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Bite by Laurell K. Hamilton
Review by Drew Bittner
Jove Books Mass Market  ISBN/ITEM#: 051513970X
Date: 28 December, 2004 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Now that the holidays are past and winter's chill is setting in, it's time to settle back with a roaring fire, some hot chocolate and tales of -- vampires?

Bite is a collection of five tales of vampires, headlined by Anita Blake author Laurell K. Hamilton. In this volume, Hamilton offers a short tale of her famous heroine set between the events of Blue Moon and Obsidian Butterfly entitled, "The Girl Who Was Infatuated With Death." Setting out to stop an underage girl from joining the undead of St. Louis illegally, Anita confronts her own issues of love and death. The story reinforces the transition between the two novels with a bridging episode that will surely please longtime Blake fans.

Charlaine Harris has a short Sookie Stackhouse story, wherein her telepathic Southern waitress gets some unhappy news about a long missing relative? along with an unusual bequest. But even as she absorbs that, she finds she is in the middle of a power struggle that can only have a deadly outcome. With the help of her ex-boyfriend Vampire Bill, can Sookie survive a cat-and-mouse game with too many players?

MaryJanice Davidson introduces two new characters to her Undead and... series, featuring Betsy Taylor, her highly unusual vampire queen of Minneapolis (and fashion slave). Sophie (a vampire veterinarian) and Liam (a local who knows her secret) are forced into action when it seems a vampire murderer is on the loose. They need Betsy's help to run him to ground, if they can only get the vampire queen and her squabbling allies to listen for a moment. And, of course, there?s no time more inconvenient for love to rear its head?

Angela Knight's "Galahad" offers a new take on the Camelot paladin. Galahad is a vampire and Caroline Lang is a sorceress who needs to have her excess magic drained (in the form of blood) by vampires. Caroline and Galahad must track down a vampire who is recklessly creating more of their kind, raising the danger of a vampire Armageddon. Galahad may be one of the greatest warriors of Arthurian myth, but with an inexperienced witch at his side, can he overcome odds of a hundred to one?

Finally, Vickie Taylor's "Blood Lust" follows the revenge of Daniel Hart against a vampire heavyweight, whose sponsorship of Daniel's research was short-lived and ended unhappily (for Daniel). Enlisting the help of an aimless, self-destructive female vampire, Daniel finds that there are other things to live for besides revenge. Well, afterward, maybe.

All five tales are enjoyable, though "Galahad" is perhaps the weakest entry. Knight's interpretation of Galahad and her construction of a world requiring a balanced, covert collection of vampires and witches working in partnership seemed like a roleplaying game construct. The story is not a bad one, but by comparison, it is not as strong as the others. Hamilton provides a nice stand-alone Anita Blake story, one that is less caught up in the power escalation and sexual adventurism of the more recent novels; it plays into the older tension between her private and work lives, which (to me) was the most interesting situation for the character.

Davidson's Betsy is a minor character in this tale, but Sophie and Liam carry the plot superbly without her. They could easily become major supporting characters in her future novels. And Harris' Sookie is always a fun read, blending in the feel of the deep South (and its natural, ambient gothic atmosphere) with the small town urban horror of a Stephen King.

In all, if vampires are your thing, ring in the New Year with a quintet of entertaining tales in a single paperback.

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