Before Buffy, Sookie Stackhouse, or Bella Swan entered the scene, Anita Blake was navigating her own complicated relationship with vampires and the supernatural. If vampires, werewolves, romance, and mystery intrigue you, then you’ll want to read the Anita Blake series in order.
Who is Laurell K. Hamilton?
As previously mentioned, Laurell K. Hamilton is the author of the Anita Blake series. As well, she has written other works including the Merry Gentry books, another supernatural series. Both the Anita and Merry series follow female protagonists as they gain power and confront the dangerous realities of living in a world where creatures of legends roam.
Hamilton was born in rural Arkansas, but moved to northern Indiana where she grew up and was raised by her grandmother. She currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her family, which is also the setting for her Anita Blake series.
#1 Anita Blake Series in Order of Publication
While each book contains its own overarching story and can be read as a standalone, the best way to read the Anita Blake series in order is in following the order of publication. Here is every main novel in the Anita Blake series.
- Guilty Pleasures (1993)
- The Laughing Corpse (1994)
- Circus of the Damned (1995)
- The Lunatic Cafe (1996)
- Bloody Bones (1996)
- The Killing Dance (1997)
- Burnt Offerings (1998)
- Blue Moon (1998)
- Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
- Narcissus in Chains (2001)
- Cerulean Sins (2003)
- Incubus Dreams (2004)
- Micah (2006)
- Danse Macabre (2006)
- The Harlequin (2007)
- Blood Noir (2008)
- Skin Trade (2009)
- Flirt (2009)
- Bullet (2010)
- Hit List (2011)
- Kiss the Dead (2012)
- Affliction (2013)
- Jason (2014)
- Dead Ice (2015)
- Crimson Death (2016)
- Serpentine (2018)
- Sucker Punch (2020)
- Rafael (2021)
- Smolder (March 2023)
- Slay (Expected: November 7, 2023)
Short Stories and Novellas
Laurell K. Hamilton has also published short stories and novellas that take place in this world. We’ve listed those works below in publication order, but the best way to experience this additional reading material is in reading the Anita Blake series in chronological order, which is included just a bit further down.
- Bite (2004) (Novella)
- Cravings (2004) (Novella)
- Strange Candy (2006) (Short Story Collection)
- Beauty (2012) (Short Story)
- Dancing (2013) (Short Story)
- Shutdown (2013) (Short Story – No longer available)
- Wounded (2016) (Short Story)
- A Girl, a Goat, and a Zombie (2016) (Short Story – No longer available)
- Zombie Dearest (2020) *
Zombie Dearest, marked with an asterisk above, is available to read in Laurell K. Hamilton’s anthology Fantastic Hope.
#2 Anita Black Series in Chronological Order
If you have already read the series and are looking for a new way to reread the books, or are looking to make sure you’ve read all the Anita Blake content there is, the chronological timeline is the right reading order for you.
While it is important to read the novellas and short stories in the appropriate chronological order as they often bleed into either the book before or after, it is not recommended to begin this series with the short story collection Strange Candy. The events in the Anita Blake short stories within that collection do predate the main series. However, having an understanding of the character and the world through starting the first full-length novel first will allow for a better reading experience.
- Strange Candy (Short Story Collection)
- Guilty Pleasures
- The Laughing Corpse
- Circus of the Damned
- The Lunatic Cafe
- Bloody Bones
- The Killing Dance
- Burnt Offerings
- Blue Moon
- Bite (Novella)
- Obsidian Butterfly
- Narcissus in Chains
- Cerulean Sins
- Incubus Dreams
- Cravings (Novella)
- Danse Macabre
- The Harlequin
- Blood Noir
- Skin Trade
- Hit List
- Kiss the Dead
- Beauty (Short Story)
- Dancing (Short Story)
- Shutdown (Short Story – No longer available)
- Dead Ice
- Wounded (Short Story)
- Crimson Death
- A Girl, a Goat, and a Zombie (Short Story – No longer available)
- Zombie Dearest (Short Story)
- Sucker Punch
- Smolder (Expected: March 21, 2023)
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Graphic Novels
In addition to the main series, Laurell K. Hamilton is also the creator behind the graphic novel adaptations of the Anita Blake series. The graphic novels were published by Marvel. This trio of graphic novels is adapted from the first book in the series: Guilty Pleasure.
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse Graphic Novels
The next trio of graphic novels are adapted from Laurell K. Hamilton’s second book in the Anita Blake series: The Laughing Corpse.
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Circus of the Damned Graphic Novels
Finally, the last trio of graphic novels that have been published so far have been adapted from the third Anita Blake book: Circus of the Damned.
What is the Anita Blake Series All About?
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter is a dark urban fantasy series that borders on horror with explicit sexual themes and an uncurrent of mystery.
It takes place in a parallel universe that is quite similar to our own. Except, that is, that vampires, werewolves, and all sorts of creatures that go bump in the night exist and their existence is common knowledge.
Our protagonist is Anita Blake. She is a professional zombie animator, legal vampire executioner, and a police consultant on all things supernatural. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri and the series follows her as she attempts to solve supernatural mysteries, come to terms with her abilities, and navigate complicated relationships.
There has been a shift in tone throughout the book series that has received mixed reaction from readers. Around the tenth book, Narcissus in Chains, the series moved from being predominately supernatural thrillers with romance elements to having much stronger sexual themes.
In 2012 the author Laurell K. Hamilton addressed this criticism in a blog post. Hamilton advised readers that life is too short to read anything they do not enjoy. Furthermore, she encouraged those who no longer like her books to stop reading them.
But with six million copies of this series in print, there is a dedicated fan base that adores Hamilton’s books.
There have been 28 full-length novels published in the series so far, and Hamilton has no plans to end the series anytime soon. The series also includes multiple short stories, novellas, and comic books which we’ve compiled below.
A Summary of the Anita Blake Series in Order
1. Guilty Pleasures
Anita Blake is small, dark, and dangerous. Her turf is the city of St. Louis. Her job is re-animating the dead and killing the undead who take things too far.
But when the city’s most powerful vampire asks her to solve a series of vicious slayings, Anita must confront her greatest fear. Because she is undeniably attracted to Master Vampire Jean-Claude, one of the creatures she is sworn to destroy.
2. The Laughing Corpse
Harold Gaynor offers Anita Blake a million dollars to raise a 300-year-old zombie. But knowing it means a human sacrifice will be necessary, Anita turns him down.
Unfortunately, that’s when dead bodies start turning up. Anita soon realizes that someone else has raised Harold’s zombie – and that the zombie is a killer. Now she must pit her power against the zombie and the voodoo priestess who controls it.
In The Laughing Corpse Anita will learn that there are some secrets better left buried – and some people better off dead.
3. Circus of the Damned
In Circus of the Damned a rogue Master Vampire hits town, and Anita gets caught in the middle of an undead turf war.
Jean-Claude, the Master Vamp of the city, wants her for his own, but his enemies have other plans. And to make matters worse, Anita takes a hit to the heart when she meets a stunningly handsome junior high school science teacher named Richard Zeeman. They’re two humans caught in the crossfire – or so Anita thinks.
4. The Lunatic Cafe
Anita Blake is a preternatural expert in both zombie animation and vampire slaying. She’s one of the good guys in a world full of bad things, and she’s overcome a lot of bad so far in her life.
But now Anita has fallen for the leader of a local pack of werewolves. She’s survived a lot, but this love thing may kill her yet.
5. Bloody Bones
When Branson, Missouri, is hit with a death wave – four unsolved murders – it doesn’t take an expert to realize that all is not well. But luckily for the locals, Anita is an expert in just the kinds of preternatural goings-on that have everyone spooked. She also happens to have an “in” with just the kind of creature who can make sense of the slayings: A sexy Master Vampire known as Jean Claude.
6. The Killing Dance
Dating both a vampire and a werewolf isn’t easy. But just to complicate Anita’s already messy life, someone has put a price on her head. Love cannot save her this time, so she turns to Edward, hitman extraordinaire, for help.
But finding the person behind the threat won’t be easy, because as both a vampire hunter and zombie reanimator, Anita has made a lot of enemies – both human and otherwise.
7. Burnt Offerings
Above all, Anita Blake had always believed that you can’t trust anyone who sleeps with monsters. But now she’s sharing a bed with the Master Vampire of the city.
She seems to be developing a soft spot in her heart for vampires – one in particular. So, when an arsonist’s fires begin licking at St. Louis’s undead, it’s up to Anita to save the very monsters she’s sworn to destroy.
8. Blue Moon
When she chose Master Vampire Jean-Claude over her ex-fiancé, alpha werewolf Richard Zeeman, Anita learned that sometimes love is not enough. But though she and Richard won’t be walking down any aisles, she can’t turn her back on him when he’s arrested on a rape charge in Tennessee.
Anita knows firsthand that Richard has the morals of a saint – or at least of a boy scout. But his guilt or innocence is not the issue. Right now he’s behind bars, and in five days a full moon will rise…
9. Obsidian Butterfly
There are a lot of monsters in Anita Blake’s life, and some of them are even human. For instance, one such individual is the man she calls Edward, a bounty hunter who specializes in the preternatural.
He calls her to help him hunt down the greatest evil she has ever encountered. It is something that kills and maims and vanishes into the night. Moreover, it is something Anita will have to face alone…
10. Narcissus in Chains
Just returned to St. Louis after six months away, Anita is still no closer to choosing between her lovers: Jean-Claude, a vampire, and Richard, a werewolf. But she has to rely on both for help after two of the wereleopards that she has been watching are abducted at a seedy club called Narcissus in Chains.
Anita and her boyfriends rescue the wereleopards from the sinister people holding them, but Anita is wounded in the fight and put at risk of becoming a wereleopard herself. Richard angrily captures the wereleopard he believes is responsible and threatens to execute him.
Now, Anita must rescue that wereleopard from Richard and the werewolves he leads, even as she mourns the apparent end of her relationship with him. Then she realizes that those who kidnapped the first two wereleopards are targeting other lycanthropes. And she just might be next.
11. Cerulean Sins
Anita Blake is trying to get her life back to normal after a break-up with her werewolf lover. So she has settled into a pattern of domesticity with the new man in her life, Micah, and Jean-Claude, Master Vampire of the City.
Things are as peaceful as they ever get for someone who raises the dead, when Jean-Claude receives an unexpected and unwelcome visitor: Musette, the very beautiful, very twisted representative of the European Council of Vampires. Anita soon finds herself caught up in a dangerous game of vampire power politics. To add to her troubles, she is consulting on a series of brutal killings, which seem to be the work of something un-human.
The investigation leads her to Cerulean Sins, a vampire-run establishment that deals in erotic videos, videos that cater to very specific tastes. Anita knows one creature of the night who has such interests – Jean-Claude’s visitor. But if Anita brings Musette down, the repercussions could cost her everything she holds dear.
12. Incubus Dreams
Anita’s life is more complicated than ever, as she is caught between her obligations to the living and the undead. A vampire serial killer who preys on strippers is on the loose. But called in to consult on the case, Anita fears a conflict of interest is clouding her judgement.
For she is, after all, the consort of Jean-Claude, the ever-intoxicating Master Vampire of the City. Surrounded by suspicion, overwhelmed by her attempts to control the primal lusts that continue to wrack her, Anita does something unprecedented: She calls for help.
There are lots of reasons to raise the dead – some private, some public.
In this installment of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, the feds have a witness who died before he could speak on the record. They want him raised so his testimony can be taken. So Anita boards a plane to Philadelphia.
But she’s not alone. She’s been joined by Micah, head of the St. Louis wereleopard pard, and also the only one of her lovers who can stir her blood with a mere glance.
Anita is happy to have him by her side until he mentions that this will be their first time alone together. That is to say no Master Vampire or Alpha Werewolf. Just Anita and Micah, along with all her fears and doubts…
14. Danse Macabre
Anita Blake should be concentrating on a dangerous situation. The ardeur, the sexual power that flows between Anita, Jean-Claude, and Richard is reaching new levels, perhaps evolving into something entirely new. It seems to be choosing new lovers for Anita and acting with a will of its own.
The unexpected effect of this is that Jean-Claude’s own powers as a Master Vampire have grown to new levels – and Richard, always unpredictable, is changing too. However, as the days pass Anita finds herself less interested in vampire politics than in an altogether more personal concern.
Because she may be pregnant. And if she is, whether the father is a vampire, a werewolf, or something else entirely, she knows full well that being a Federal Marshall, known for raising the dead and executing vampires, is no way to bring up a baby.
15. The Harlequin
Anita Blake is about to face the challenge of her life. Into her world – a world already overflowing with power – have come creatures so feared that powerful, centuries-old vampires refuse to mention their names.
It is forbidden to speak of The Harlequin unless you’ve been contacted. Furthermore, to be contacted by The Harlequin is to be under a sentence of death.
When this comes to fruition, long-time rivals for Anita’s affections, Jean-Claude, Master Vampire of the City, and Richard, alpha-werewolf, will need to become allies. Shapeshifters Nathaniel and Micah will also have to step up their support.
And then there’s Edward. In this situation, Anita knows that she needs to call the one man who has always been there for her…
Looking for more like the Anita Blake series in order?
Check out this list of The Dresden Files book order.