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    Review of DANSE MACABRE by Laurell K. Hamilton (see her blog)


    Berkley, July 2006

    Jean-Claude has invited masters of the city from all over the United States to a vampire ballet performance and Anita Blake is on the spot. She needs more men to help her satisfy her vampire-like need for sex--the ardeur. The masters of the city see this as an opportunity to parade their best men in front of Anita, but these are vampires. Few settle for a simple agenda when more complicated plots are possible.

    Anita tells herself that she's a normal woman who wants what normal women want, but she has a hard time convincing herself. Her need to be the center of sexual attraction in the highly competitive and attractive vampire community is tearing at Jean-Claude's friendship with Asher, and with the female vampires who grow increasingly frustrated as males abandon them to have even a chance with Anita.

    Author Laurell K. Hamilton (see more reviews of novels by Hamilton) continues her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel with a two-day period in which Anita tests the suitability of various candidates for her pomme de sange, threatens to shake up the hierarchy of vampire rulers, worries about whether she is pregnant (and if she is pregnant, who the father might be), grows increasingly frustrated with sometimes-lover Richard, and asserts dominance over just about everyone around (even including her supposed master, Jean-Claude).

    There is certainly a strong element of female fantasy here. Who wouldn't like to be the center of everyone's attention, the one woman so desired that men would stop having sex with others only for the chance to be considered for their bed? Who wouldn't want to be loved by multiple lovers at once--each focused only on your own pleasure? Who wouldn't want to be so sexually compelling that even women found you irresistable and strong vampires and were creatures trembled when you approached? So, what's not to like? For me, what's not to like is Anita. It's hard to understand what she's so angsty about. She is head of the harem no matter what Jean-Claude might think (or what Anita might tell him). The world revolves around Anita and she hasn't really done anything to deserve it. Like Richard, she's caught up in her 'poor little me' games and can't seem to realize it (although she does get close from time to time, and Jean-Claude forcefully points out to her how similar to Richard she is behaving).

    DANSE MACABRE really picks up steam when the evil Belle Morte channels herself through Anita--and even more so when the slowly waking Mother of All Darkness comes onto the scene. Unfortunately, these scenes are too short and then the whole ardeur thing is back.

    Laurell K. Hamilton is a talented writer and she milks the story for every bit of interest she can. The ballet scene is good, sex with Asher is interesting, and the danger of the Mother of All Darkness is patent. But Anita spends too much time introspecting without seeing anything of herself, worrying about the ardeur as if you can't enjoy sex without feeling guilty about it first, and generally going around being the most desirable thing ever. Simply put, DANSE MACABRE needs more story.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 7/31/05

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