Once upon a time, there was a necromancer/animator/vampire executioner living in The Unmasqued World. She was a Chaste Hero who moved among the various vampires, werewolves, fairies, other were-animals, etc. in her world, solving crimes and kicking ass. Though she repeatedly said "I don't date vampires, I kill them" (well, vampires who are getting up to terribly bad things, anyway), she ended up being blackmailed into dating one, as well as a werewolf, leading to an infamous Love Triangle. First she slept with one. Then the other. Then she took some time off to think about things.Then came the novel Narcissus in Chains, which turned Anita into a livingmember of Belle Morte's line. Books after this one usually require Anita to sleep with her male harem.For most of the books, the basic storyline is as follows:Anita is at her "day job" and meets up with a shady, suspicious character that she suspects is up to no good, who tries to hire her for something. Her unscrupulous, proudly 'grey hat' boss coerces her into taking the case, while Anita threatens him and the client with either quitting or doing them grievous bodily injury. Anita speaks with her various love interests. Anita is called to a crime scene by the RPIT squad (or other law enforcement, if she's traveling) for some gruesome crime scene that will turn out to be relevant to her own case later on. At some point, she'll need to raise a zombie for something; this may involve using her own blood as a sacrifice in replacement of her preferred (chicken). Anita tries to reconcile being a Christian with being a necromancer. The plot goes on for a while longer before Anita finds out that the person who hired her in the beginning is the real Big Bad. She kills a bunch of vampires/monsters/people, overdoes her new magical ability, and wakes up in the hospital. In the later books, expect sex to be included somewhere, as Anita essentially becomes a succubus.The spoiler tags below are sporadic. Be warned.As Merry Gentry now has its own page, please put applicable tropes there.
Tropes found in this work:
Action Girl: There's no doubt that Anita's good at killing things.
Adult Fear: The series has an example of this in the first book, Guilty Pleasures. Anita is hopping through, having a genuine Worthy Opponent moment with Jean-Claude, who can actually roll her, if briefly. Then she meets Nikolaos. Nikolaos doesn't try to convince Anita that she's seeing something she isn't. She tries to convince Anita that she is someone she isn't. And Anita is conscious enough to realize what's happening, but not quite enough to stop it on her own. It's a boogeyman doing bad things, yeah...it's also someone putting you in a position where even someone who was as calm as Anita was incapable of fighting back, and has no reason to expect help. Oh, and Nikolaos looks like a child, and was springing between innocent and B-Movie villain before that.
Anti-Hero: Anita Type IV. Edward started out as Type V but since acquiring a family seems to be dropping into Type IV as well.
Artistic License - Biology: It is stated repeatedly in the series that a lycanthrope's "beast" (that is, the animal they turn into during the full moon) can and does influence their behavior. Unfortunately, the way most of the lycanthropes are portrayed makes it seem like Hamilton decided on a basic model (the werewolf model of a "pack" lead by an alpha male, with junior alphas and betas behind the senior alpha in authority) and just applied it slap-dash to every single type of lycanthrope in the series. She even did this to the weres that were based on animals that do not form "packs" or "herds" or "troops", but rather prefer to live singly or in pairs, only coming together to breed.
In some of the books it is stated that lycanthropes (especially, but not exclusively, the werewolves) avoid interacting with the police because the cops take issue with dominance fights that leave behind corpses. While this makes sense, it ignores the fact that most animal species whose males engage in dominance combat (including wolves and leopards, and hyenas, the three most common types of lycanthrope in the series) do so ritualistically rather than lethally. (For example, deer lock antlers to wrestle, leopards fight with sheathed claws, wolves nip rather than out right bite, and so on). This is especially prevalent in K-selected species such as humans (that is, species which produce few but long-lived children, and often invest many resources into protecting them). Combat lethalities in such contests would thus be almost unheard of, with the winner of the fight getting to breed (with that female, that time around) and the loser having incentive to live to fight again (possibly somewhere else) rather than escalating to a fight to a death.
Hamilton portrays the werewolves as living in a single polygynous pack. Actual wolves mostly mate for life and live in nuclear families.
As noted above, leopards are solitary animals that do not form packs or prides. They generally come together in pairs only to breed or to fight for territory, and then separate to live singly again. Hamilton has them acting just like the wolves. She also does this with bears (another solitary species) and swans (a species that forms bonded pairs mated for life).
The were-hyenas are portrayed by Hamilton as having a pack structure similar to the wolves, but matriarchal in nature, with a dominant female leading a group of beta females and submissive males. This is, ironically, the only time she actually gets the social structure of the real life animal the lycanthrope type is based on correct. That's precisely how real hyena groups work.
Hamilton claims that women can get pregnant with hybrid wolf/human fetus due to the male partner's lycanthropy, but a human woman's body would simply reject animal sperm rather than make use of it. No such pregnancy would actually be possible.
Artistic License - Law: The various vampires and werewolves and other supernatural creatures (except for demons) are all supposed to be taxpaying US citizens. Okay, fair enough. But then Jean-Claude regularly has people summoned to his presence by the expedience of sending a heavily armed thug (Anita) or a powerful vampire (Asher) to retrieve them, often against their will. That's kidnapping. But no one ever thinks to call the cops afterward.
Likewise, the entire idea that a vampire or werewolf has to get "permission" from the local vampire lord or werewolf pack leader before moving into a new territory is also a violation of civil rights. One can imagine a vampire or werewolf who is new to the Saint Louis area, and who has been harassed and/or threatened because they didn't get approval first suing Jean-Claude or Richard Zeeman for their entire net worth because of civil rights violations.
Artistic License - Medicine: There are several characters with medical expertise in the series. Not one of them consistently gives accurate medical advice. Notable examples include ice being used on burns, people with serious injuries left outdoors with no one treating them, and trying to cure comas with damp cloths.
Author Avatar: Anita is an avatar for Hamilton, to the point where the latter brags in her blogs that she's so "creative" she forgets that she's not Anita and confuses their two lives. She seems to think this is awesome instead of creepy.
Presumably Anita, with her dead mother and broken engagement, is supposed to be one of these—more obvious in later books. Others have it worse, too.
Every were in Anita's harem has some tragic backstory or another. It's a running joke with anti-fans that Anita likes to collect broken men so she doesn't have to do the work herself.
Cherry: She was a nurse, until she was outed as a wereleopard. A swift boot followed, as well as a major personality shift.
But Not Too Black: The most prominent African-American character, Vivian (not Vanessa), is described to resemble "coffee with enough cream to make it almost white" with "pale, blue-grey eyes."
Jamison Clarke, an African American animator, is described as a green-eyed redhead.
Anita herself could qualify as a Mestizo version-though her ethnicity is continually touted throughout the books, she is paler than most Caucasoids. While it is worth noting she is only half Mexican while also half Anglo-Saxon, it's strange everyone generally makes a such fuss about her ethnicity and how she's so "exotic," when she isn't visibly Amerind and has very little cultural background.
Pretty much all characters who aren't white are described as being white in some shape or form. It's... noticeable.
In Obsidian Butterfly, Edward's character gets much more attention than in previous books where Anita describes him as Batman (He swoops in, saves your ass, and then disappears). It turns out that the cold-hearted perfect killer has found himself trapped because of his alter-ego, Ted Forrester. Ted had been in a relationship with a woman named Donna: a widow with a little girl named Becca and a teenage boy named Peter. Edward had gotten so caught up in pretending to be Ted that he got engaged to the woman only to realize he was engaged to the woman. However, Anita later discovers that a small part of Edward actually wanted to be part of their family despite knowing better.
Jason Schulyer has received considerable amounts of development. He starts out as a Handsome Lech and somewhat of a Jerkass but as the series continues, he matures and actually becomes a responsible, reliable friend/lover to Anita all while still being genuinely funny and charming.
Chaste Hero: Anita, until "The Killing Dance." Then after "Blue Moon" she was having sex with both Jean-Claude and Richard. After that it was no longerthat way.
A Chat with Satan: Anita has a gut-checking chat with the Dark Lord in just about every book. Sometimes he's a conscienceless hitman, sometimes she's a necromancing grandma, but every time they try to hold up the mirror.
The Chessmaster: Looking through the books, it is very rare to find one that ends with Jean-Claude worse off than he started, and whenever we find out one of his goals, he achieves them. Including Anita.
Cold Sniper: Anita doesn't actually use a rifle, but alternatively broods about and revels in her ability to gun down potentially innocent people in a public setting with a completely empty mind, afterward feeling no trace of regret or pity.
The early ones, in which the books were actually about murders, necromancy, supernatural politics and so on. Later, of course, the covers became a perfectly accurate forecast of their content.
Made worse by the most recent releases that just feature a sexy, half-naked woman staring up at the reader with no indication of supernatural anything. The former books would usually have some supernatural elements on the cover—a wolf, a creepy tree, gravestones, a full moon, etc—but those went out the window as the plot turned to focus more on sex.
Hell, some of the latest covers imply these books are novelizations of the Saw series.
Creator Provincialism: The narrative focuses on Hamilton's hometown of St. Louis, but supernatural events take place all over the world, and Anita frequently travels for her work, especially later in the series.
Double Standard: Anita can have sex with just about anyone to slake the ardeur, but none of the men can have sex with each other, only Anita. This is later changed due to Anita's sudden bisexual feelings and she enjoys watching all the guys in her harem get it on with each other while she watches and has one of them servicing her as well.
Anita uses the ardeur to coerce men to have sex with her, and this is portrayed as acceptable. Yet when a woman tries to do the same to Anita, the woman is villanized for doing so.
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Anita frequently uses the ardeur to force men to sleep with her- London's screaming and begging for her to stop did not sound like he wanted to have sex with her. Of course, every time Anita uses the ardeur to do that is always treated like a normal, consensual sexual encounter.
It is, however, questionable if all of these encounters have Anita's consent either, as the ardeur can act as a metaphysical date rape drug on all parties involved.
Everyone Is Bi: Seems that way sometimes. Everyone except Anita, who may or may not be in the closet (especially when you consider how much she worries about being a good Christian...). At least until Bullet where Anita embraces bisexuality as well.
Fantastic Racism: There is considerable prejudice against both vampires and weres, and in some cases between lineages of vampires and species of lyncathropes (for example, werewolves regard wererats as inferior, some weretigers aren't too fond of any other species or even those fellow weretigers who aren't a purebred color, etc). One character develops a near murderous prejudice against vampires when his son becomes engaged to one and being infected by lycanthropy will generally get you fired if you're a teacher or in the medical profession even though it's technically illegal to.
In Blue Moon, A vampire flunky delivers a pinky finger to Anita as notification that Richard's family has been abducted.
In Bullet, A severed head is delivered to Anita's office at Animators Inc.
And again in Skin Trade.
First-Person Smartass: Anita, who seems to think that inner thoughts are the best place to show what a witty badass you are. In the early books she makes fun of it herself sometimes; "If I was less secure I'd think I just wasn't funny...nah."
Fur Against Fang: Vampires and weres don't always get along so well especially as many vampires can control weres.
Ghost Amnesia: Zombies need a little time to get their bearings. Even then their memory of when they were alive isn't perfect, and the longer they were dead the harder it is for them to remember.
God Save Us from the Queen!: Anita is queen of all the "were" groups, including wolf, leopard, tiger and she's clearly gearing up for lion queendom. She's also the human servant for the vampire master of St. Louis, whom she commands because she has necromancy powers. Unfortunately Anita rules by sexing the various male leaders into submission, as well as rape, physical infighting, illegal threats, and cold-blooded murder if you get in wrong with her.
Good People Have Good Sex: Despite the series' reputation for raunchiness, the vast vast majority of the sex—at least among the protagonists—is more tame than a lot of stuff you could see on the Playboy channel. The bad guys, meanwhile, tend to have penchants for rape, snuff, pedophilia, or BDSM of a level that leaves the floor awash in blood.
Grandfather Clause: Briefly brought up when discussing Jean Claude's club. With vampires, it matters.
Guilty Pleasures: The title of book 1, the name of a vampire-fetish bar therein, and probably a little wink from the author about the nature of the series. (And boy, do a lot of readers agree, especially since the big change.)
Anita Blake since Danse Macabre, at least. Two men kissing, while having anal sex with each other, just gets her off.
Anita does seem to have a Selective Squick going on; she comments that she might let Asher hook up with another guy if it doesn't "freak [her] out too much."
Belle Morte. When her men aren't having sex with her she entertains herself by having them have sex with each other.
Hair-Trigger Temper: Everybody around Anita, and at times she herself, will admit she qualifies. It's pointed out enough to almost be a running gag that she's only comfortable when angry at somebody and the only way to coexist with her is to always let her have everything her way and try to never say anything she might be uncomfortable with (the term "mine field" has come up). The men in her life tend to consider this part of what makes her so desirable.
Handsome Lech: Jean Claude, but that's a given since he's the charming Magnificent Bastard. Jason is infamous for this trope, but Zerbrowski may count as well because according to both his description and his comic book incarnation, he's not a bad looking dude.
Hates Small Talk: Anita Blake repeatedly mentions how little she likes small talk, and how much she appreciates those characters who don't indulge in it either, like Dolph and Edward.
Heroic BSOD: During Blue Moon, Anita and some of Richard's wolves torture a man for information, and end up in this. Jason snaps her out of it by reminding her that it doesn't matter if she becomes "one of the monsters" as long as she can protect the people she loves and that he would do the same.
I Just Want to Be Normal: Strangely enough, Anita is spared from this. Richard is the poster boy for this trope. It starts off pretty reasonable, but then he decides to dump her a second time in Narcissus in Chains because he "doesn't want to be with someone more at home with the monsters than I am."
Knife Nut: Anita isn't exactly nutty over her knives, but she sure likes them. She usually wears two silver-and-steel-alloy knives in shoulder sheaths, even with evening gowns; in later books she adds a machete-like weapon on her back.
The Lad-ette: Anita, especially earlier in the series, is a more hygienic version of this. She makes it very clear to anyone that will listen that's she's One of the Boys.
The Lancer: Edward and Ronnie seem to be Anita's human lancers. Jason seems to be her non-human one.
Level-Up at Intimacy 5: A rare non-video-game example. A triumvirate of a vampire, a lycanthrope, and a necromancer has much more power combined than the sum of their individual powers. But for it to work, all three have to be very fond of each other. A triumvirate doesn't have to be menage a trois (although, it implied, it often is), theoretically the triumvirs could just be very close friends.
Like Brother and Sister: Edward and Anita, which is much appreciated seeing as she fucks every other male character around her save Zerbrowski and Dolph, but Anita feels the need to point this out repeatedly in every novel as if we don't believe her, and so it gets old after a while. Especially when you consider Edward's fiancee Donna still manages to be jealous every time they go on a mission together. Perhaps the lady doth protest too much.
Mate or Die: Pretty much modus operandi of the ardeur. Comes in two flavors. First, the ardeur needs to be regularly fed by having sex (or absorbing someone else's arousal, which is hard and requires certain amount of experience); left without feeding, it starts to suck the lifeforce out of ardeur's holder and his/her mystical servants. Second, having sex can give a magical boost through the ardeur, and often it saves Anita's skin in a crisis.
Mindlink Mates: The default state of a vampire and his/her human servant and animal to call appears to be a menage-a-trois, meaning that the Psychic Link it constitutes is this in practice.
Monster Progenitor: The Mother of All Darkness may be this. Or she may be not the first vampire, but a creator of all now-existing vampire culture and society. It is hard to tell, and even Vampire Council members have different opinions on the subject.
My Girl Is a Slut: Anita, after "Narcissus In Chains." In fact, if Anita goes for a few pages without sex, her boyfriends start chastising her and reminding her to let more guys bang her. In fact, saying no is now verboten. If she tries to insist that she doesn't want to have sex with X, Y or Z, then the guys start telling her that she's ruining their lives and must have sex with them to ensure their happiness. The whole risking-death of herself and other people may have something to do with it.
One of the Boys: Particularly early Anita, aggressively so—so much so that it might reveal some troubling Author Avatar issues. One apt reader points out how Anita's gun is like a substitute penis. I.e, the only way she feels she can ever get respect is by having it with her at all times. She also insists that no one call her "girl" or "ma'am" and is actually happy when someone calls her a guy or a "son of a bitch." To even begin unpeeling the problems with this mentality would take years.
One-Hour Work Week: After Jumping the Shark, Anita almost never goes to work at her supposed job at Animators, Inc. In the books prior to "Narcissus in Chains," she regularly went to work and got in fights with her mostly unethical boss Burt, but after Ni C, she pretty much just shows up once in a blue moon to argue with potential clients. In true form with the trope, we're told her zombie raising skills earn her bucket loads of cash so that's why she never has any money problems.
Vampires grow in power the longer they've been dead, up to a certain limit which is different for each vampire. Additionally, some vampires are "born" (or made) with the potential to be a "Master Vampire" which:
Allows them to continue to exist (if not practically live) without being oath-bound to a master (whose power allows regular bound vampires to awaken (reanimate, really) each night).
Gives them a handful of powers which, while unique to that particular vampire, are usually influenced by their vampiric "ancestors".
Gives them a particular type of animal they can control, which gives them a limited degree of mind-control over were-animals of the same type.
Allows them to make a human "servant" via supernatural bonds which gives advantages to both the vampire and the human, including immortality for the human servant (which resolves any Mayfly-December Romance issues if the servant is their lover).
If their human servant is an animator/necromancer and they bond supernaturally to a were-animal of the type the can control (in a similar way that they bond to their human servant) then the three of them will form a "triumvirate" which can be used to generate a great deal of supernatural energy.
Our Werebeasts Are Different: There are many different kinds of werebeasts in this book. In addition to werewolves, there are wereleopards, werelions, weretigers (including blue, red and black tigers in the last book), at least three weredogs (their abilities are inherited not infection), weresnakes (at lest 2 species cobra and anaconda), swanmen (some are cursed others inherit their abilities like the weredogs), wererats, werebears, and werehyenas.
Parent with New Paramour: Anita's father married a pretty tall blonde, who went out of her way to mention that Anita was her husband's previous (now dead) wife's daughter, presumably to explain why Anita looks like she came from an affair.
Polyamory: Kind of a moot point since half her harem would die without her LifeEnergy—and vice versa, eventually—but Anita claims to love them all.
Purple Prose: Hamilton slips into this on occasion both before and after the aforementioned shark jumping. The results are either incredibly funny (on accident) or exceedingly painful to read through.
Rapunzel Hair: Several, but most notably Nathaniel of the ankle-length hair.
Rhetorical Request Blunder: Anita angrily says she wants a woman's "head in basket." She is shocked and horrified when it is delivered. Worth noting that the punishment for the person was execution anyway, Anita just...got the head.
Romanticized Abuse: The "four marks" enable a vampire to turn a person into a "human servant", whether the person wants to be or not. In addition, these marks force the person to fall in love (and in the Anita Blake universe, Sex Equals Love) with the vampire who has, effectively, mind-raped them. There's no way to break the bond without killing the person, either. So vampires can turn human beings into sex slaves. And they do it with no one punishing them for it. On the contrary, such permanent sex slavery is seen as a good thing.
Anita is in love with Richard, Richard is in love with Anita...the final stumbling block before they agree to engagement is to see him shapeshift, since the effect of his inhumanity spooks her a bit. Shapeshifting is pretty gruesome, so clearly, Richard, the solution is the pin her down, change right on top of her, and then eat someone in front of her. Anita is freaked out, especially since as Richard is in her head, she can psychically feel not only his desire to eat someone, but the entire pack's desire to eat her. It leads to a breakup when she bolts, traumatized, and Jean-Claude steps in to seduce her while she's huddled in shock in a bathtub; she sleeps with him - regretting it in the morning. All because after incessantly badgering him through the entire book, Richard finally did exactly what she kept pushing him to do. Gee, why would the split possibly be blamed on her?
In The Harlequin, Anita has to cut out the heart of a powerful human servant, but she is very weak and cannot grab it properly. Olaf helps her by thrusting his hand in the open wound, taking her hand and grabbing the heart together, and caresses her hand in the process. Anita gets the heart out and vomits immediately after.
Staking the Loved One: Anita gets asked to behead the body of a teenage girl before she rises a vampire. The request comes from the girl's parents.
Strictly Formula: The novels are immensely formulaic. Just read the description at the top of the page. The sex scenes also follow a general formula: Anita is propositioned by one or more people, but refuses on moral grounds. The ardeur takes over, hair is pulled and mutual screaming orgasms are achieved.
Stripperiffic: Many characters, most notably Anita and her harem.
Stuffed In A Fridge: A rare male version. The very first love interest Anita has in the books, Phillip, ends up getting tortured, eviscerated, and throat-slit by the villains — who then bring him back as a zombie just to twist the knife a little deeper. To top it off, as an animator, Anita's the one who has to lay Phillip's zombie to rest. The experience wrecks Anita emotionally — they weren't a couple, but Phillip had sacrificed himself for her, and she'd failed to keep her promise to save him. Later, Richard's resemblance to Phillip makes her hesitant towards a relationship with Richard.
Richard Zeeman is straight as an arrow, to the point of borderline homophobic, and originally, it was an issue that he tried to learn to deal with as he ascended in the pack. After his Character Development, he suddenly decided he was bisexual and was perfectly fine engaging in four ways as long as Anita was present to get her rocks off.
And of course Anita herself having sex with a woman in Bullet.
The Unfair Sex: Already noted in all of the mentions of one-way monogamy, but Richard gets a special mention. Anita runs off and sleeps with Jean-Claude while she and Richard are still in a nominally normal, theoretically monogamous relationship. Later, after Anita and Richard have broken up, Richard bragging about sleeping around with other women is intended to show what a Jerkass he is now (even as Anita is moving into her "hump anything in sight" phase).
The Unmasqued World: While vampires officially "outed" themselves some time ago, the world clearly has a long history of the masquerade taking a hit or being thin in some areas.
Wakeup Makeup: In the comics, Anita keeps having blood-red lips in every single panel, even after bathing and sleeping. What makes this even more ridiculous is that she once even states she doesn't wear makeup except for parties. Unneccessary to say, her party makeup doesn't change her looks much.
What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: most vampire masters get one kind of animal to control (with limited control over respective lycanthropes): rats, wolves, snakes... When Warrick becomes a master vampire, he gets butterflies. Subverted in that Warrick is overjoyed: he is The Atoner and considers his butterflies as a sign that God has forgiven him.
Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Anita often wonders about this trope in regard to Edward, who has shown up with derringers, tiny throwing knives, flamethrowers, homemade vampire killing bullets, etc. The question is answered initially because his legal alter ego is Ted Forrester, a bounty hunter, but Anita still maintains that Edward is just secretly Batman but with lethal force.