Top critical review
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on 31 August 2006
Writing a bestselling series seems to be a sign of creative doom, because sooner or later the author starts writing for the sake of the series, not because it actually takes the story anywhere.
Sadly this is the case in the latest moribund volume of the Anita Blake series, "Danse Macabre." The entire plotless, meandering mess seems to have been written for two reasons: money, and to blow a big raspberry at Laurell K. Hamilton's readers. Given the only real plot development is a pregnancy scare, it doesn't seem worth it.
Anita has a new dilemma -- she might be pregnant, which isn't surprising for a woman who has spent the last few books being shagged left, right and every way to Sunday by every vamp, human and lycanthrope imaginable. What's more, many powerful vampires are arriving in St. Louis, including a vampiric ballet troupe in Jean-Claude's territory.
As if this weren't bad enough, the ardeur seems to be showing signs of seeking out new sex partners for her, and is affecting her lovers as well -- and her lycanthropic and vampiric edges are starting to affect those around her. Can Anita regain control of her increasingly unstable life?
Those desperately hoping that the plot will return in "Danse Macabre" can hang their heads and weep. There isn't a shred of actual plot in this book that isn't connected to the ardeur in some way -- no detecting, no zombies, no nothing. In fact, the biggest chill in this entire book is the pregnancy scare.
This isn't a plot in the sense that it really goes nowhere and nothing ever really comes of it; the book is left open-ended for the inevitable next volume. Even Hamilton doesn't seem to know what to do with the plot, since the writing is repetitive and often rather colourless.
And it's crammed with voyeuristic vamps, endless sexathons, and the suggestion that the ardeur might be binding Anita's lovers to her. As if the whole ardeur plot weren't nauseating enough, the Masters show up with more hot lovers so Anita can satisfy the strengthened ardeur. How very nice of them -- for Anita, not for the readers.
What's more, Hamilton has tossed out even the pretense of civility. The book starts with an appalling scene where, for daring to criticize Anita's hedonistic ways, Ronnie is dismissed as a bitter prude who is just jealous that Anita gets to bed all these hot guys. It would be a hilarious scene, if it weren't for the obvious razzie to her readers.
Anita herself remains an empty shell, who alternately fusses about whether she's a slut and hisses at anyone who says she is. The women are all nasty and catty, while the men uniformly adore her. The only exception is Richard, who really does seem like the only quasi-normal person in the whole book. Hamilton obviously expects us to scoff at his prudishness, but instead I found myself sympathizing with him.
"Danse Macabre" has a cool title, but not much between the pages. Between the nonexistant plot and porn subplots, it's hard to see why anyone would want this dance.