A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Circus of the Damned’ chapter seven

Oh, great. After the pointless lesbian fight just there for titillation and to talk about how other women are awful, there’s a chapter dedicated to hunting down the giant cobra.  And I still think that this cobra is a massive research fail – sure, it could be magic, but Hamilton hasn’t said it is, so I’m going to be difficult and say that it’s just silly. There are animals who can eat humans; if you want the whole reptile thing, why not just use a crocodile or an alligator? They make a lot more sense.

Patience, Dottie, patience.

Everyone gets topless to fight the cobra. Well, I say everyone, but JC just sits on the sideline doing nothing. Again. I think he’s just worried about his manicure. There are two men trapped in the ring, injured, and the ‘cobra’ (It is not a cobra, it is not, it is not) hisses above them.

The men lay on the ground at its … feet? Tail?

Feet. Are you shitting me. FEET. It’s a snake, it doesn’t have feet! It very clearly does not have any feet, so why would your mind even go to feet? Snakes are rather known for not having any feet.

JC sort of points at Anita with meaning, trying to convey some sort of message like ‘You are really stupid Anita. I can’t believe you went to university’. Anita then goes over to him, and he says that if she becomes his human servant, they can defeat this evil and monstrous snake – that doesn’t have any venom any more, and most definitely cannot eat people, so could be stopped by animal rescue officers. Or one of those gun things Anita always carries about.

Anita and JC then have a long discussion about her soul. In the meantime, those other three people who were working to try and stop the ‘cobra’ presumably just stand around and pose because they are not mentioned. Then Anita asks whether silver bullets will bring down a snake and I start to want to hurt things. For fuck’s sake, why can’t JC just leap on it and rip its’ head off? What exactly is stopping him from doing that? Other than his own laziness and trying to get into Anita’s padlocked pants, that is.

“The ancient Egyptians worshipped it as a god, ma petite. She was Edjo, the royal servant. Cared for, sacrificed to, adored.”


I think you mean WADJET, the protector of kings and of women in childbirth. (Anyone who follows my tumblr will know of my interest in this particular goddess)

Okay, there’s a lot of crap about how Anita is slowly facing down this evil, evil ‘cobra’ and I really couldn’t care less. It’s just a snake. It’s an animal. It’s not some eldritch abomination capable of formulating devilish plans and driving a car. Just shoot the thing and get this over. Or, I don’t know, wait for Yasmeenie who is still standing around to jump on it and kill it. It hasn’t got any venom yet, and it’s not going to be capable of moving very far or fast with that man in its’ gullet.

“Come on, just a little farther,” I was speaking to the snake. Which was pretty stupid, since they’re deaf.

Except not. Sure, they can’t hear airborne sounds, but they have inner ear structures and can hear sounds. So while it probably can’t hear what Anita is saying, it’s not deaf.

Nice to know I remembered some of my herpetology. Though I bet Dr. Greenburg had never seen anything like this.

i tried

You remember nothing.

Anita fires her gun but the snake moves impossibly fast and leaps upon her, fangs dripping with a poison that should not be there. Anita runs out of bullets and then the snake starts to constrict her to death.

oh my god

The lack of care put into this astounds me. A cobra is a venomous snake. It is not a constrictor. It does not kill by asphyxiating its food. A cobra is unable to constrict its prey. It lacks the muscles and the instinct to do so. Constrictor snakes are different from venomous snakes. To say they are one and the same smacks of laziness and not giving a fuck. Hamilton just went ‘Rule of Cool! It doesn’t matter!’ But it does. It is frustrating and downright annoying when reading a work of fiction to find things that make no sense and are wrong, because it gives the implication that the author simply doesn’t give a fuck – why should they? You’re just going to buy their product anyway. Care and attention to detail are just not as important as getting a reader’s money.

JC finally steps in and pulls the snake apart. Finally. Dear lord, what a dick. Yasmeanie and Stephen stop posing and leap into action, and suddenly a random woman has a fang in her arm because the snake, despite being in pieces, is apparently still alive and no one gives a crap about the random woman. I mean, she’s only going to die of venom that shouldn’t be there in the first place, but whatever. Anita’s got to get a headshot.

The man from the bed runs in and … who the fuck knows? The narrative has gone all muddy again, I can’t tell what on earth is going on aside from the damn snake is still alive despite everyone ripping lumps from a carcass already in bits. JC lifts the woman with the fang in her arm out of the way, and snaps the fang from her arm. He doesn’t remove it mind, so the tip is still embedded in her flesh.  Well done. Dick.

He then asks Anita to help her. I’m sorry, but what gave you the impression that she’s carrying anti-venom with her? Anita says ‘on no her arm is ripped up!’ but I think it’s more a case of venom that kills you horribly, painfully, and quickly suffusing her bloodstream. Unless after making a big deal about the fangs dripping venom, you’re suddenly claiming it had no venom.

There’s some spiritual BS about Anita feeling whatever JC is feeling (I’m guessing his nipples). I don’t care.

The bed guy comes up and offers to help the wounded woman. I’m guessing he has some anti-venom hidden on his person, just in case.

Anita stares at a wolfman running around the body of the snake. She stares at his genitals.

Then the cops show up, because someone died and they actually feel that they have the authority to intervene here. Anita just flashes her RPIT ID card and pulls out the power of the Great and All Powerful Anita Blake.

Jean-Claude stood there in the middle of the ring, his white shirt so bloody it clung to him like water, outlining the point of one nipple hard against the cloth.

Stop playing with your nipples JC.

“Jesus H. Christ, the guys back at the station aren’t going to believe this one,” [the policeman’s] partner said.

He was probably right. I had been here, and I almost didn’t believe it. A giant man-eating cobra. Jesus H. Christ indeed.

They wouldn’t believe it because it was unbelievably stupid. In terms of frustrating stupidity, this chapter wins some sort of award. I’m just going to sit, watch the Simpsons, and try not to break things as I think how this was published.


3 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Circus of the Damned’ chapter seven

  1. …yeah, they’re not deaf. And while I could go with ‘it’s a GIANT cobra because it’s a supernatural critter’ I can’t really get behind it also constricting her not just because normal cobras don’t do that but because why would a species that kills by venom need to do that anyway?

    Having a long conversation while the snake is still presumably rampaging. That sadly makes total sense for this series.

    Oh, so he could kill it all along. Congrats then, JC, that woman’s death is your fault.

    • The pacing in Hamilton’s action scenes is always a little iffy – there are long conversations which let all the tension just seep away. The cobra can’t be that big of a threat if everyone is just standing around posing.

      Aside from the trainer and the dancer, I have no idea what happened to the other injured people. Fang woman disappears. The two men being menaced by the cobra are never mentioned again. I can only presume they are covered in giant lumps of snake.

  2. Gyaah, I try to block out her nipple fetish. It’s fine if that’s her thing, but it’s like Tarantino and feet- it just always shows up in her work, going “Isn’t this sexy? Aren’t you turned on by this sexy hot vision right here? MAN NIPPLES, HOYEAH BABY.”

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