frequent and mystical sex she is compelled by her royal heritage to engage in. In the novel's background, Queen Andais has alienated many of the members of the Unseelie Court, and diabolical Prince Cel continues to pose a palpable threat to Meredith and her bid to become ruler of the Unseelie court. "Faeries, fornication and forensics fuse for yet another darkly fantastic frolic for Hamilton fans," remarked a Publishers Weekly critic.
Mistral's Kiss finds Merry mating with Mistral, who is the captain of her aunt's guard. Despite Merry's ongoing attempts to conceive an heir, and her aunt's encouragement in this endeavor, Mistral, due to his position, is considered off limits as a partner for her sexual escapades—for good reason, it seems, as their time spent together somehow unleashes an old and deadly mystical power, and puts the entire court at risk.
Strange Candy is Hamilton's first collection of short stories, an assemblage of fourteen tales set mostly outside her familiar worlds of vampires and faeries. In "Selling Houses," a real estate agent faces the challenges of selling a home where a bloody mass murder occurred. "Here Be Dragons" concerns a child with psychic abilities whose dreams are capable of killing. A familiar but early version of a well-known Hamilton character appears in the vampire tale, "Those Who Seek Forgiveness." A Publishers Weekly contributor observed that Hamilton's short fiction and early works "reveal that she has always had a talent for portraying strong female characters."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Detecting Women 2, Purple Moon Press (Dearborn, MI), 1996.
Booklist, September 15, 1999, Holly Cooley, review of Killing Dance, p. 242; August, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of Narcissus in Chains, p. 2051; March 15, 2002, Terrence Miltner, review of A Caress of Twilight, p. 1219; April 15, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of Cerulean Sins, p. 1456; February 15, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of Seduced by Moonlight, p. 1047; July, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of Cravings, p. 1828; October 15, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of Incubus Dreams, p. 395; July 1, 2006, Kristine Huntley, review of Danse Macabre, p. 42.
Drood Review of Mystery, July 1, 2000, review of Obsidian Butterfly, p. 17.
Entertainment Weekly, December 8, 2006, Mandi Bierly, review of Mistral's Kiss, p. 100.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of Narcissus in Chains, p. 1149; February 15, 2002, review of A Caress of Twilight, p. 219; March 1, 2003, review of Cerulean Sins, p. 334; December 15, 2003, review of Seduced by Moonlight, p. 1430; September 1, 2004, review of Incubus Dreams, p. 825.
Kliatt, May, 1993, Hugh M. Flick, Jr., review of Nightshade, p. 16; May, 1996, Joseph R. DeMarco, review of The Lunatic Café, p. 16.
Library Journal, May 15, 1995, Jackie Cassada, review of Circus of the Damned, p. 99; June 15, 1995, review of Circus of the Damned, p. 98; May 15, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of Burnt Offerings, p. 119; December 1, 1999, Patricia Altner, review of Obsidian Butterfly, p. 185; August 1, 2000, Laurel Bliss, review of A Kiss of Shadows, p. 168; February 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Seduced by Moonlight, p. 166; October 1, 2004, Patricia Altner, review of Incubus Dreams, p. 69; January 1, 2005, Patricia Altner, review of Bite, p. 104; April 1, 2007, David Faucheux, review of Mistral's Kiss, p. 126.
Locus, April, 1992, Carolyn Cushman, review of Nightseer, p. 46; October 1993, review of Guilty Pleasures, p. 27; October, 1994, review of The Laughing Corpse, pp. 33, 53.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May 1, 1997, Michelle West, review of Bloody Bones, p. 127; June 1, 2000, Michelle West, review of Obsidian Butterfly, p. 41.
Publishers Weekly, March 23, 1998, review of Burnt Offerings, p. 96; December 20, 1999, review of Obsidian Butterfly, p. 62; September 4, 2000, review of A Kiss of Shadows, p. 89; March 4, 2002, review of A Caress of Twilight, p. 61; March 24, 2003, review of Cerulean Sins, p. 63; March 24, 2003, Paula Guran, "Playing with Plenty of Imaginary Toys," interview with Laurell K. Hamilton, p. 63; January 19, 2004, review of Seduced by Moonlight, p. 58; June 7, 2004, review of Cravings, p. 37; September 13, 2004, review of Incubus Dreams, p. 63; September 20, 2004, Dorman T. Schindler, "Underworld Seductress: Laurell K. Hamilton," profile of Laurell K. Hamilton, p. 42; October 11, 2004, Daisy Maryles, "A Toothsome Two," p. 17; January 3, 2005, review of Bite, p. 42; April 11, 2005, review of A Stroke of Midnight, p. 38; April 25, 2005, Daisy Maryles, "A Fair Faerie," review of A Stroke of Midnight, p. 19; January 23, 2006, review of Micah, p. 192; May 22, 2006, review of Danse Macabre, p. 35; August 14, 2006, review of Strange Candy, p. 181; October 30, 2006, review of Mistral's Kiss, p. 41.
Reviewer's Bookwatch, October 1, 2004, Alisa McCune, review of Incubus Dreams.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February 1994, Samantha Hunt, review of Guilty Pleasures, p. 381; February 1995, Samantha Hunt, review of The Laughing Corpse, p. 348; December 1, 1998, review of Burnt Offerings, p. 368.
Laurell K. Hamilton Home Page,http://www.laurellkhamilton.org (November 18, 2006).
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (November 18, 2006), biography of Laurell K. Hamilton.
Trashotron.com,http://trashotron.com/ (August 7, 2002), Rick Kleffel, review of A Kiss of Shadows.