A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘The Laughing Corpse’ chapter six

Sorry, I had to take a break from the almost racist BS of Hamilton’s writing before dipping my toe into the water again. It’s another long chapter today, as Hamilton has realised that it’s anti-climatic and frustrating to break up the flow of action, and I strongly suspect another Dottie breakdown.

Okay, crack open something delicious, or bring up something to distract you in moments of extreme anger – yer gonna need it. Personally, I’m listening to an audiobook read by Tom Hiddleston.

It makes everything better.

Anita goes into Dominga Salvador’s basement. It is damp and dark, as are a lot of basements.

My grandmother had been a priestess of vaudun. Her Humfo had not smelled like corpses. The line between good and evil wasn’t as clear cut in voodoo as in Wicca or Christianity and satanism, but it was there.

The morals of vaudun are poorly defined compared to the religions of white Europeans. Nice. And Haitian voodoo – which I am presuming this is, although I’m fairly sure that Hamilton is unaware of the difference between the religions – is not refereed to as voodoo when you are dealing with the religion. It is considered disrespectful and insulting. So be careful there – just because you, as an author, don’t appear to have any respect for the religion doesn’t mean you can’t be respectful. Also, from what I have read (and I may be wrong) the moral code of vaudun is similar to Wicaa; namely, do no wrong against others. So yeah, white elitism much?

Grandmother Flores had told me that I was a necromancer. It was more than being a voodoo priestess, and less.

What does that even mean???

I had a sympathy with the dead, all dead. It was hard to be vaudun and a necromancer and not be evil. Too tempting, Grandma had said. She had encouraged my being Christian. Encouraged my father to cut me off from her side of the family. Encouraged it for love of me and fear for my soul.

Yes, counteract the evils of vaudun with Christianity, Anita. As the complicated moral code of vaudun can only tempt you into examining oneself and seeing what is appropriate for your relative propriety! EVILLLLLLLL!

Excuse me while I distract myself with how awesome Sif is.

Just twenty more pages, just twenty more pages… the basement smells very bad and Anita complains. Again, it is a basement, what were you expecting? There’s a boarded up door and OH NOES there’s something dead behind it. She walks around, looking at runes and sigils, until she almost blunders down into Dominga’s Humfo.

The end of the room gleamed with candles. The warm, rich light flickered and filled the white walls with heat and light. Dominga stood in the midst of that light, and gleamed with evil. There was no other word for it. She wasn’t just bad, she was evil. It gleamed around her like darkness.

The sheer amount of stupid in that paragraph… darkness actually ‘gleams’ like the light you repeatedly and unnecessarily describe and the vaudun priestess is EEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVVIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

Dominga’s altar is just a big pile of dead things and congealed blood. Anita is sad that Dominga kills goats because ‘they always seemed so much more intelligent than chickens’, proving that Hamilton has never kept chickens in her life. They are pretty intelligent in real life, and if you want a creature that radiates evil, I would nominate a pissed off chicken. Hell hath no fury like a angry chicken.

There are two women standing by the altar, one in a full evening gown for no apparent reason and the other half-decayed.  They are both zombies. Again, vaudun has NOTHING to do with zombies, I’m afraid. I know the internet wasn’t around in 1994 to anything like the extent it is now, but there are those funny buildings full of books… what are they called… oh yes, libraries. They are full of books you may borrow so that your writing doesn’t come off as uninformed white girl bullshit.

Anita asks what the hell is going on, and Dominga laughs about how she is rude and ought to know what is going on here, aha!


Anyway, the zombies are so well kept because the soul was captured at the moment it took flight from the body.

I have to wait three days before I raise a corpse. It gives the soul time to leave the area. Souls usually hover around for a while [what, like dragonflies?]. Three days is average. I can’t call shit from the grave if the soul’s still present.

So tough luck if your personal philosophy don’t believe in souls, because you’re gonna get one anyway! Now where is the airplane I can make a nefarious escape in…

Anyway, Dominga has been experimenting. Basically, the soul preserves the zombie. Remove it, the zombie decays. Put it back in, and the decay stops. She is perhaps planning to sell the preserved zombie as a sex slave because Dominga is EVIL.

Anita demands that she release the women so their souls can go to Christian heaven or hell – oh, real nice there Anita, you know that other religions and theologies are just as valid as Christianity, mmkay? – and Dominga laughs about how their families paid her to do this. She’ll be rolling in the benjees soon; animators have been searching for years how to make a nonrotting zombie and now she can patent it! She hopes that Anita will help her, because asking a random woman to help in your evil plan will no doubt, be a complete success. She hoped because Anita wasn’t vaudun she would not see that exploiting the dead would be morally wrong. Anita refuses, so Dominga asks Manny – and shock horror, Dominga reveals that Manny used to practise with her!!!!

Except we know that from when Manny said two chapters ago that Dominga used to be his priestess. WHOOPS. The real surprise is that they talk about human sacrifice which is NOT ALLOWED IN ANY FORM OF VOODOO. IT IS AGAINST THE RULES. YOU ARE AWARE THAT A RELIGION OF BROWN PEOPLE CAN HAVE MORAL CODES HAMILTON, AREN’T YOU? DON’T MAKE ME PULL OUT THE RACISM STICKER!

Oh, I am so close to a furious breakdown. I do not want to burn another book to vent my rage, especially as this book isn’t mine.

blah blah blah Dominga talks about being evil, Anita says she’s sick and wrong but would still like her help, and Dominga says that she will ask her followers of any information they might have about the killer zombie.

I wanted to call her a bitch and shoot her between the eyes, but then I would have had to shoot Enzo, too. And how would I explain that to the police? She was breaking no laws. Dammit.

… she murdered people. I’m pretty sure that’s fairly illegal. You could tell the police that and get her arrested for sacrificing people. Domiga laughs evilly about how the only way to stop her is to kill her.

You know, Dominga reminds me of Little Miss Nikky. They sound pretty much the same and their motivation is exactly the same – fur teh evulz. They are both pathetic and annoying, only Dominga comes with the exotic tint of ‘brown people have no morals’. Anita and Dominga threaten each other some more, then Anita and Manny make their way out of the basement only for the bulbs to go out and the zombies set on them. Or something, I can’t tell because of the muddiness of the narrative.

Antonio was still on guard outside. Should be warn him about the possibility of a Lovecraftian horror nipping at our heels?


A zombie isn’t fucking Lovecraftian.

My god, this chapter makes me feel unclean. It’s offensive, mean and very, very stupid. Why is Dominga evil? What sense does it make for Dominga to just be evil? Why can’t Hamilton research anything? Why?


…. feeling better now.


6 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘The Laughing Corpse’ chapter six

  1. Wow, this is actually…worse than I remember. No detective work, just Dominga announcing she’s evil after Anita feels how EVIL EVIL EVIL she is and telling Anita exactly what evil things she’s doing. Good craps. And the racism…I warned you. And yes, souls are a real fact in the Anitaverse, though where they go is not known to anyone (but there’s some heavy-handed Christian favoritism in Skin Trade like whoa…). At least the monster is still cool. Well, a cool concept. I don’t recall if anything cool got done with it (you haven’t seen it yet so I won’t spoil what it is, but it’s what made me like this one spite of this…mess)

    • I could have liked Dominga if she had some characterisation, instead of being a moustache twirling, tying maidens to train tracks minor villain, simply because -SHOCK HORROR – she practises a non-European religion.

  2. To be fair, the loa themselves are actually very neutral. They are neither evil nor good, but the houngans and the mambos can use their gifts via the rituals and what-have-you as they wish for beneficial or nefarious purposes. This is pretty different from Wicca and Christianity, in that the goddess and God are essentially good.

    However, if you piss off a certain loa then may you have the blessings of a powerful personal loa protecting you because they are not to be trifled with in any way.

      • Right. I’m just saying that while what LKH/Anita says about the ambiguity around the “morals” of vodun is poorly stated and insensitive, and written wrong later on, it’s not entirely incorrect of her to say that the “line” is less obvious as opposed to Christianity and Wicca, both of which seem to be religions with black and white ground, whereas vodun has many shades of grey. If that makes sense?

        I feel like I’m not making my point. Sorry.

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