A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Cerulean Sins’ chapter forty four PART ONE


The banquet was in one of the inner rooms of the Circus. One I’d never seen before. I knew that the place was huge, and I’d seen only a fraction of it, but I hadn’t realized I’d missed a room this size.

OK, so the Circus was originally just this cave system that the vampires just happened to find (even though the vampires would have been in the US for a while, so I have no idea why vampires couldn’t have made it), but it has this convenient giant room for no reason? I guess that people could have used the local limestone base (hell yes I researched this) like they do in Nottingham – the city is built on sandstone, and for thousands of years, people have used it to create houses and businesses. Like, there are whole Victorian streets and medieval market places underneath the city, it’s pretty cool. But… I dunno, it just seems convenient that there is just the right room for a big fancy meal.

…. actually, nope, this is all natural. The room is all natural. Even though the caves of the Circus, with all those stairs, corridors, and random sex rooms have always been described as being man-made. There’s no water, and there’s no river, so I am confused as to how a river managed to make a giant empty room and then completely vanish with no trace.

I expected torches for the night –

Oh, yeah, smoke and carbon dioxide in a confined area with no ventilation, wouldn’t that be a great idea?

Hang on, doesn’t Anita have TOTLY SRS claustrophobia? As in, has difficulties going into cellars? How come she’s fine with these caves?

– but was surprised to find that there was gas. Gas lamps placed around the room, chasing back the dark. I asked Jean-Claude when he’d installed the gas, and he said that some bootleggers had done it during prohibition, that the cavern had been a speakeasy.

Gas lighting. In the 1920s.

Yeah, they had electricity in the 1920s, LKH. Gas lighting started to drop in popularity after about 1900 because electric lighting doesn’t tend to explode and set things on fire. Oh, and gas lighting releases carbon monoxide, so installing it in a CAVE is a really great way to kill off your customer base.

I’d never been in a room that was lit entirely by gas lamps. It had that soft edge of firelight –

IT IS FIRE. The light comes from a FLAME.

– but it was steadier and burned cleaner.

Fire burns cleaner than fire. Uh huh.

I’d half expected there to be an odor of gas, but there wasn’t. Jean-Claude informed me that if I smelled gas it would mean there was a leak, and we should probably run like hell. Okay, what he actually said was we should leave as quickly as possible, but I knew what he meant.

Get your fucking hands off me, I understand what you mean without you grabbing me. JC, why have you still got gas lighting? If your gas lighting is powered by the gas company, it should smell as it’s burnt. If it’s from the main pipeline, they add scents to it so people can tell if there’s a leak. So there should be a slight smell as it’s burning. And this doesn’t cover the carbon monoxide that is being used in those lamps, which is odourless and incredibly deadly. Why doesn’t JC just get electric lighting installed? There’s no reason to keep the gas lighting!

Anita stares at the table. It is odd. It’s got a lot of gold in the decoration, but Anita doesn’t understand why there’s lots of cutlery. She is especially confused by a two-tined fork. Well, those could be deli forks (for picking up sliced meats), snail forks (for snails, olives, canapes, and other small appetisers), or a roast fork (for use in carving and cooking of roast meats). Anita assumes that these are used for stabbing people in the neck to feed on them, despite the fact that, you know, vampires have fangs.

Secondly, there were a number of complete place settings on the floor. Each setting had a while linen napkin spread under it, like miniature picnics. The place settings on the floor were spaced between the chair settings, so there was room to pull the chairs in and out. It was… odd.

It’s almost like werewolves exist, or vampires like to feed on people. How strange! Anita just can’t understand this, and hates the idea of small talk at the party because like, people are going to say things but mean other things. That’s just too hard :(.

Anita is in the banquetting room (although a banquet is NOT a big meal, grumblegrumble) but… the guests are somewhere else, as Asher comes in to say that she is needed. Musette is grumbling, and JC and Asher want to know what the hell is going on. As do I.

“Oh, I don’t know, an international terrorist following me around, the vampire council back in town, an evening of some of the most politely vicious small talk I’ve ever heard, Asher being his usual temperamental self, one of my friends and favourite policemen having a nervous breakdown, a serial killer werewolf on the loose in my town, oh, and the fact that Richard and his wolves haven’t arrived yet, and no one’s answering their phones. Pick one.”

  • International terrorism is all focused on Anita. Just because.
  • Musette isn’t on the vampire council. She’s just here because of BM’s personal agenda.
  • Oh god a dinner party I don’t know how you’ll cope.
  • You are SAYING THIS TO ASHER. Can’t you say that any nicer?
  • The breakdown that you don’t care about and have helped cause.
  • Since when as it been decided that the serial killer is a werewolf? I thought Dolph just decided that Jason was the murderer to prove that he’s a big old nasty bigot.
  • Richard is meant to be arriving? Since when?
  • And since when has no one been answering their phones? YOU HAVEN’T CALLED ANYONE.
  • I pick none of them. I don’t care about your problems. They have no emotional weight.

Apparently Richard not being here makes Anita look ‘weak’. I don’t know why and I don’t care. Asher dislikes Anita being rude and Anita is worried that Musette doesn’t think she’s really interested in Asher.

“No, no, damn it, it’s that we haven’t had intercourse.”

Asher looked at me, then raised his gaze to Jean-Claude. “In this, she is very American. If you have not had intercourse, you have not had sex with ma petite. It is a very American mind-set.”

“I covered her back in my seed, does that not count?”

Yes, yes it does. Asher and Anita have had sex. True, they have not had penetrative sex, but they have had a threesome. And repeating ‘very American’ is poor writing. I already know that it’s apparently an ‘American’ mind set. You literally just said it. Anita asks about the plates on the floor, so JC decides to mind rape her.

JC. PLEASE DON’T MIND RAPE YOUR GIRLFRIEND. IT’S NOT ROMANTIC. IT’S HORRIBLE.

Anita calls him out, and then starts holding herself. She thinks about her cross. She’s wearing it, but it’s stuck down to her chest with electrical tape.

Uh, sure. There wasn’t any safer way to hide her cross than with electrical tape. Say goodbye to your skin, Anita!

Jean-Claude touched my hand gently. I jumped, but didn’t move away. He took that as an invitation. He’d always taken anything that wasn’t an outright rebuke as an invitation.

oh god he’s such a rapist. he’s such a rapist. there’s so much more to consent than just ‘no’. if anita is not interested, uncomfortable, or just won’t say no because it’s easier than facing JC’s anger, then JC will just rape her. Often. Often enough for Anita to know that he does this and to be so resigned she doesn’t even complain about it.

This isn’t romantic. This is abuse. I’m going to high-five JC in the face with a shovel.

JC shoves his hands all over the obviously uncomfortable Anita and asks again what’s wrong. She repeats her question – what’s with the plates. She is shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU, that the vampires are going to be feeding on people at the vampire dinner party.

Anita, what did you think the vampires were going to be eating? It takes her a fucking page to realise that, yes, people are going to be fed on, and yes, they are probably going to be killed. And she doesn’t fucking care unless she knows them. She is slightly concerned that people may die, and then continues worrying about her own issues. You see, it’s just too goshdarn dark in this cave now she’s met the Mother of All Darkness.

I guess it’s scary to be confronted by powerful African women!

And, on that note, I will be cutting this chapter in two. I’m too bored and frustrated to deal with the remaining pages, not when I have rapists to attack with shovels.

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5 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Cerulean Sins’ chapter forty four PART ONE

  1. “Hang on, doesn’t Anita have TOTLY SRS claustrophobia? As in, has difficulties going into cellars? How come she’s fine with these caves?”

    The post-it note fell behind her desk. When was the last time this came up? (Seriously, when? I don’t remember that ever being a thing.)

    “Gas lighting. In the 1920s.”

    Research is hard, you know.

    “He’d always taken anything that wasn’t an outright rebuke as an invitation.”

    God, these books are like Baskin-Robbins: 31 flavors of wrong. I mean, what. The. Actual. Fuck. In what possible universe is that okay?

    Oh, wait, this is Laurell K. “doesn’t understand consent” Hamilton.

    • I think I have a vague memory of her not wanting to go into the basement of the vampire church, but I also think that was more because it was full of water and fuck knew who was possibly slithering around in the water, not claustrophobia.

      Oh! And being trapped in the coffin with the one vampire who mind-fucked her into thinking she was Anita’s mother. Pretty sure anyone would have been freaked silly by that, however.

      The whole “natural caves” thing really…ugh. Possibly, maybe, there *was* a river that carved them out that was shifted away by the big earthquake in Madrid in 1811-12 (considering they were pretty damn big quakes, and actively changed the landscape, it’s a genuine possibility), and there is, actually, a lot of caves in the Midwest, including a big mo’fo’ right by St. Louis. But considering federal land laws, I have a feeling, unless the vampires found it in advance enough to be grandfathered, they would actually still be allowed to own them.

    • It was mentioned that Anita suffers from claustrophobia in Burnt Offerings. Not that she had the phobia before or since. LKH forgot that she and Anita are two separate people, again.

      Research is just so hard, ugh.

      That line about JC is so fucking horrifying. She’s just so resigned to being repeatedly raped. It’s just like ‘Oh, well, I can’t let him get angry otherwise he’ll hurt me, so I’ll lie back and take it’. I… just, this fucking series, this FUCKING SERIES.

  2. Wasn’t her claustrophobia the main reason why she didn’t want to go get Gregory or whoever was in the freaking oubliette in Narcissus in Chains? If so, it was actually kind of recently.

    Also, she could be like me: I was trapped under a bed when I was little and thought I wasn’t going to suffocate, so I’m terrified of being in small spaces if I can’t see an obvious exit or obvious way to push my way out. Dark tunnel without light to show me the way? Fucking hell no. Elevator? totally fine, cuz I have faith that door is going to open in a few minutes and I can leave. (Can’t say what I’d do if the elevator got stuck, though.)

    But we are never going to know that cuz her claustrophobia only happens when Anita can be dramatic or argue about it >_>

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