• Well Red

The Return of Anita Blake

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Title: Serpentine, Sucker Punch, and Rafael

Author: Laurell K Hamilton

Published: 2018, 2020, 2021

Publisher: Headline

Rating: Varied (** - ***.5 )

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Horror

Setting: Various

Difficulty: Easy Pages: varied

Series: Yes. These are the 26th, 27th and 28th in the Anita Blake series, respectively.

Always spoiler free. Loss, violence and fighting included in the books.

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know I’ve written about the Anita Blake series before. Essentially, I did a review of the entire series up to book 25, and concluded it had gotten pretty weird, but I’d probably catch up with the end of the series at some point. Well, this is some point. I needed something different to read and read all three across the span of a weekend. Obviously, I had thoughts…


Serpentine follows the ‘other’ side of the Anita Blake’s family/life. The Marshal side. Well, sort of. It’s the wedding between Ted and Donna, and Anita is a member of the groomsmen. The pitch of this book is good, the execution less so. It kind of descends into random drama between everyone that I found neither interesting nor plot driven. There is some discussion about loss and coming to terms with it, which I thought was mildly interesting, but the context of the siblings being Brides…well it’s all a bit weird.

The main ‘monster’ that’s pushed as the terror hounding Anita…isn’t really here or there either. I felt like it was a side point to the above mentioned drama, and it wasn't actually that scary or different to other terrors Anita has experienced in the series.

It does however mark the beginning of a change in the series. These three books have a marked lack of sex in them (still some, but not every other page), which was something that I previously remarked about having some issues with. To whit, some people have these books included under erotica and they aren’t far off with some of the books in the series, to be fair.

Sucker Punch

My least favourite Anita Blake book for a long while. This book, I guess, is supposed to be all about the angst. Instead, I was hopelessly bored. Anita is smarter than what she was given to play with in this book, and it very much felt like a very, very long set up for some drama/murdering between Anita and Otto. This could have been a good set up – a return to Anita solving crimes and away from her harem and that drama. It is not.

On the other hand, again there is little sex in this. On the other, other hand, she’s repeating the same conversations she’s had in the past 26 books (that she’s petite, a woman, with multiple partners etc. etc.). We get it, everyone gets it; having these verbatim conversations in each book is tedious. Also, the general lack of character growth still continues to bug me.


Ah! This book is a return to what I enjoy about Anita Blake books! A little bit of ‘spice’, a little bit of ‘danger’, a little bit violence…you get the point. It was a bit on the shorter side for her novels, but then it pretty much only followed one plot line, with two people (the cast of the Anita novels is HUGE) taking mostly centre stage. I enjoyed this book! I wanted more!

There is that dichotomy of Anita both being the most powerful being under the sun but also being extremely fragile, and ultimately killable, but also always pulling something out of her metaphysical bag (or literally sheath) and saving, or helping to the save the day, proving at the end of the day, she really is that dangerous. But also really fragile. (Sorry that was a loooong sentence!)

Look, given my previous issues with the series (which you can find detailed here), these marked a pleasant turning point in the series. I’m interested to see where Hamilton goes with the rest of the series. I can see two things that the series is leading up to (wedding and Otto issue) but where she can go after that is a bit debatable because essentially, she’s made most of her characters overpowered, so there are little true threats left. Maybe it’s time to retire Anita Blake in a few books time?

Well Red Reviews

Would I recommend these books? Have you read the rest of the series? Then, yes. Although I could take or leave Sucker Punch.

Just a final note that - in case it's not obvious - my reviews are completely subjective. I know that people may completely disagree with my views, and that is absolutely amazing! Anything I write in my reviews is about my own experience of the book and how it was written, and not a personal comment about the author or readers who loved/hated it.

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