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Written By:

Ed Fortune

The literary subgenre ‘paranormal romance’ can be split into two broad categories; those who assume that it’s all about Twilight and those who prefer the far older and more established Anita Blake novels. The two couldn’t be any more distinct; though both are aboutromantic encounters with the supernatural, the latter is more mature, more distinguished and, above all, more positive and self-affirming.

Dead Ice is the 24th Anita Blake book; author Laurell K. Hamilton has been at this since 1993, and the central character has changed quite a bit over heradventures, though the core concept remains the same. Blake lives in a world were werewolves, vampires, ghouls and the like are all real things and areknown to exist by the general public. Laws cover what these creatures can and can’t do and vampires have recently gained civil rights. Blake’s role in thisworld is to execute vampires that break the law. She’s also a necromancer and is hired by some to raise the dead; it’s a rare gift so she charges a lot ofmoney for her services. Given the legal and ethical implications of such activity, it’s mostly done for academic or legal purposes.

Blake has changed a lot from the first book; she is now engaged to the USA’s Vampire King Jean Claude, and is in a complex polyamorous relationship with avariety of were-creatures and vampires.  Dead Ice can be best described as a book of three distinct storylines. The central storyline involves an FBIinvestigation into pornographic movies that use zombies. Another arc details supernatural politics and Blake’s growing powers. The remaining plot involvesBlake and her lovers negotiating and co-ordinating their sex lives.

This latter part takes up a lot of the novel. The series has always been very dialogue driven and a lot of the characters talk in an unnatural way (no punintended). This makes the seemingly endless negotiations seem quite tedious; there’s just no passion in the way the characters talk. However, if the finedetails of polyamory interest you, then you’ll be delighted with this. The FBI investigation is a little perfunctory; the reader receives the reveal way too early inthe story. The most engaging part of the novel talks about Blake’s growing powers, and this includes some nicely horrifying moments.

If you’re looking for a sex-positive, kick-ass female protagonist in a novel filled with sexy supernatural monsters, then Dead Ice may well be your thing, but bewarned: it is quite long for what it is and it sorely needs more sex and death. Dead Ice is more of the same for those who know the territory already. LaurelK Hamilton continues to be the master of this most unusual of genres.



Ed Fortune

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