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2.1 out of 5 stars
2.1 out of 5 stars
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"Danse Macabre" is the fourteenth Anita Blake novel from Laurell K. Hamilton (counting her "Micah" novella as the thirteenth outing) and opens with a hell of a hook: Anita's period is two weeks overdue and she is starting to freak out. If she is pregnant then the burning question of who is the father, which is immediately tied to "what" is the father. However, Anita does not have time to pick up a pregnancy test let alone take the test because Jean-Claude is throwing a big bash to welcome to St. Louis the first ever mostly-vampire dance company. He is one of the group's patrons and is throwing the party to help the group earn rave reviews. Several Masters of the City will be visiting and a couple of them have shown up early and there will be a preliminary event. But when Anita shows up at Circus of the Damned, Jean-Claude and Asher are off dealing with Meng Die, who has gone off of the deep end. This leaves the Executioner to host the visiting Masters and their entourages on her own. That is when things start getting bad, because Master vampires are prone to think they are superior to a mere human servant, but Anita Blake got past that line on her resume a long, long time ago.

I was encouraged when I started reading "Danse Macabre," not because of all of the possible complications a pregnancy would create for our heroine, but because a gathering of Masters of the City is fraught with even more potential for disasters. The first two Masters to show up cause major problems and they are supposedly friends of Jean-Claude. Word is getting around of what has been happening in St. Louis and there are those who think the way Jean-Claude is running things is a sign of weakness. Meanwhile, the Council of Vampires back in Europe is starting to get a better picture of what is really going on and there is the danger that they are going to stop Jean-Claude from becoming even more powerful. At the center of all this vampire politics is Anita, who is now coming up with new powers in the first act rather than the climax of these novels. There are always those who are going to try and push her around, and we all know that Anita is always going to push back and that most of the time, but not always, she will win the encounter. The problem is that what I saw as being the big set up to get excited about, is not where Hamilton wants to go.

For several books in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series a lot of us have been wondering what Laurell K. Hamilton is doing to her heroine. The sex in these books continues to escalate, both in terms of frequency and (oh, how to put this) new frontiers. Hamilton is relentlessly pushing the envelope and finds yet another major bridge to cross when Anita is involved in threesome with two other males and this time she is not the one in the middle. Fortunately, the characters in this book talk about sex more than they have sex, although it is a close call on that score, because while I found the first time Anita finally got off the fence (the black wrought-iron one with the pointy spikes on the top that represents the world of Jean-Claude and not the white picket fence favored by Richard) to be pretty hot, most of what has followed since has been less effective (I attribute it to gender as much as age in determining why I dismiss the sex scenes). Off of my reading of "Danse Macabre," I believe the primary purpose of his latest novel is to convince us that Anita is not a slut. The fact that there is a scene where somebody who apparently thought that was she decides that she is not and makes a point of telling Anita would be one clue. Another would be how the book ends, emphasizing the power of love even in the face of all that sex.

I was leaning towards rating this book at least a star higher as I got into the final act and looked forward into things hitting the fan at the dance, and certainly Hamilton was heading in that direction. But then she backed off and the best that can be said would be that she is setting up something bigger and better down the road, the problem being that has been true of the last couple of novels. The time frame of this 2006 novel is about forty-eight hours, so while on the one hand a lot happens, on the other we are not getting very far. Overall, I enjoyed this book more than the last Anita Blake novel because I saw it as heading more in the direction I want (outright horror) and there were several of those verbal duels Anita has with people who do not understand and therefore underestimate her at their own peril. But when Hamilton backed off of the big finish I so desperately wanted, even though the stage was fully and truly set, I had to end up rounding down on the whole thing. Just call it horror interruptus.

Finally, I was blithely unaware that Hamilton's married life was providing a subtext for how Richard has been replaced by Micah although I will admit that I had wondered what her husband was thinking about the radical changes in Anita's sex life. So you can look at her dedication to this volume and retrospectively read everything that has been happening with these characters in the last several books in that light for what it is worth, but that is hardly necessary. Even if what is happening with Richard represents catharsis, revenge or whatever on Hamilton's part with regards to her ex-spouse, the idea of having a really, really bad break up that never ever ends is a key part of the dynamic of this series. But that makes perfect sense because in the world of Anita Blake killing somebody is never the end of the matter. I might be unhappy with the direction of the series and left cold by the sex, but I am by no means disgusted enough with the proceedings to quit the series. There are still enough glimpses of what I consider to be the real Anita Blake to keep me interested.
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on August 9, 2006
Other reviews here have gone into detail with some enthusiasm about the plot (or lack thereof), so I won't address it here. The author has some worthwhile insights into her society and, to her credit, has developed a supernatural culture that is of some interest. The culture appears to be based solely on the sensual, primarily sex. Like an x-rated movie, the entire purpose of the book appears to be to set up situations where the "heroine" can have sex with her many partners, and in my opinion, that makes this book porn. Soft-core porn, but porn nonetheless.

Ms. Hamilton explores her supernatural from an insider's view, and the point of view can allow for some interesting situations. Her characters are distinct, though you can't help feeling that the purpose of the book is to work out the author's own sexual fantasies with the main character as her avatar. I found the author's prose pedantic, and thought that it only lifts above the coarse when the author addresses her favorite topic, intercourse.
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on July 10, 2006
I remember when the Anita Blake books used to have a plot. This one, however, does not. It is mostly about sex, with her current partners, as well as some new ones. Hamilton is bordering on Erotica here, and if this is how she's going to continue to write, she may as well join the genre properly. I love the Anita Blake character, and found this book very disapointing. Although I am not quite ready to give up hope, and I am ready to stop buying these books in hardcover. I have no desire to own a book that I will never, ever read again.
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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.
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on August 23, 2006
For what it's worth, I enjoyed this one more than Incubus Dreams. Unfortunately, other than a few random occurances, the entire plot of this book can be summed up in one line: Anita talks to everyone to find out more about the Ardeur.

By my best estimate, over 7/8 of this book is either Anita talking to someone (who you may or may not remember - I still can't place Clay and Graham in any of the prior books)or having sex with them...if you skip the monotonous dialogue and the uninspired orgy, you're left with about 3 chapters of story, and I use the term loosely.

On the up side, LKH does seem to be trying to tie up all of the unexplained metaphysical crap she's tossed at readers for the last three books, so that offers a bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, she's picking up the story again...of course, since I stopped buying them (three cheers for the library) after Cerulian Sins, I might be a bit more forgiving.

Overall, this book falls into the same trap as the last has the odd few interesting plot chunks and ideas, but they're barely dealt with and certainly not developed to any reasonable conclusion.

Worth a read, but only if you really don't have anything better to be doing.
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on October 6, 2006
More and more, the Anita Blake series is focusing on the preternatural sex and less and less on the vampire hunting and necromancy that were the main themes of the earlier books. I have to admit that the last Anita Blake novel in the series I really enjoyed was Obdsidian Butterfly. After that they're turning into a kind of Meredith Gentry variation (a series which I do in fact enjoy). Not bad but as others have noted, but the ending was a sad anti-climax and the spell of Anita Blake has been lost with Micah and with this novel as far as I personnally am concerned.
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on March 27, 2007
Ok from what I see it is a very erotic book but that is about it... too much books kind of makes things repetitive and unless the author regains an edge with her lycanthropy and vampire adventures... I fear she may loose many readers... If you are looking for some sexual high moments... read the book...if it is some kick butt action... this definitely not the book to get.
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on January 25, 2014
I used to like the Anita Blake series until this smut was turned out!!! It is so bad, that I am reluctant to spend any more of my money on this trash. When I got the book, I was expecting the usual crime solving Anita Blake, but what I got was nothing but 486 pages of Anita Blake, the nymphomaniac!
It has put me off so much that I think I will spend my money on only talented writers instead of Laurell k. Hamilton whose latest book is nothing but welcome to the sexcapades of Anita Blake and how many more men can I get in my bed tonight, not to mention this thing which is called a book, is downright boring!!!
I would like to know only one thing, is the rest of the collection this bad???
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on April 11, 2015
I used to love the Anita Blake novels, she was a true fighter, and the paranormal context was giving it a really interesting background. But now these novels are all about the "ardeur" translation: sex, sex and more sex, with strangers, two, threesomes, in front of a crowd, I really can't stand this anymore, I was hoping the author would go back to the original plots but there aren't even plots anymore, it's just sex.I couldn't even finish this one, got tired of reading more of the same.
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on February 8, 2007
I've been reading her books on a marathon run starting from the first book book Guilty Pleasures, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. However, starting with Narcissus In Chains, she has started to ruin Anita Blake. Now I don't mind the power sharing between her vampire lover and her werewolf lover... but since that book she's turned Anita from a fascinating women, with a sharp mind, that can take it like the boys and dish it out at the same time, a women that shows great courage and honor by her word, to a woman who sleeps with almost every male character in her stores. It seems that Anita Blake's main job now is to have sex, while her detective work, vampire killing work etc has taken a back seat... I will be still watching this serious with some interest, but honestly I don't know how Laurell Hamilton can turn Anita Blake from a succubus to what she was. The path this series has taken is... sad... *sigh*
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