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

It’s a loooooooong chapter today, so everyone buckle up, grab something nice to drink, and load up something good to look at. Or something to vent your hate at to avoid angrily tweeting at Hamilton herself. Honestly, without my Hiddles spam and access to cult television, I’d have said some truly awful things to her.

Inger and Anita drive up a country road towards a ‘fake log cabin that was bigger than any real cabin had ever been’. If it’s a fake log cabin, doesn’t that still make it a cabin?

Too much glass, the yard naked dirt the color of rust.

I have read that sentence over and over but I simply can’t get my head round it.  I think the words ‘yard’ and ‘naked’ need to be swapped for it to make sense.

Editor bad!

Anita gets out of her car, not after Inger apparently attempts to open the door and she ponders about the sense behind opening a car door for someone, apparently not having heard of this thing we mere mortals call ‘manners’. Sometimes it’s just polite to open the door for someone. They head inside the fake cabin, which is apparently unused, and we all get to meet Mr. Oliver.

He was a small man, almost a midget or a dwarf. I wanted to say dwarf, but he didn’t have the jaw or the shortened arms. He looked well formed under his tailored suit.

Yes, dwarves can be identified by how misshapen they appear.

If the character is just short and does not have the medical condition of dwarfism, why not just say that they’re short? Why describe them as being ‘almost a midget’? And the use of the word ‘midget’ means the book gets a big fat ABLEISM sticker because ‘midget’ is incredibly offensive to dwarves.

He had almost no chin and a sloping forehead, which drew attention to the wide nose and the prominent eyebrow ridge.

Oh, is that why you think he’s a dwarf? You are such a lovely inclusive person Anita.

His dark hair was cut one hair at a time, expensive and blow-dried.

His hair was cut one single hair at a time? All 108,000 hairs on his head was cut individually, one at a time? It must take forever to cut his hair. It takes two and a half hours to cut mine and I thought that was excessive.

He was small, but he didn’t think it was a defect. I liked that. I felt the same way.

You just had to use the word ‘defect’, didn’t you. Couldn’t have phrased it any other way, could you. Eugh.

Mr. Oliver must have some serious magical mojo because Anita is actually smiling at him. He must be super-powerful to make her miserable arse happy. He looks alive and sounds alive, but Anita can sense otherwise and she screams at him until she gets her own way. He smiles and talks about how her powers as a necromancer mean that she can see through his artifice.

It’s a shame that necromancy is a means of divination, using raised spirits to foretell the future. It’s not generic black magic-y death power. ‘Mancy’ means prophecy; it’s why the official terms for divination processes all end in ‘mancy’ (such as ailuromancy, the art of telling the future about the weather using the movements of cats, myromancy which is telling the future from the behaviour of ants, and favomancy, the art of telling the future based on how beans fall).

“No, Ms. Blake, the dead respond to you, all the dead. Even I feel the pull.”

They want to tell you the sports scores and that there’ll be a black president.

Mr. Oliver blathers on about how powerful she is and how amazing she is and that her potential power could affect vampires and her power is why JC is attracted to her. She’s the most powerful necromancer he’s seen in years and it’s a super rare talent and no human has been able to rival her in centuries.

Basically, Mr. Oliver is ‘older than time itself’ (really? REALLY?) and he is the plan. He’s so powerful he can just sweep in and become Master of the City. Except not, because JC is hidden from him. Why is he able to hide so well from a creature older than time and more powerful than everyone else? Because SHUT UP, that’s why.  Anita refuses to help.

“You are the most stubborn human I have met in a very long time. I like stubborn people; they get things done.”

… I would argue, but I am a stubborn bitch myself and I get shit done. Anita, on the other hand, is almost incapable of finding her own buttocks with both hands.

Mr. Oliver doesn’t think vampires ought to be legal citizens, which is why he’s going to be Master of the City and then… yeah, that’s going to make a difference on national law.

“They are too powerful to be allowed to spread unchecked. They will take over the human race much quicker through legislation and voting rights than they ever could through violence.”

And here I call TIME OUT because vampires can’t take over the world. Sure, they can in theory but unfortunately, they need blood to survive (or at least human energy). If they take over the world, turn a majority into vampires chomp chomp, there will not be enough humans to feed on. If vampires have any intelligence (although, in this series that’d be a stretch), they can only live as a minority because while their food supply replenishes slowly.  It takes twenty something years for a human to fully mature. There’s really no way to farm them successfully if you’re wanting world domination.

… I’ve thought about this too much. Plus, vampires don’t really create much culture, do they? All they do is sit around sexily, drink blood and angst. They don’t write that many operas or dance to euro pop. God, it must be dull to be a vampire.

“St. Louis is a hotbed of political activity and entrepreneurial vampires. They must be stopped. We are predators, Ms. Blake; nothing we do can change that. We must go back to being hunted or the human race is doomed. Surely you see that.”

Go back to being hunted? Oh, Mr. Oliver is a vampire, the oldest living vampire, and he thinks there ought to be more checks and balances. Well, I agree with that part at least, even if I think he’s a bit dumb.

Inger, who is actually his human servant, shows Anita out when she refuses to give up JC. Inger is actually 700 hundred years old himself and Anita starts to wonder about how old Mr. Olivier is.

“He’s older than a thousand years.”

He told you he’s older than time. I think time definitely started more than a thousand years ago, Anita. She starts thinking about the reconstructed skull of a Homo erectus she saw once in university and then it hits her – Mr. Oliver is a Homo erectus. He’s over a million years old.

Well, strictly speaking, Homo erectus lived on Earth from 1.8 million to 300,000 years ago. So it jump straight to a million years is not necessarily right.

My thoughts on having a prehistoric vampire? Uh…. I guess it’s a interesting idea but the whole million years thing seems a little… well, strictly speaking, kinda silly. I mean, come on, a million years? I find a few thousand years a bit of a stretch, without the vampire devolving a little and becoming something very unhuman. But maybe Mr. Oliver will become something interesting. He might have a really good plotline.

And then a woman with fangs breaks into the house. Just like that. O-kay. She has golden iris eyes, retractable fangs and a split tongue. So, she’s a woman who can turn into a snake woman then. Inger and Anita fight her and she falls to the ground, where her legs become a serpant’s tail.

She’s a lamia, a race thought to be extinct, and she’s kept by Mr. Oliver to stop her from going crazy or something. Lamia are child eating demons, and snakes are only mentioned in relation to them in a poem by Keats from 1819. Lamia is a queen of Libya in Greek mythology and later became a type of demon in Greek folklore. They are not snake-like in folklore.

Why is she with Mr. Oliver?  Because he can ‘call’ snakes. I can’t remember if calling has been mentioned before, but seeing as I can’t remember being angry about it, it probably hasn’t. So, yeah, this calling thing. What hell?

I’d met my first lamia and perhaps the oldest living creature in the world. A red-fucking letter day.

Mr. Oliver is a vampire. He isn’t a living creature.

That was surprisingly okay, for a long chapter, ableism and silliness over lamias aside.

Plus, didn’t Humans Against Vampires notice that Inger was a vampire servant?


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

  1. I did not know midget was offensive to dwarves, thank you.

    Yeah, she uses the phrase “one hair at a time” a lot to mean a haircut that looks well-done or expensive, it makes no sense to me either.

    The fact that she, who is literally ONE inch under the national average for her sex in her country, is pretending to have shortness solidarity with a man who is legitimately unusually short to the point where he likely does face problems and prejudice in society, pretty much sickens me. It’s like when people say they get what it’s like to be gay because someone called them a homophobic slur once even though they’re straight.

    That’s always the thing that’s bothered me too about “vampires take over the world!” threats/plots. I think I’ve only seen one movie where it was addressed successfully (can’t recall the name) but whole the point was that even though humans were being farmed, blood was still running out and fast.

    Eee, I knew I could count on you to know that lamia are only associated with snakes because of Keats! I love this lamia (her name is Melanie) but lamia-as-snake-women on the whole is a trope that I don’t much care for. If you want someone half-human half-snake in a centauroid style as they’re usually portrayed as, get a naga.

    When I write lamias in my own fiction, they look like this, since this was the first depiction of one that I ever saw as a child

    Which is probably not any closer to how the Greek demon looks (I don’t think it’s ever described?) but at least it’s different?

    Yes, calling came up in the first book–Nikolaos could call rats, remember? Being able to call (summon and control) a specific animal species is an ability that vampires can gain if they achieve Master power status (Master as a power level, not to be confused with being Master of the City, which is a position). If the animal has a therianthrope counterpart, such as wererats, then the vampire may also be able to call them too, though the stronger ones can make that difficult (for instance, Nikolaos couldn’t control Rafael the Rat King). Granted, lamia are not therians, but they’re apparently snake-like enough for Mr.Oliver to still control them. We also see vampires later who an call ghosts, merfolk, and djinn, none of which are animals in the Anitaverse like trolls, gargoyles, and dragons are, so that part doesn’t make much sense to me.

    I don’t think that being a Human Servant is something that can be noticed by anyone unless they’re sensitive to the supernatural in some way.

    I always wished that Mr. Oliver had brought up numerous other reasons that some members of the vampire population not might be thrilled to be legal citizens. Off the top of my head, there’s:

    – It’s no longer an exclusive club. Vampires are generally brought over for a good reason, such as the Kiss (yes, that’s really the name for a group of vampires in this series) gaining the money and property that the person has. Now with organizations like The Church of Eternal Life, anyone can sign up to be a vampire who wants to, and since they’re in no danger of being hunted down for it anymore, you can bet a lot of people see that as a good bargain. Vampire society is doubtlessly plagued now by a load of riffraff that they don’t want and who are not helping their society in any way

    -The fact that they can now interact with people while being open about what they are (not to mention the new swell of schmucks in their ranks mentioned above) means that they’ve probably lost some of the ‘spooky scary mysterious’ edge that they had when they had to hide in the shadows, and you can bet the ones that used to exploit that miss it now

    – They are probably paying taxes for the first time in centuries. Legal citizens have to, right?

    – Having human rights means obeying human laws. I think there are a lot of vampires out there who don’t think that’s a good trade, especially since they don’t actually GET human rights at all; when was the last time a human was executed for shoplifting? Not to mention adjusting to that after dozens or hundreds of years of living outside the law because, hey, as long as they’re being hunted for existing they might as well be criminals too because they’ve got nothing to lose, many vampires probably find it really hard to adjust to the idea that now they DO have something to lose, that they CAN live without being hunted but only if they stop living in the only way they probably know how anymore.

    hahaha sorry for the novel I HAVE THOUGHTS

    • I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS, OKAY? No, a novel is cool. Serious comments make me feel like this blog is real deep and shit, not just me screaming over and over at books published in the mid 90s.

      The phrase ‘one hair at a time’ is very weird and silly.

      Anita understands your pain. Anita is legion. Don’t be drag, just be a queen. Whether you’re broke or evergreen. You’re black, white, beige, chola descent You’re Lebanese, you’re orient. Whether life’s disabilities Left you outcast, bullied or teased. Rejoice and love yourself today ’cause sorry, you may have been born this way but Anita Blake can understand your pain better than you can.

      If I was a vampire, taking over the world would be the last thing I’d want to do. That sort of shit is bound to get me noticed and would probably mean I wouldn’t get to enjoy my immortality.

      Yeah, me and Cecilia were talking about nagas after reading this chapter. LKH ought to do better reading. I mean, Keats is all well and good, but it’s not an adequate base for your urban supernatural thriller. Sorry, I mean ‘thriller’.

      Ah, yes I remember now. I don’t think it was called calling or even explained, but I remember the stuff with the rats. It seems strange that it’s only conferred on masters, as the ability to summon animals does come from vampiric myths – Dracula certainly has the ability to summon wolves, rats and insects. It seems that it is rather arbitrary in this series.

      I’m surprised no one brings up taxes in this series. JC owns so many businesses for Puddykins, he must pay a helleva lot in property tax. You’d think the vampires would be worried about that but then I remember that the LKH vampires only care about sex and stroking their chests. At least taxes are talked about in the Sookie Stackhouse books – there’s a massive legal battle to force them to pay taxes since they’re now legal citizens. Does no one give a flip about money in these books?

      • …I have never before seen a more appropriate use of that song homg

        A naga does turn up in one book, though, but like a lot of non-vampire non-therian species, they’re never mentioned again after that. Same thing happens with merfolk, djinn, fey, and, you guessed it, lamia.A good handful of rare therian species also get brought up in one book, then never heard about ever again either.

      • but they’re cool…. sometimes more cool than vampires – ah, that answered why they don’t come back. They’d distract away from the real stars of the series.

        I really want a Born This Way parody starring Anita Blake now. Half of it will be dedicated to how she understands pain better than anyone else, the other half to how she’s the bestest necromancer ever. ‘Cause baby, she was born to raise the dead this way.

      • Hahha, yes! they were sometimes portrayed as hermaphroditic in order to add to their monstrosity. because intersexual conditions are so abombinable *eyeroll*

        It’s why my lamia all have the breasts of women but genitals like hyenas. There are both sexes, male and female, it’s just uber-hard to tell them apart and you pretty much have to do an autopsy, hence a widespread msiconception that they are all-female or all-intersex as a species

  2. Thank you for the gif of RuPaul. Every time I got grumpy, I would just scroll up to it and felt all my tension leak out of me.
    I wont spoil this for you, but there’s a delicious moment of hypocrisy coming up involving Melanie, which I think actually says quite a lot about the author’s own psychosis, but I’ll leave that deconstruction until you get to the part.

  3. Well now I know where the snake connection comes from. When I read this book, I went, “Huh. Lamias seem interesting. Let’s look up the origin of the creature.” Fast forward about five minutes and, “What the fuck does that have to do with snakes?” I learned a thing!

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