Micah and Strange Candy by Laurell K Hamilton

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Micah and Strange Candy by Laurell K Hamilton

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: A varied mixture of adult fairy stories ranging from the dark imaginings and sexually explicit world of Anita Blake to the fun and frivolity of Cupids and a bloodthirsty sword call Leech.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: October 2007
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841496023

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There's probably a genre name for what Laurell K Hamilton writes... but I'm not entirely sure what it is. It crosses several boundaries.

I came to it warily on the back of a comment to the effect that "you love vampires" which was a misinterpretation... I like the dark side brought into the light, twisted and displayed in its humanity and humour... I scare easily by realistically described possibilities (ridiculously easily for someone with no belief in any kind of afterlife - but there you go). I need not have worried.

Hamilton is not Stephen King. She is not remotely scary - although her tales do examine dark possibilities and violent occurrences. Probably the difference is that her aim seems to be to entertain rather than actually to frighten. Her touch is therefore much lighter than her subject matter. And when the subject matter itself is at the lighter end of her spectrum she is smilingly delightful. Marion Zimmer Bradley might have told her to steer clear of elves - she did well to ignore that advice.

But I'm getting ahead of myself....let's get back to Vampires.

Orbit's latest offering from Hamilton it calls an "omnibus edition" - but that's stretching it. A novel and 'other original tales' comes in at under 400 pages in the paperback edition, with Micah stretching to barely 116 - a novella at best, possibly even just a 'long' short story. Personally I think the whole would have been better marketed as a single collection of tales with a single title but perhaps I'm being pedantic. Most readers won't care one way or the other.

Micah is billed as 'an all new Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel' and if you're familiar with the series - bear with me, what follows is for those who aren't.

Anita Blake is woken by a half-past dawn telephone call, which is never good news. Extracting herself from the arms and hair of her lovers, she manages to take the call - discovers that her co-investigator cannot make the case load (his pregnant wife being in urgent danger), and thus has to rush out to Philadelphia to raise a witness.

Raising in Anita Blake's case is as in 'from the dead'. Blake is a federal marshal, animator and vampire executioner (fully licensed).

And just for the record her current two lovers are Nathaniel (a stripper by trade, a vampire by recent inclination) and Micah - a werewolf (by dint of barely surviving a vicious attack as a child).

This is a world where all such creatures are not only acknowledged to exist - but have rights. Up to a point. The point being that one at which they put 'normal' humans in danger. The creative possibilities of such a world are endless and Hamilton's delight in exploring them does shine through the writing.

This particular tale takes Blake & Micah to Philly to raise a witness for the prosecution... but the defence are raising more than an acceptable number of objections to the proceedings which implies there's more to the case than meets the eye. Although there are twists enough in that part of the story, the real thrust is in the emotional and sexual relationship between our two agents... and in their mutual discovery of back-stories they were unaware of in each other's lives and in the connections between their history and that of their Philadelphia colleagues, who are not 100% happy to have them along.

So is it a ghost story? Not really. It's part police-procedural, part sexual romp.

It's fast and frolicky, with enough mystery to keep you wanting to know how it plays out - but the sex is almost the point of the telling, so if that isn't your bag stay clear. Equally, it's "women's mag" sex... so if you're looking for serious erotica - again, not quite the ticket.

Impure escapism - and possibly none the worse for that. Against my better judgement I have to admit that on the whole I enjoyed it... but I was disappointed by the ending which neatly resolved all the issues but did so such a rushed fashion that you could almost see the stagehand doing wind-it-up hand-signals in the fog of the graveyard. Can't help thinking that a little more time would have produced a lengthier and ultimately more satisfying version.

Strange Candy

The rest of this edition is given over to a collection of short stories, most if not all of which have been previously published. They range from the very first published tale from the author to one of the most recently completed.

And what a mixture she has produced.

They include the very first Anita Blake story - in which our heroine is yet to become a duly accredited officer of the law, but in which some of the "rules" of Blake's world become established. It's a story of forgiveness... and what we will do to obtain it.

There is the violence of the reign of the merman on ocean-crashed shoreline, and more light-heartedly what happens when an ordinary woman marries into a family of dysfunctional wizards. A couple of tales take us into the Nightseer world of elves and witchery and the wonderfully wicked short sword Leech.

A superhero finds that life in the modern world isn't all it's cracked up to be.

And of course there is the obligatory born-evil child.

This is a sweep of adult fairy tales - with romance and truly dark wickedness in equal measure. Some work - some are well-crafted - and a couple are near perfect. The author also gets the collective noun of the year award for a lust of Cupids. Short stories are not everyone's taste, but I'm pleased to see that they are beginning to become fashionable again - not least because I think that this is Hamilton's true metier. She might see herself as a novelist, but I enjoyed the shorts far more, and it would be a poorer world if she deserted the cause.

A difficult edition to rate... not least because I feel it's mis-marketed. It's nowhere near as dark and foreboding as the packaging suggests... which might leave spec. buyers somewhat disappointed, whereas those going in initiated may find a few gems. On balance, it's probably a middle ground kind of book. An amusing read, but not one to hunt out with any kind of diligence.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag. We also have a review of Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K Hamilton.

If you enjoy this type of book then you might also enjoy No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong.

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Buy Micah and Strange Candy by Laurell K Hamilton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Micah and Strange Candy by Laurell K Hamilton at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Micah and Strange Candy by Laurell K Hamilton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Micah and Strange Candy by Laurell K Hamilton at Amazon.com.


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