Just finished reading Danse Macabre by Laurell K. Hamilton, which is Book 14 of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of novels. In case anyone do not know, this is a series of dark fantasy novels whose main character is called Anita Blake.
She is a zombie queen- turned vampire executioner- turned detective- turned necromaner- turned succubi. Yes, a lot of thing happened to dear little Ms.Blake in the novels. She is so popular that her first novel, Guilty Pleasures was turned into a comics mini-series by Marvel. But this review isn't about the comics, it's about Book: 14.
The book starts with a possible pregnancy scare for Anita. Threatening to derail her life, even as she prepares to help Jean Claude, her vampire master, host several visiting Masters of the City. Some plots from the earlier books were given attention to. Anita discover that she will almost certainly be a shape-shifter. Whether she will be were-wolf, lion or leopard is up in the air but she feels her "beast" inside her. The only way to stop the change is to give the "beast" to another lycanthrope, aka have sex with them. Hey, she's a succubi. What do you expect?
Jean Claude and Anita also determined that the ardeur (her succubi power) is "seeking" food, pushing out power so that Anita can have sex with them. Specifically it may have shaped Anita's and her lovers' personalities to make them more compatible partners for one another. It also encourages the visiting Master of the City of Chicago to force Anita into feeding her ardeur on him.
Yes, there is a lot of sex in the book.
So, is the book any good? I am mixed on this. After the porno book that was Micah (Book: 13), this was a welcome back to form for the writer. I do warn that if you have not read the earlier novels, do NOT start with this book. Anita has many lovers in her life due to the ardeur and add even more to them after this book. If you have not read the earlier books, this one will be very confusing for you. And that's not even counting the various powers she has!
That is basically my biggest complaint about the book. Hamilton just add characters like there's no tomorrow. Anita has around 10 lovers by the end of this book, because of the no. of them, some of them hardly showed up at all. For example, Damian's main job seem to be threatening to die unless Anita has sex to generate more power to sustain him. If that's all he is doing, get rid of him then.
The no. of characters in the book, counting the vampires, bodyguards etc that showed up are just too much! Even I, who have read the earlier books, has a hard time keeping count. If you are a new reader, you will have no chance. What happened to Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter? One of the things that was great about the earlier book was how her job and personal life collided. This no longer happen. Does she still work with Dolph and RPIT? All we see is she having a lot of sex and helping Jean Claude. Some of the plotlines have just overstayed their welcome.
Still, it is much better than Micah. Anita seems more herself, a little tough, stubborn, and tactless ball of fire that could kill you in an instant without batting an eye. The possible pregnancy and her friendship with Claudia was by far the best thing about the book. Anita's breakdown due to the pregnancy was also very well-written, unfortunately her response afterwards was just unbelieveable. Go straight back to work after a breakdown?
Overall, Danse Macabre is not as good as some of the earlier novels but it's better than the last book. So there's hope for the future.