Saturday, January 25, 2014

Harlequin--chapter 28

Guys, I'd love to pull the "At least it can't get worse" gag with this chapter, but it's actually not that funny anymore. One, I know it's gonna get worse 'cause the Haven thing is coming up, but I kind of doubted that the bottom would fall out before this. And then I read ahead and...

Fuck. Let's just get on with it.

Edward brought backup with him. One of 'em is Olaf, who is basically LKH's idea of a serial killer. Big. Burly. Rather than a virgin/whore complex he's got a whore/victim/Anita one. Yeah, because he'll make an exception in his kill list for Anita.

Olaf likes you, likes you in a way I’ve never seen him like a woman. He has whores and he has victims, but whatever he feels for you is different.”

This sentence, just this one, makes me feel blind screaming rage. No, Laurel. Psychopaths don't work this way. They don't make an exception for their window dressing (See Paul Bernado and his treatment of his wife/killing buddy Karla at the ass end of their crime spree.) Many of them, in fact, deliberately choose public mates who don't fit their victim group so they don't accidentally kill their beard and out themselves in public. (IE Ted Bundy's public girlfriends and eventual wife were, with one exception, passable bordering on plain, with NONE of the features his victims had in common. The exception is considered by many to have been his prototype. He never hunted her, but he did re-initate a relationship for the express purpose of humiliating her)

But no. Anita is so special the deadly serial killer wants to fuck her and then let her live.

Thankfully for my sanity, Anita is on the right end of this conversation. Olaf is a killer, she fits his profile, she wants him the fuck out of her city. Edward convinces her to let him stay because...he's good at killing things and he probably would have come to St. Louis anyway if Edward hadn't made him promise not to.

This is supposed to be a convincing arguement for while Olaf is a good person. I guess.

And it is only then, after HALF THE CHAPTER is dedicated to Why Having Olaf Here Would Be Bad For Anita, that we find out that Edward's OTHER backup is his teenaged soon to be stepson, Peter.


Peter's presence in this chapter is introduced with Laurel K. Hamilton's usual tact: Peter was, in fact, in the hallway while Anita and Donovan were having sex. Edward has the following to say about Anita's bedroom exploits.

“I figured you for a screamer.”

Peter is sixteen. Yeah, that's old enough to screw, but that's not old enough to be in on the grown up's porn. Anita asks Edward, in surprisingly restrained language, what the bloody blue ant fuck Peter is doing in St Louis when they have killer vampires on the loose and Edward replies that it's because there are killer vampires on the loose.

Seriously. That's his entire reasoning.

“Short version, because we’ve only got a few hours to find these bastards.”
And you expect me to believe that a child Edward is supposed to be GUARDING is the only person he could grab? There wasn't some psychotic goat diddler or something he could have grabbed? You REALLY expect me to believe that in ARIZONA the only suitable backup a souless mercenary could nab on a moment's notice is a CHILD?

Again: Anita's on the right side of this arguement, but once again, she doesn't exactly follow through with the right move, which is to send the kid back home until he can legally buy a pack of cigarettes.

So it turns out that Peter, being a human, was traumatized by certain events--having his dad eaten by a werewolf and then being molested by crazy not-Aztecs in Arizona--and like any other human, has nightmares and various shades of PTSD to deal with. Edward, being a fucked up sociopath of the first water, is teaching Peter how to shoot things instead of sending Peter to a REAL therapist. Which means that when Anita called, he listened in on everything and then demanded that Edward take him along...and Edward said yes because an untested hormonal child is the best backup you can have when something that scares THE ENTIRE VAMPIRE COUNCIL is moving in on your best friend.

Anita says "FUCK that shit, send the kid home" to everything that Edward hands her...right up until he says that Peter is in love with her.

“When I was sixteen, I’d rather have died than have a woman I loved humiliate me.
Yeah. So when Anita saved Peter, he imprinted on her like a newborn baby duck. Also on the violence from that night.

“His therapist says that an event like what happened to him just as his sexuality was awakening can be a defining event.”
Please tell me this isn't going where I think it's going.

It is going there, and it's coming with a healthy serving of slut shame.

“It means he’s had two girlfriends in the last year. The first one was perfect. She was quiet, respectful, pretty. They were sweet together.” “What happened?” I asked. “Her parents called one night and asked what kind of monster our son was, that he’d hurt their daughter.”
Well, that sounds nice enou--

“The usual. She was a virgin and they didn’t do enough foreplay.” “It happens,” I said. “But the girl claimed that when she told him it hurt, he didn’t stop.” “Sounds like buyer’s remorse to me, Edward.”
Oh for FUCK'S SAKE Laurell, you're seriously SLUT SHAMING a DATE RAPE that didn't even happen in this book? Can you not go ONE WHOLE CHAPTER without having a protagonist character rape somebody?

“I thought so, too, until the second girl. She was rough trade, Anita. As bad as the first girl had been good. She slept around, and everyone knew it. She broke up with Peter, said he was a freak. This girl was a freak, Anita. She was all leather and spikes and piercings, and it wasn’t just for show. She said he hurt her.”

This kind of amazes me. On the one hand, this girl is defined as bad because she sleeps around. Not the leather and the spikes, or an actual criminal record. Nope. She's "rough trade" because she sleeps around. And yet her complaint about rape is valid because she knows and the other girl doesn't. I think these two examples kind of capuslize how LKH views the world, right here. You've got the prudy-mc-two-shoes who can't define what they're looking at, and the slutty little freaks you have to be better than. And then you've got her in the middle because she's Just That Special.

“When a kid is abused, they can react a lot of different ways; two of the choices are that they identify with the abuser and become abusers, or they embrace the role of victim. He didn’t embrace the role of victim, Anita.”
You say there are a lot of different ways, but you only provide the binary. Victim or abuser, kill or be killed. There's never a third option that would allow a human being to survive with dignity and not become a fucking monster. You get wolves and sheep in Anita's world. You don't get any guard dogs. It's like a world of supervillians with no Batman. I mean, Peter could have gotten real help, put his history in order and become, say, a foster parent or a victim's advocate, who would run against labling other kids as "rough trade" or damaged goods. He could have gracefully thanked Anita and Edward for their imput on his life, and then run off with Rafael and Ronnie and started something that could, IDK, actually HELP shapeshifters and supernatural critters have normal lives. But that would require growth and depth, and we'd much rather have a safely defined binary system we can just plug our characters into. Keep 'em nice and pigeonholed.

“I don’t know yet. But his therapist says that he’s also identified with his savior, you. He has another option besides just victim or abuser; he has you.”
The hubris in this bullshit is just astounding. And it hasn't been a fucking HOUR since Anita raped hundreds of people across the nation. Yesterday somebody reminded me that the swanmanes aren't made. They're born. Which means a lot of the people Anita just raped are CHILDREN. How the FUCK is Anita Blake anything other than an incredibly vile abuser? How could she be an example of ANYTHING to an abuse victim, other than the poster child for "Don't let this happen to you"?

And of course, Anita is more or less being set up to be Peter's perfect lover because she likes it rough and he's imprinted on her sexually.

 “You saved him, Anita. You took off the ropes, the blindfold. He’d just had the first sex of his life, and he looks up and sees you.” “He was raped,” I said. “It’s still sex. Everyone likes to pretend that it’s not, but it is. It may be about dominance , and pain, but it’s still sex. I’d take it away, make it so it never happened, but I can’t. Donna can’t. His therapist can’t. Peter can’t.”

 Here's hoping Peter goes back to Arizona, gets real help, and never comes back to this series ever again.

I really can't do this bullshit justice, either. Every time I read that paragraph up there I find six different things to scream at and they all cancel each other out. What you're reading, loyal blog-readers, are the handful of things that manage to make it out of a nuclear explosion of WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT.

Edward and Anita finally agree that they can't keep Peter here, and they can't send him home. BULLSHIT they can't send him home. Roll him, write him a nice letter apologizing for getting him out of the line of fire, and stick him on a plane after working out a good lie to tell Donna that will involve her taking her son home and keeping him there.

And the chapter ends with Anita debating the difference between a crush and hero worship and deciding that there isn't any.

I SERIOUSLY need to go shower after this chapter. Even the sex let me escape with relative sanity but this? It makes me feel VERY dirty. And I'm not entirely sure why.


  1. LKH has used the term “rough trade” to refer to sex workers who do kinky stuff before, but it actually means a male sex worker, usually a straight one, who has sex with male clients. I’ve never heard or seen it to mean anything else, but just to be sure I checked Urban Dictionary and it did list her definition among them, so I’m guessing the meaning has started to shift recently (since UD is about *modern* slang)

    Yeah, that last paragraph is giving me all the Bad Feels too, guh

  2. “Sounds like buyer’s remorse to me, Edward.”

    Fuck you LKH. Fuck you fuck you FUCK YOU.

  3. IT IS NOT STILL SEX LAURELL, WTF. It's violence.

    Also the breathtaking lack of concern for the faceless women Olaf presumably tortures to death is truly shocking.

    1. "Also the breathtaking lack of concern for the faceless women Olaf presumably tortures to death is truly shocking."

      Because they were weak female victims that deserved what they got. Women are either bitches, victims or ass-kissers in Anita's world, and female victims always deserve their fate for not being a strong manly-man-woman like Anita. Weak male victims, on the other hand, deserve Anita's protection and long as they are hot and white.

  4. "You say there are a lot of different ways, but you only provide the binary. Victim or abuser, kill or be killed. There's never a third option that would allow a human being to survive with dignity and not become a fucking monster. You get wolves and sheep in Anita's world. You don't get any guard dogs. It's like a world of supervillians with no Batman. "

    Thank you! This line: "You don't get any guard dogs" is one of the best statements I've heard for what is wrong with LKH's world. There are no heroes; anyone who is good is excised from the story. This is something to remember when I'm working on my paranormal fantasy.