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Danse Macabre

by Laurell K Hamilton

(US edition: Berkley Books, 2006. US $25.95 / Canada $34.00 hardback, 483 pages; ISBN: 0-425-20797-8. UK edition: Orbit, 2006, hardcover, £12.99, 483 pages; ISBN: 1-84149-474-7.)

Review by Elizabeth Barrette

Four stars.

cover scanDanse Macabre is the fourteenth book in the popular "Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter" series by Laurell K. Hamilton. If you haven't read the earlier books, go back and do that (starting with Guilty Pleasures) before you read this one, because Danse Macabre relies on series continuity.

Several threads wind through this volume. First is the title thread: a troupe of vampire dancers coming to St. Louis, and attracting many Masters of the City to their performance (and the parties that Jean-Claude throws as one of their main sponsors). That means the local preternatural community has to convince all those powerful people to work and play well with others. Second is the thread that opens the story: Anita Blake worrying that she might be pregnant. This dire possibility overshadows almost everything else. Third is the thread that perpetually threatens to destabilize the others: Anita and her allies keep growing in power, and new powers are hard to control. It echoes the continuing hints that the Mother of All Darkness is slowly awakening to threaten the world.

I was disappointed that the vampire dance company didn't get more development and plot action. The setup takes so much space that there's little room left for the show itself, and the concept was cool. But the character evolution is complex and fascinating. After dragging her feet through the first nine or ten books, Anita has spent the last several books admitting that some of her hang-ups are getting other people hurt and killed, so she's trying to find new ways of solving problems and relating with people. Few things are as gratifying as watching a strong, stubborn character get beaten with a clue-by-four until the clue actually sinks in.

Danse Macabre is a must-read for fans of Laurell K. Hamilton. If you like erotic horror, you're in for quite a show.

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