Hilary M. Leon

Why We Love the Monsters: How Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Wound Up

Dating the Enemy

(1) The title characters of Joss Whedon’s television drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels, are the latest in a distinguished line of protectors of humanity against supernatural threat. Following in the footsteps of Bram Stoker’s Professor Van Helsing, they dedicate their lives to the destruction of the monsters threatening the mortal population. Yet the two women possess some unusual qualities which make them unique among the vampire slayers of history. The traits themselves are surprising, but what makes them particularly intriguing is the degree to which they are shared by these modern slayers.

Book covers from Amazon.com.

(2) Anita Blake and Buffy Summers are alike in many superficial characteristics, making comparisons between them inevitable. Both are relatively young: Buffy is introduced as a high school sophomore, while Anita, at twenty-four, is only a few years out of college. Each attracts attention with her petite, pretty appearance, physical dexterity, and intelligence. Both resort to witty, sarcastic remarks, particularly when threatened. As is traditional among vampire slayers of literature and film, the two women take their responsibilities as hunters seriously, giving up a great deal to fulfill their obligations to those they protect.

(3) These sacrifices, and the slayers’ painful awareness of them, contribute to Anita and Buffy’s most interesting shared quality: both are reluctant slayers. Each longs for a safe and ordinary life, and especially for a normal relationship with someone of the opposite sex. It is this longing that significantly defines these modern slayers. Anita and Buffy seek to resolve these desires, while continuing to fulfill their duties as vampire hunters. In their struggles, they are forced, as slayers seldom are, to confront the ambiguity of their role: as human protectors who are not quite human, as killers whose victims are both predators and prey, and as women whose lives offer little room for ordinary passions.

The Hand of Fate

Kendra: “You talk about slaying like it’s a job. It’s not. It’s who you are.