on July 13, 2003
For those of you who're new to this series: Anita Blake, vampire hunter/zombie reanimator extraordinare, is involved with two men. One's a werewolf (he's the "nice" boyfriend) and one's a vampire ("naughty" boyfriend). For most of the series, she's been doggedly keeping her dual relationship chaste -- and the sexual tension has been stretching tighter and tighter, like a rubber band. In "The Killing Dance," it finally snaps -- and what a relief! Thanks, Laurell. You've been torturing your readers for so long, and now we finally get the payoff.
On a non-raunchy note, this book is just as action-packed, gory, and darkly humorous as the last five. In it, Anita is faced with three annoying dillemas. One: She's been approached by a vampire with a hideous blood-related disease who hopes that, as a powerful necromancer, she can cure him. Two: Her wolfish boyfriend, Richard, is trying to overthrow the current alpha male of the local pack and become alpha himself -- but since he refuses to kill anyone, he's likely to get himself killed instead. Three: An unknown someone has put a bounty on her head, and now she's become the target of various local assassins. Throw in an expansive supporting cast of bloodsuckers, werebeasts, zombies, cops, lawyers, etc., and you've got the usual tale. Ms. Hamilton is great at keeping our interest and making us care about the characters. I won't say which boyfriend Anita goes all the way with (some other reviewer on this page has probably given it away already), but it's still rather exciting to those of us who faithfully follow Anita's exploits.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go buy the rest of this series.
on July 5, 2004
These Anita Blake novels get better and better with each installment and Laurell K. Hamilton has outdone herself with The Killing Dance. What I love most about this novel is that it contains a particular unforgettable chapter. More on that later. The strong, independent, trigger-happy heroine's new dilemma is way out of her league. Someone has put a price on her head and it is up to her and her assassin friend (of sorts) Edward to find out who wants her out of the picture and why. Many people have wanted Anita dead, but this one's an unknown enemy, something that does not sit well with her. Seeking refuge from her two boyfriends, vampire master of the city Jean-Claude and alpha werewolf Richard, will give her enough time to investigate the murder of a vampire and a declared battle among lycanthropes before the hit man finds her...
The sixth part of the series is centered more on shape shifters, lycanthropes and whether or not Richard decides to be courageous (a sugarcoated way of putting it, really) enough to fight to the death with another alpha werewolf. His self-righteousness got irritating at times. Richard was fun and flirtatious in Circus of the Damned, but I no longer see anything remotely appealing about him. Why Anita loves him so much is beyond me. Jean-Claude on the other hand becomes sexier and more compelling in each installment. The love triangle between Anita, Richard and JC comes to a head in this one and readers will finally get some of the erotica that's been promised to them since Guilty Pleasures. But Ms. Hamilton makes us wait awhile until we get to read the juicy chapter I mentioned earlier. You can cut the sexual tension with a knife before said chapter comes along. But it was worth the wait. This is by far by the best part of the series! I cannot wait to continue to read more of these great characters, especially Jean-Claude. He's truly one sexy vampire! He can call me "ma petite" any time. :-)
on January 11, 2004
This is definitely my favorite Anita Blake novel yet. Why? Because it finally fulfills the promise of 5 previous books' worth of sexual tension between Anita and her two suitors, the vampire Jean-Claude and the werewolf Richard. And trust me, things do not turn out the way you'd expect.
As always, there are several subplots in this book that ultimately get woven together. One has Anita learning there's been a half-million dollar hit placed on her. Another involves a request from one of Jean-Claude's vampiric rivals, Sabin, to heal his disfiguring disease. And then there's Richard, who finally grows a pair and decides to go forward with his coup of his werewolf pack, throwing out the old leaders, Marcus and Raina.
If, however, you're like me and you care more about the characters than the eighty-seven guns Anita carries and exactly how she uses them, all you're going to care about is that Anita finally makes her choice between her boyfriends, after several steamy scenes with each (and one with both!). The relationship between all three takes a surprising turn, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it's handled in forthcoming books.
The only downside is the often-interminable descriptions of werewolf culture. Every time we turn around, there's another (often contradictory) point of protocol that has to be explained to Anita. Frankly, Hamilton gets carried away, instead of making it a simple hierarchy. It's all an effort to make the final showdown between Marcus and Richard a fairer fight, but it gets in the way of us believing that lycanthropes live normal lives three and a half weeks out of every month.
On the other hand, maybe reminding us that the werewolves aren't human was Hamilton's point, since Anita's acceptance of Richard's double life is key here. After nagging him for months to accept violence, can she really handle seeing her maybe-fiancé rip out someone's throat with his teeth? What about Jean-Claude, who looks like he may be willing to give up on ever being with Anita? (And this may be the first time, apart from a kiss in the very first book in the series, that I really believed how in love with her he is.) Oh, yeah, and someone wants Anita dead, bad (although the revelation of who took out the hit is anticlimactic at best), which brings mysterious hit man Edward back to her side in the dubious role of protector.
The best book to date in an above-average series. Very high on sex and violence (sometimes at the same time).
on March 11, 2003
As if life wasn't hard enough for Anita Blake: vampire hunter/executioner, zombie-raiser, necromancer - now someone has a contract out on her for half a million dollars. She is notified about this from her seemingly only HUMAN male friend, Edward, who was offered the hit but passed it up. Now, while trying to dodge unseen enemies, she also must try and help a rotting vampire get rid of his icky disease, and try and talk her werewolf boyfriend Richard into becoming more of a - get this - killer. Then, add to all of that the huge decision Anita must face: should she choose Richard, or the vampire Jean-Claude? I'm rooting more for Jean-Claude personally, but I kind of wish she would just choose someone a little more human.
I read a lot of reviews from people saying that this is their favorite Anita Blake novel. I can't say it is mine. I was hoping more for the hit-man story to develope, but a lot of the book had to do with ho-hum Richard and his rat pack of wereanimals. However, there was one scene that made this book irresistible, and it started at about page 335. At about page 344, I wanted a cigarette - and I don't even smoke! I'd say this particular part is worth the read alone, and will satisfy any fan who has been loyal all the way up from "Guilty Pleasures". Still, though it is not my favorite novel so far, it kept my interest up until the end, like all of the rest. Needless to say, I can't wait to get onto book seven.
on October 23, 2002
Poor Anita Blake! Man or woman, monster or human, it seems like everybody in St. Louis wants to have sex with her. Or kill her. Or both. No wonder she's stressed out. What she needs is a nice long Alaskan cruise, not a new, enigmatic, decaying client, a disintegrating soul who happens to be a peer of one of her two boyfriends. Nor does Anita really need to find out that someone has taken a contract out on her life. Snuggling up with the Tony Soprano of the St. Louis preternatural underworld isn't really going to help her relax.
Let's face it, anybody reading Book Six of a series probably is already a fan of the author. Any other readers are strongly advised that this book, THE KILLING DANCE, stands poorly on its own. Long time readers will already have accepted the fascinating if not exactly clearly thought-out premise behind the series. They will have become accustomed to the non-stop action-cramped plots, and the drawn-out dilemmas facing Anita Blake, who fate has assigned too many roles and too many skills.
Even fans of the Anita Blake books cannot consider this one of the best. Anita's characteristic dry wit fails her here as she utters feeble observations on the absurdity of her experience rather than caustic banter about mixing fashion and firearms. In this book, the contract on Anita's life is the driver for the plot, but Anita willingly puts her life in increasingly dangerous situations that have little bearing on the hitman storyline. Sadly, the Anitaverse starts to make less and less sense, while characters, both human and demi-human, are constantly thrown into the mill. If some of them had exotic names, it might be easier to track everybody, but the wereleopards are as blandly identified as the humans. This actually makes sense, given the themes of monster/human revulsion/attraction that Hamilton pounds over and over into the reader's head, but it is also annoying and confusing.
Fans of the soap-opera aspects of the series will probably either enjoy or be shocked by the pivotal choice that Anita makes at the end of the killing dance. Readers who haven't invested themselves in the entire series will find themselves not caring and wondering what the big deal is.
on September 18, 2002
I have read all of the novels in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series and the "The Killing Dance" is one of the very best and my own personal favorite. Readers would be well-advised to start the series with the first novel "Guilty Pleasures" and enjoy the development of each of the characters instead of starting with this novel.
The book explores the growth and development of each of four main characters; our heroine Anita Blake, junior-high school teacher and alpha werewolf Richard Zeeman, mysterious bounty hunter Edward, and master vampire of St.Louis Jean-Claude. A huge bounty has been placed on Anita's life by an unknown money-man and Anita must somehow protect herself until the time limit expires. Anita puts a lot of effort into survival, a skill at which she has had a lot of practice and at which she excels.
Several plots run simultaneously throughout the book with the action being non-stop and rivetting. Everything ties together nicely at the conclusion, with just enough dangling ends to make us want to start the next installment "Burnt Offerings" right away.
Anita's hard-boiled attitude and biting sarcasm provide several instances where the reader can't help but laugh such as her commentary on a dinner party; "There were three kinds of people at Catherine's dinner party; the living, the dead, and the occassionally furry." Her dry sense of humor serves to break the tension at just the right moment; "What do you say to boyfriend A when he finds you naked in the bed of boyfriend B? Especially if boyfriend A turned into a monster the night before and ate someone. I bet Miss Manners didn't cover this at all."
Readers will devour this novel like an ice cream sundae; satisfying yet leaving you wanting some more. Top ratings are well-deserved.
on June 14, 2002
Anita has a contract on her head. Makes sense, she's upset a lot of people. So she has to go underground with all of her friends to stay alive while hunting for the killer. A much, much stronger plot from Hamilton with a nice villain twist that literally comes out of nowhere. Nice touch. But Grabriel and Raina, villains who are realy whacked and interesting had more than one book in their madness. Unfortunately Hamilton kills her best villans off far too quickly and unbelievably by Anita. She shoots them or stabs them. Don't get me wrong, Anita routinely gets beaten like no one's business and injured beyond reason but again we have the rape threat. Don't these people with all of these powers have anything better in mind to torture someone?
The contract killer thing breaks down as it turns out to be a plot involving her boyfriend Richard and his wolf pack. So Anita is actually able to go on the offensive far too easily. I often wonder if Anita is really all that without her guns and knives. We never see her outwit anyone. Everyone just bumbles around until they get shot or stabbed. Anita uses a warped psychology on Gabriel the insane leopard that wants to rape her and she still rescues Richard and Jean-Claude in time.
I like Anita, I really do. I think the series has strength but there are flaws in execution of the writing. Hamilton can write a book and even convey characters well but the plot and motivation tend to be thin. Most villains want to kill Anita because well.....they want to kill her. Anita has no Moriarty mainly because Anita lacks the intellectual capacity to attarct SMART villains. Anita has gotten more powerful with the shared vampire/werewolf marks linking her to Richard and Jean-Claude, she's gotten more violent and vicious because wel, her life demands it.
But she hasn't gotten smarter. Therefore her challenges haven't either. Maybe Hamilton needs to construct a plot before layering all of the soap opera drama. I would love to read a 700 page novel if it took her that long to explore what each book could explore. Anita often suffers from a TV, get to the next act, show the villain, rush, rush, rush because the viewer will get bored mentality. I've often noticed that it takes about 100-125 pages for Anita to get to the point of the plot of the book---the crime scene, a clue, whatever because there is so much other "stuff" going on. Success often makes writers harder to edit because they've proven that they have the formula down, right? No, a real writer is challenging the work, the content in new ways each time out the pen.
Perhaps Hamilton and Anita need to get a little smarter in plotting and unravelling a mystery rather than just catering to what ultimately makes the book an order of fast food rather than a delicious meal.
on April 2, 2002
Anita shows her quick and deadly skills to perfection in this 6th book in the series. Anita is alerted by Edward that she is being hunted by some of the best hired killers dumb enough to hunt her. But everyone can use the $500,000! Everyone except Edward, Anitas pychotic male version of herself. I mean, of course he can use it but what are friends for? :) She enlists her vamp and were friends to help her solve the mystery of who is behind this.
On the other hand of things....
Richard is having a problem where he is finally going to have to [tough] it up and take on Marcus, the head alpha of the local wolf pack, so that he can be Ulfric and Anita is trying to convice him that someone is going to get killed and she would rather it not be Richard. Things happen and Anita sees things as they truely are and she reacts as only a human would and runs back to who she views as the lesser evil, Jean-Claude.
We see her become increasingly confused about who is a monster and who isnt and we, along with Anita, realize that she is distancing herself from her human friends. Will this lead to more problems? We shall see...
on February 21, 2002
"The Killing Dance" by Laurell K. Hamilton is another thrilling instalment in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. The action and suspense are brilliantly rendered in a storyline that will keep you captivated.
The book begins when Anita Blake, the hard-boiled zombie raiser, vampire executioner and necromancer, receives a call from her "friend" Edward the hit-man, warning her that someone has offered him a huge amount of money to kill her. Edward refuses the offer and comes to St. Louis to help Anita, but it doesn't take long for the attempts on Anita's life to begin.
In addition to Edward, Anita seeks the help of her two boyfriends, Jean-Claude, the ultra sexy Master Vampire, and Richard, the Alpha Werewolf. While Anita is fighting off assassins left right and centre, she is also helping Richard in his bid to become Ulfric - leader of the werewolf pack. In order to do this, however, Richard must kill the current Ulfric, Marcus, which raises a huge moral dilemma for him. Now, Anita must fight to stay alive, because it's up to her to convince Richard to back up his threats and kill Marcus before he ends up dead himself!
"The Killing Dance" is an action-packed, non-stop adventure filled with nail-biting suspense and all kinds of sensual delights. Anita, Jean-Claude and Richard are three of the most intriguing and compelling characters I have ever come across. The world they live in is utterly fascinating, and Hamilton does a superb job of immersing the reader in that world. This is a hugely entertaining tale and I highly recommend it!
on February 4, 2002
This was the only book of Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake series that I've read, which was recommended by a friend. It is also the only book I'll read of Hamilton's for reasons I'll state in this review. Being an avid vampire lover, and a writer, I had very mixed feelings while reading this book. I'll touch on all the things I loved about it first.
The world and characters that have been created are truly phenominal. Hamilton did a wonderful job at bringing the vamipres and lycanthropes alive with her use of words and descriptions. They are well developed and thought out, everything is detailed and has underlying stories waiting to be told. I was sucked into this elaborate world of vampires and other worldly "monsters." I was intrigued by the world Hamilton created because I'd never read a story where the vamipres were known to the world. It reminds me a great deal of the X Men world. Anita Blake is a strong character that you can't help but want to learn more about. Her life is filled with excitement and mystery. I wanted to know what was going to happen to her next. It's always great to see strong women characters--even if they are a bit bitchy like Anita.
Now for the downfalls of this story. What kept it from being a great book in my mind would have to start with the details of the story. They were too much. Details are great, but I was bogged down by them. As a reader I don't need to know EXACTLY what every person is wearing unless it has something to do with the story or furthering character development. I don't NEED to know every detail of a room, unless the position of the antique clock on the stone fireplace has something important to do with developing the personality of the character who owns it or some plot device for the story. Otherwise it becomes too much information.
The dialogue of the characters is too straight forward and awkward. Instead of letting the reader find the subtext in the dialogue, Hamilton lays out the meaning for the world to see. And her characters sound unnatural--awkward--while speaking at times, as if they are reading lines like an actor instead of feeling the words naturally. On that same note, I felt that some of the characters' actions were out of character. There are scenes between Anita and her Vamipre and Werewolf boyfriends that made me lose connection with the characters because I no longer felt they were being true to their personalities.
Lastly, there was way too much going on at once. Too many stories interwoven around the main one, though all were part of the main plot, they served to confuse. Switching from the detailed world of the lycanthropes to the equally detailed world of the vamipres and Anita's intricate ties to each of them were whole books in there own right.
I love a great story, with great characters, but "Killing Dance" is merely an okay book. With maybe another editor or Hamitlon's own open-mindedness to maybe do a few more rewrites to the story, "Killing Dance" could have been a great book. Though it's low points are strong enough to get me to not read another of Hamilton's stories, I did honestly like the book.