A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘The Killing Dance’ chapter one


Do you realise that I have now been reading and blogging about Anita Blake for ten months now? And I’m only on book six? It’s going to take like, four years to get through it all, especially seeing as most of them have 40+ chapters to go.

I am realising this as I have been notified that I have graduated with a 2:1 after three years of study. Including my Master’s Degree course next year, I will be spending the same amount of time reading and ranting about Anita Blake as I will have done at university.

It’s both frustrating and thrilling because I do get a perverse thrill from how bad these books are. And I can tell this one is going to be bad because of the cover.

TPhoto_00054

It is A LIE that you cannot tell a book by it’s cover. Good Lord, this one looks like someone spent five minutes with Clip Art in Photoshop and thought ‘That’ll do’.

Shall we look at the blurb? Haven’t done that in a while and it may back up my hypothesis.

These days my life is a cross between preternatural soap opera and an action-adventure movie.

The first hit man came after me at home, which should be against the rules.

HOLD UP HOLD UP

there are no rules with where people may assassinate you. They’re hit men. They can do what they like to try and kill you.

Then there was a second, and a third. Word on the street was that Anita Blake, preternatural expert and vampire killer extraordinaire, was worth half a million dollars. Dead, not alive.

Half a million dollars? That’s like a piss in the ocean. That’s not very much money at all.

So what’s a girl to do but turn to the men in her life for help? Which in my case means an alpha werewolf and a master vampire. With professional killers on your trail, it’s not a bad idea to have as much protection as possible, human or otherwise.

But I’m beginning to wonder if two monsters are better than one…

Right, so someone is trying to kill Anita. She thinks this is bad, but I think it is wonderful. So let’s dive right in.

First criticism is that the typeface in my copy is really small. I dislike this. It makes it hard to read and type.

The most beautiful corpse I’d ever seen was sitting behind my desk. Jean-Claude’s white shirt gleamed in the light from the desk lamp. A froth of lace spilled down the front, peeking from inside his black velvet jacket.

I already hate this book because it starts with a loving description of Le Grand Tosspot, Cleaner of Cat Litter, JC. UGH. He’s with a vampire in a black, hooded cape who I’ve already clocked as a villain because he’s on the front cover of the book looking menacing, and a powerful… psychic guy (I think) called Dominic Dumare.

“Ms. Blake, please be seated,” Dumare said. “Sabin finds it most offensive to sit when a lady is standing.”

I glanced behind him at Sabin. “I’ll sit down if he sits down,” I said.

And of course this awkwardly segues into a discussion of how unruly she is as a human servant and how she has been declared as JC’s official human servant before the Grand High Vampire Council. Because, apparently, they have nothing better to do with their time than know what one insignificant Master vampire is doing with his time.

oh and sabin is british and we brits are always evil AM I RIGHT or am i right

JC boasts about how Anita is dating him without the use of glamour to which I counter with ‘because you used the power of blackmail asshole’. Sabin laughs about all this love and Anita demands to know why they are here. I approve of her rudeness for once because I don’t like any friends of JC. Sabin seems to have some sort of illness from not eating blood and when he laughs, it slices up Anita’s forehead. Then blood is flowing down JC’s translucent skin. It’s page three and I am already very confused. Is that a new record?

JC yells at Dumare and Sabin (is that a name?) about abusing his hospitality in Anita’s office. While JC goes on about how cutting people is generally bad form, all Anita can worry about is whether he’s still flawlessly attractive. Get your priorities straight girl. Oh, and adds that she’s annoyed now that JC is annoyed. They only cut her face and assaulted her in HER SPACE. But she’s not allowed to get angry about it until JC does.

Yeah, I’m seeing why she’s lauded as a strong independent woman. When she is only allowed to speak up when the man who intends to force her to sleep with him is pissed.

Sabin floats around the room and exposits. Him and his girlfriend decided it was wrong to feed on people. LKH decided that her vampires should be punished for showing conscience in any way and after he drank animal blood, half of Sabin’s face rotted off.

His hair was thick and straight and golden, falling like a shining curtain to his shoulders. But his skin… his skin had rotted away on half his face. It was like late-stage leprosy, but worse. The flesh was puss-filled –

It was filled with cats? No wonder his face is so bad!

– gangrenous, and should have stunk to high heaven. The other half of his face was still beautiful. The kind of face that medieval painters had borrowed for cherubim, a golden perfection. One crystalline blue eye rolled in its rotting socket as if in danger of spilling out onto this cheek. The other eye was secure and watched my face.

That’s what you get for not being sexy in the Anita Blake universe. Rot face.

Sabin, hearing of Anita’s reputation, has come to seek a cure. Yeah, because a woman notorious for killing vampires is going to stop your rot face. Anita does admit that she can’t really do anything, but is then distracted by the unearthly beauty of JC. Strong independent woman everyone. Dumare suggests a spell, perhaps.

“A spell?” I glanced at Jean-Claude.

Why are you looking for him for confirmation of action? He’s not your fucking master.

He gave that wonderful Gallic shrug that meant everything and nothing.

You mean like any shrug ever. Just because he’s French and a vampire means that the sun shines out of JC’s butt crack, you know.

Dumare suggests necromancy, or the two of them working as a focus for different animators. Anita says that will only raise zombies, so Dumare offers her to teach her ‘true’ necromancy, ‘not this voodoo dabbling that you’ve been doing’. Well, at least someone acknowledged that Anita is dabbling and claiming expertise in a culture and religion that isn’t hers, but I have a feeling that Dumare is a bad guy. He’s talking with logic – he must be bad.

Anita magically works out that Dumare is Sabin’s human servant (no shit, Anita, why else do you think he was helping him? Vampires and humans are never just friends in these books which makes me sad) and accuses him of trying to hide information from her. Sabin cuts them off because Anita has a more pressing engagement, another awkward segeway into discussing another ‘pressing’ issue – that JC is allowing her to date another.

Allowing.

Because a woman should be told exactly what she may do by a man.

Anita announces loudly that while she may not like Sabin, she would drop Richard like a hot potato if she thought she could cure the rot face vampire. Why don’t you like Sabin? He hasn’t done anything to even inspire my rancour. Yet.

“How is the woman you love taking the change in your appearance?” Jean-Claude asked.

Sabin looked at him. It was not a friendly look. “She finds it repulsive, as do I. She feels immense guilt. She has not left me, nor is she with me.”

“You’ve lived close to seven hundred years,” I said. “Why screw things up for a woman?”

Yes, why would you have a moral ephinany and decided that you would rather not kill people for the rest of time? What a stupid thing to do with your life!

And I did notice the implication that no one should love Sabin because of his rot face. I think it’s rather unpleasant that his partner – because qualifying her based on her gender is fairly crude – can’t love him because of his rot face. Her guilt, I can understand; it’s hard to deal with disabilities as a couple, because a rotting face condition is a disability for a vampire in this series, let’s face it. But I cannot understand why JC and Anita feel the need to be all ‘oh, i bet your girlfriend can’t love you anymore LOL’.

Sabin and Dumare leave, and Anita and JC chat about how they must all be nice because there is a law floating around Washington DC that might make vampires illegal. Even though presumably the UN has announced them another form of human life and America could not overturn that. But no, that is my European mindset kicking in. I’ve got to start thinking more like LKH, and authors who write about the supernatural like her – that America is the centre of world politics and only things that happen in America are important, as the north of America lives in a bubble from which we are all excluded.

Sorry, but it is an ongoing peeve of mine that these books never mention anything important happening outside of north America – and that doesn’t even include Canada. It’s a big world as your sandbox LKH, go on and play!

JC then whines about how patient he’s been with the whole ‘blackmail Anita so she sleeps with me AHA’ plan and why won’t she just get it over and done with.

 I studied his face. He was one of those men who was beautiful rather than handsome, but the face was masculine; you wouldn’t mistake him for female, even with the long hair. In fact, there was something terribly masculine about Jean-Claude, no matter how much lace he wore.

I think it might be that dick he keeps waggling about to show how amazing he is. But I could be wrong. I might be just pissed off that most of this chapter has not been about Sabin and his rot face, but Anita going on about how ‘beautiful’ JC is. I get it – this was written one handedly. But you don’t need to keep reminding me of something you’ve already mentioned about ten times in ten pages. It makes it redundant.

Anita tries to leave, but has to remind JC that this is her office. They snog and JC talks about how she hasn’t slept with either of them yet, how brave she is. Before I can rant about how creepy that sounds, he flatly tells her that he would never do anything like Sabin did but ‘what I do is enough’.

What does he do? JC is marked by his chronic ability to arrive in times of danger then actively refuse to do anything to resolve the situation. he insults her and then leaves.

Wow. What a wonderful man.

But truthfully, it wasn’t Jean-Claude’s nearly perfect face –

ARGDKJSDFJKHFSDHJDFHJKDFGKGDROPERGOPJGDFKLGFKDFG

– that was haunting me. I kept flashing on Sabin’s face. Eternal life, eternal pain, eternal ugliness. Nice afterlife.

Yeah, your life IS worthless if you are an ugly vampire. Might as well try to kill yourself with a stake if you are not beautiful enough.

Well.

That was rather awful so

I’m being like Gene Hunt with my dinner and

so.

Discuss how this chapter could become the film ‘How Anita Lost Her Agency’.

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11 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘The Killing Dance’ chapter one

  1. That blurb on the back about her taking all the protection she can get is pretty hilarious. Especially since any time ANYONE tries to help her, she gets pissy and shoves a gun in their face.

    The America crap pisses me off too and I’m American. The ego of this country is pretty gross. My family is from England though (immigrated here in the late 50’s), so I wasn’t raised with an “America trumps everything” attitude. Or maybe that has nothing to do with it, I don’t know. Though considering the shit LKH says, it’s not surprising that she has this attitude. She can’t write about other countries because she doesn’t know anything about them. And research…pfft!! If its not on a calender, it’s not worth looking into! (Which is where she claims to get a lot of her research materials…)

    There’s so many things I never noticed before though. I first read these as they were coming out (back in the 90’s) and I never realized how fucking AWFUL they were. After they took a turn, I would say “oh they’re good up to such and such book”. But now, even the ones I thought were ok are just horrific. Especially after “reading” them through someone else’s eyes. I cringe that I ever thought this was a decent series. What’s sad is the ideas are there, but the execution is just NO.

    • I’d agree that the ideas are definitely there but she just didn’t put the effort in.

      I’ve been reading through LKH’s blog and… the calendar stuff annoys me so much I almost want to smash my laptop. And the American ego stuff is all over he blog and I just go UGH. Cannot even deal with it.

  2. Yeees, I was hoping you planned to do them all, but I wondered if you realized just how much time it would take. I really do hope you stay the course because it just gets SO DISASTROUSLY BAD.

    “What’s a girl to do but turn to the men in her life for help?” I cannot even begin with this.

    Surprise, Sabin is a villain! As is Dumare. I refuse to see this as a spoiler.

    Also, vampires are always either French, British, or born here in America. I think the only exceptions we’ve seen are Padma, who is Indian and seems most likely originally from India to me, and Meng Die, who is Chinese and thus *could* be from China (but also could be from any other number of places that have a Chinese population too), and possibly Vittorio who is of unknown origin (and I guess Mr.Oliver was originally from wherever it is Homo erectus originally lived). If it makes you feel any better, at least British vampires have about the same chance as being good or bad as anyone else (we get some good ones later), non-white vampires, as I mentioned before, are ALWAYS evil! =D Oh wait, that’s not a good thing.

    “I’ll sit down if he sits down.” Because she can’t do ANYTHING without being unnecessarily difficult and rude. I don’t see this as feminist, I see this as “lol I can make this guy keep standing as long as I do” because honestly, which seems more in-character for her?

    I STILL DO NOT GET THIS GALLIC SHRUG THING

    I like how she said ’eternal ugliness’ as the last thing, as if that’s WORSE than eternal pain.

    • Being ugly is the WORST THING EVER, don’t cha know?

      I can understand if she was talking about a Spanish style shrug, with one shoulder being raised only. But seeing as that’s something that normal people do talking about it would be pointless.

      I was wondering whether it was too early to start talking about how I have noticed that only VOC (vampires of colour) are evil in these books. I have noticed that already and it disturbs me immensely.

  3. THANK YOU for pointing out the Jean Claude thing. I’ll be the first to admit that Anita isn’t perfect. She’s emotionally stunted, trigger happy, racist, paranoid, irrational, self righteous, consistently angry, and a borderline sociopath. But she does have a personality, and I don’t understand why she falls at this asshat’s feet. He insulted her, kidnapped her, trapped her in servitude more than once, MIND RAPED HER SEVERAL TIMES, used her, and generally acted like a condescending dipshit. And that’s just in the books you’ve covered. He killed everything that was Anita and crushed her into an obedient little pet, the start of which you can see here. so I find it unendingly frustrated when people talk about how great he is.

    • I can’t criticise Anita for not being a well-defined character – she does have oodles of personality, so much that the books can barely hold it, I just can’t like it. But in just one chapter of this book she’s lost some of that quintessential ‘The Great and All Powerful Anita Blake’-ness in order to stare at JC’s perfection. UGH.

  4. The fact that she spent this chapter mostly perving on JC when the first sentence says “The most beautiful corpse I’d ever seen was sitting behind my desk.” is disturbing. It’s like “ya know what I think I want to fuck? Beautiful corpses!” OMG IS THAT WHY ANITA BECAME AN ANIMATOR!?

    That whole only-in-America thing really bugs me too. If America is like that then I can’t think of a reason why the rest of the world wouldn’t have the same or similar laws regarding preternatural beings.

      • A lawyer did a review of the laws legalizing vampires and pointed out they’re actually nightmarishly repressive and fascist. So, really, I wouldn’t say she’s got my country’s legal system wrong.

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