Monday, July 24, 2006

DANSE MACABRE by Laurell K. Hamilton

Beth reviews DANSE MACABRE (Berkley Books, 2006):


Laurell K. Hamilton whetted my appetite for her “Anita Blake” series again with a paperback entitled Micah, after Anita’s wereleopard lover. In this paperback we delve deeper into Anita’s growing powers and her relationship with Micah. Anita, filling in for a colleague, heads to Philadelphia to raise a federal witness for testimony. This trip offers her and Micah some much needed time alone. Anita is happy to have him along, “until he mentioned that this will be our first time alone together. No Master Vampire. No Alpha Werewolf. Just me and Micah. And all my fears and doubts..."

Micah finishes with a thread dangling, a thread that led me to her recently released hardback, Danse Macabre. In this, the 14th novel of the vampire series, Anita discovers she might be pregnant. Due to the ardeur*, she requires multiple partners...totaling six potential fathers. On top of this stress, Anita and Jean-Claude, Master Vampire of the City, are proud to be the host city of the vampiric ballet troupe and the gathering of the North American vampire Masters of the City. Anita must struggle through the evening with possible new pomme de sang* at every turn, vampire politics and wondering how a baby could fit into her federal marshal/raising the dead lifestyle.

The Anita Blake series was a favorite of mine (and also several of my friends) until recently. We read the first several novels with great interest; now her readership is down to only me out of our group. I recommended Micah wholeheartedly to them (and her other devoted fans). It has everything we had come to expect: vampires, murder, raising of the dead and just a little sex for spice. However Danse Macabre relied more on the ardeur* and its effects on Anita than on plot. Sure we get to learn how she is growing and maturing as a person. We learn that she does choose her lovers carefully and deeply cares for them all. We see that even though she has several strains of lycanthropy* running through her veins, she is a human woman at heart—with fears like us: fears of pregnancy, of intimacy, of herself. However I was left missing the chase, the vampire raising...the very essence of Anita Blake, vampire hunter and executioner.

ardeur: translates to "heat": The arduer is a need to feed from lust. It's a hunger that can never be satiated, but after a fashion, it can be controlled. The only way it can be fed is through sexual energy. It does not necessarily need to be intercourse, and blood can be involved, but the main component is lust.
pomme de sang: translates to apple of blood: individuals who are considered willing food for the vampires.
lycanthropy: Lycanthropes are preternatural creatures with the ability to change their shape.

Information courtesy of Halo Productions.

Beth, Highland Branch Library

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I have noticed Laurell K. Hamilton's novels and often thought "I should read that. That looks interesting." Your review motivates me to do so because you reveal what a rich, intricate world Hamilton has created ("Vampiric ballet troupe?...sounds fascinating).

What drew you and your friends to Hamilton's work in the beginning?
In this review and in the one for TWELVE SHARP by Janet Evanovich, you've identified what MUST be a critical issue for serial novelists: how much should change and how much should remain the same. Some readers want to see their favorite characters evolve, but too much *growth* and they lose their initial appeal.

It's amazing that Evanovich has written twelve Stephanie Plums and can still make us laugh (even though the belly laugh quotient is lower :-) ).

It seems that many of the fiction titles in the POPULAR LIBRARY (aka the 7-day check-out books) are part of a series.

Since the inception of this blog, I've read ones from Harlen Coben, Martha Grimes, Tami Hoag, and Jonathan Kellerman. I had NOT read any other novels in these series. Only PROMISE ME by Harlen Coben seemed strong enough to stand alone. For the others, I felt that I should have started from the beginning.

I am sensing a Memphis Reads Questions here (smile)...DD
Honestly, I have no idea what drew us to Laurell K Hamilton. I believe we all found her on our own (before we even met) and discovered that we all liked her by accident! It's always amazing when friends continue to find commonalities among each other.

I enjoy horror/suspense books and just stumbled on her work—possibly by her cover art alone! (You’ve heard all about me and cover art…*grin*) Once I picked up the first one, I was hooked! I enjoy both her Anita Blake series and her Meredith Gentry novels.
How does one "raise the dead"?
According to Hamilton, it involves special powers of necromancy, blood (either animal or human--but not a human scarifice) and a circle of protection (to keep the risen from moving away from their grave...where you want to put them back to!)

Anita is one of the "best" necromacers--not only from her own powers, but from those she gains from her bonds with Jean Claude and Richard (the king of the werewolves). She is called to raise the dead often... and always with results. Sometimes too good results!
Anita is a vampire hunter. She's also a vampire, right? So some vampires are criminals and others are law abiding and police the criminals?

Did you ever read any of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series? I am assuming that Buffy was not a vampire. Were all vampires *bad* in this series?

Can you (or others reading these comments) recommend similar titles that may appeal to Anita Blake fans?

The closest thing that I've read to Danse Macabre may be Tananarive Due's My Soul to Keep...a journalist discovers that her husband, David, is an immortal. He's not a vampire, but a member of a secret society of super-men who gained eternal life in a ceremony which brought them in contact with a man whose blood was infused with Jesus'. David sincerely loves his wife and daughter but he is a ruthless killer. I think I finally put this book down at 5 a.m.
Let's see...where to begin?

First, Anita is not a vampire. She is many things--necromancer, a vampire's human servant, "Queen" of the wolves and the leopards, federal marshal and a legal Vampire Executioner for a three state area--but vampire is not one of them.

I did not read any of the Buffy series, but did watch it and Angel on television. I have not yet found another vampire series like the Hamilton’s to recommend. However there are tons of vampire books out there. I just finished Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. It takes a completely different look at vampires--why they don't walk in the sun, do they age, do they have to drink human blood, etc. I LOVED it!
In answer to the request for other vampire books I LOVE Christine Feehan's Dark series (book 1 is dark prince) Her Vampire's are actually Carpathian's a race of people like vampires that live among us, when one of them gives up their soul because they haven't found their lifemate they become vampires and the hunters among the Carpathians must destroy them. There are quite a lot of books in this series and each has the same basic premise between them but 2 new hero/heroines along with characters from the previous books with a new storyline/twist. I really enjoy them and with LKH taking Anita in a direction I hate I'd recommend these books instead.

Another series I LOVE that isn't exactly vampires but is supernatural men/women finding love in the same genre is Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark hunter series and in fact I love these books so much I have read them all multiple times.

Both these authors have websites with extracts/chapters from each book which I love as it gives you a chance to get a feel for their style before you have to decide.

Give them a go you won't be disappointed!!
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