A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Incubus Dreams’ chapter one


Incubus Dreams is eighty two chapters. If I’m ever going to get this book finished within at least the next six months, I’d better get cracking.

The bride was a witch who solved preternatural crimes. The groom raised the dead and slew vampires for a living. It sounded like a Halloween joke, but it wasn’t.

When I’m not up to my elbows in sacrificial gore, I’ve got serious preternatural issues to deal with. Psychotic shapeshifters, duplicitous vampires and sexually deviant were-leopards. And that’s just my friends. I’m Anita Blake Vampire Hunter and Federal Marshall.

My life is more complicated than ever, caught up between obligations to the living and to the undead. Now there is a vampire serial killer preying on strippers. And I’ve been called in to help the police.

As ever, the UK cover is excellent. I’m telling you now, if I ever get a book published, I’m going to these people. They make these books look good, interesting, and fun to read. Unlike the blurb, which is incredibly vague. The plot was left right to the last sentence, and proper squeezed in. The rest could be applied to just about any Anita Blake book and doesn’t really offer any reasons as to why this one might be any different from the last one I just read.

Opening the chapter proper, Anita Blake is horrible about her friend’s wedding. Non-stop.

It’s now October in the AB universe, so Larry and Tammy Reynolds – who are getting married because pregnancy because this is the 1950s – have gone for a Halloween theme. That sounds fine until they decided that bright neon orange was a great colour scheme for a formal event. Anita is on Larry’s side, as one of his groomsmen, and is just instantly bitching about it.

Three hundred dollars, or more, for a very orange formal that I’d burn before I’d wear again, or less than a hundred dollars to rent a tux that I could return. Wait, let me think.

What’s stopping you from returning the orange dress after the wedding? Just say it didn’t fit right, and bring it back.

I got the tux. I did have to buy a pair of black tie-up shoes. The tux shop didn’t have any size seven in women’s. Oh, well. Even with the seventy-dollar shoes that I would probably never wear again, I still counted myself very lucky.

Why are you whining about money? For a start, you are rolling in cash, we all know that, and secondly, it’s very rude to be thinking about this AT THE WEDDING! Be happy for your friend and stop complaining.

As I watched the four bridesmaids in their poofy orange dresses walk down the isle of the packed church, their hair done up on their heads in ringlets, and more makeup than I’d ever seen any of them wear, I was feeling very, very lucky.

OK, for some reason this book is taking place in the middle of the 1980s. Just for the sake of clarity, most wedding dress fashion in 2002 to 2003 was like this;

Strapless, fitted busts, and relatively narrow skirts. If you’re going to write about up-to-date things in the books, then you can’t still have everyone going around being totally bodacious.

Anita talks about how the groomsmen have to stand – hands on wrist – because the wedding coordinator thinks they’re all going to mess around. She presumed Anita would be a ‘civilizing influence’ but then was shocked, just shocked I say, that a woman might be uncouth.

She just didn’t seem very comfortable around men, or around me. Maybe it was the gun I was wearing.

… Ok. So, firstly, obvs the wedding planner is horrible because she can’t deal with menz, and secondly, Anita, why have you brought a weapon to a wedding? Are you expecting a sudden ravenous band of orc warriors? What the fuck?

This was Larry’s day, and none of us wanted to screw it up. Oh, and Tammy’s day.

Oh, fuck you and your sanctimonious hatred of women.  Tammy starts walking down the aisle, and after some backstabby insults about her makeup and dress, Anita is forced to admit that Tammy looks good. ‘I’d never really noticed that Detective Tammy was beautiful’ AKA I’ve never wanted to acknowledge that she’s a fellow human being. Larry looks to Tammy and it’s all wonderful and he’s so overcome and then the Iceberg Blake rises up out of the waters to ruin everything.

Of course, if they’d done two hours’ worth of makeup on Larry, he might have been a vision, too. But men don’t have to worry about it. The double standard is alive and well.

Of course it is, there you go being a part of it. Tammy is only beautiful because of the makeup.

I leaned back in line and tried not to embarrass anyone. I’d tied my hair back while it was still wet so that it lay flat and smooth to my head. I wasn’t cutting my hair so it was the best I could do to look like a boy. There were other parts of my anatomy that didn’t help the boy look either. I am curvy, and even in a tux built for a man, I was still curvy. No one complained, but the wedding coordinator had rolled her eyes when she saw me.

It’s probably because you look awful. Men and woman have different body shapes due to our differing hormones – men tend to be top heavy, while women are bottom heavy. You can’t just grab a man’s tuxedo off the rack and expect it to look superb. It’s not going to fit right – you need a woman’s tuxedo, or it’s not going to look right.

Plus, Anita must be wearing a child’s tuxedo. She’s 5’3, so unless she got a teenager’s tuxedo, she cannot have gotten it off the rack like she claims.

Anita thinks about how this is all just happening because Tammy is pregnant, and how Tammy’s family all blame Larry which is bullshit because it’s not like Tammy was a virgin or anything. She doesn’t like the fact that Tammy’s father is ‘capable of lying that well’ when he looks happy one minute then glares at Larry.

I have no idea what the fuck that means. Anita must get really angry at people who work at shops for lying to her when they wish her a nice day.

We all turned toward the altar, and the familiar ceremony began. I’d been to dozens of weddings over the years, almost all Christian, almost all standard denominations, so the words were strangely familiar.

Lord, you are as thick in the head as a hog is in the butt. ‘Strangely familiar’? If you’ve been to a lot of weddings, then it’s not strange that the words are familar, they’re familiar because you’ve heard them a lot. And let’s not ignore the fact that the Christian wedding ceremony has been all over popular culture for, oh, a thousand years? I think we can all claim to be ‘familiar’ with the ceremony, even if we’re not Christian or are even that invested in marriage culture.

Anita, realising that there’s nothing focusing on her any more, zones out. She starts thinking about her love life and how she brought two dates to the wedding.

I’d been told once by a friend that I was too liberated for my own good.

laugh

Pffffffftttt whatever. You can’t even get through a single page without insulting women for the crime of being women. Anita goes on about how she’s going to buck the system by both partners having an engagement ring – wow so liberated – but then whines about how she’s so never ever going to get married. While she’s internally angsting, the ceremony is finished. Larry and Tammy are officially married, and Anita rains on the parade because the reverend announces them as ‘Mr and Mrs Lawrence Kirkland’ when, STUPIDHEAD, Tammy’s keeping her last name.

why would you ever invite anita to any event

Groomsmen and bridesmaids start pairing up to follow after Larry and Tammy as they leave the church. Anita is partnered with Jessica Arnet, the woman who Anita could only see as being attractive when a man was interested in her. They go outside for photographs, Anita makes passive-aggressive comments about the bride and groom getting all the attention, and then Micah appears.

god i hate micah and the page and a half of description he has to get. See, he’s so pretty he could be a girl, but then he definitely cannot be in anyway connected to anything feminine because women are the ultimate evil, so Anita then goes on about how he’s such a masculy man. She also proclaims her haters to just be jealous.

Their beasts meet and they breathe on each other for a page. When Anita surfaces from this hot erotic action, Jessica Arnet is hugging Nathaniel, who has no way of stopping her without Anita’s help.

How do I end up with men in my life who have such interesting problems? Lucky, I guess.

Look, you guys know I firmly believe Nathaniel is a manipulative abuser. But, let’s look at this from how he’s supposed to be. He’s supposed to be a person so broken by abuse that he is incapable of looking after himself or having a personality.

And Anita calls this ‘interesting’. Broken, battered, empty men are what she finds attractive.

This does not say good things about her. This does not say good things at all.

Anita holds out her hand and Nathaniel wraps his body around her like a snake. Well, I guess this isn’t awkward with the other wedding guests at all. They then breathe and stare at each other’s faces. Anita thinks how she can’t keep him, as if considering giving an animal away.

She thinks about the ardeur (Worst. Plot. Device. EVER.) and how it’s not anything to do with love. She grabs Nathaniel’s face and kisses him, surely embarrassing poor old Jessica Arnet because no one bothered to explain what was happening to her, they just let her flirt with Nathaniel so they could judge and belittle her.

She then thinks about how you can’t have a romantic relationship with steak. Right.

When I turned to the next smiling person in line, I caught Detective Jessica Arnet giving me a look. It wasn’t an entirely friendly look. Great, just great.

To be fair, you are all arseholes. And it’s just been made obvious that you’ve all been making fun of her. So, for good measure, fuck you.

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11 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Incubus Dreams’ chapter one

  1. This is not the scene you want to open your book with. Spend a few chapters building your character as someone snarky who hates crowds and social events, and then I might be more forgiving when you throw this at me. Right now, Anita just seems mean.

    Also, how the hell does that tux fit her? With her teeny tiny height and her massive chest, there shouldn’t be many off-the-rack female suits that fit her, let alone mens suits.

    • Yeah, there is no way she got that tux off the rack. Like, I think women wearing tuxes is hella rad, but this is just presented as way for Anita to be a shit towards Tammy.

      • Right? Like even when I bind, I still have trouble finding mens jackets that fit. Granted, I have an easier time with slacks, but my hips aren’t as ample as most females’. Granted, I still have some rear, which can cause issues. Still, considering I have an easier time than most females looking for mens suits, there is no way that Anita, ill portioned freak of nature that she is, will find anything in her size.

    • Yeah, I was wondering how her ginormous EEE bosoms and her big ole “not a white girl” bootie would fit in a man’s off the rack tux.

  2. Honestly, I would do the same thing as Anita here: wear a tux. Except I’d be A: buying those sweet red Tartan Doc Martens I’ve eyeballed for similar events, and B: buying a woman’s tux. Because I’m the same height as her, and probably just as “curvy,” and I know damn well men’s pants in particular don’t fit anyone with anything remotely resembling hips. ESPECIALLY when you’re short.

    Then again, I have very few friends who would even get married, let alone be crazy enough to ask me to stand with them, so I’m pretty safe.

  3. To be fair about the dress comment, she is talking about the bridesmaid’s dresses, not the bride’s. That said, it does feel like Hamilton once again showing her age.

    And that she still doesn’t understand that men’s and women’s clothes (even similar garments) are cut differently, because men and women have different body shapes.

    “This was Larry’s day, and none of us wanted to screw it up. Oh, and Tammy’s day.”

    That doesn’t explain why you’re packing, Anita. Do you actually expect someone to attack the ceremony?

    Also, the stereotype is that the wedding is all about the *bride*, not the groom.

    “I wasn’t cutting my hair so it was the best I could do to look like a boy.”

    Okay, I have to ask this – why? Unlike her various boitois, she actually has a *reason* to want her hair short. This whole “holding their hair hostage” thing is such crap, and it makes no sense. And no, Anita, tying your hair back would *not* make you look masculine, because men’s and women’s faces also look different.

    And here’s a question: why does Anita *always* bring two of her boitois to any social gathering? I can only thing of two reasons: one, it’s so she’s constantly the center of attention, even when the occasion is about someone else, like it is here (i.e. “she brought *two* dates”); and two, she just needs that much emotional support at all times.

    • Tammy’s dress is huge and poofy as well. It’s 1981 all over again!

      She can’t say it’s Tammy’s day because that would be implying that another woman was important in any way.

      I’ve had short hair my whole life, and I really don’t look like a bloke. Although LKH might think I do because I don’t meet her curve minimum requirement for women.

      She has to have two because she has to rub her romantic life in everyone’s faces. I’m not sure whether Larry gave her a plus two on her invite, but I sure as hell hope she asked. Because otherwise that’s just freaking rude.

  4. Man, I wish people would simply see me as a boy for simply having short hair. Mens coats, dress shirts, and jeans. I still get ma’amed/ missed 99% of the time. Also, I want to know why she even needs to look like a boy. I understand if they want her to wear a tux on the grooms’ side, but why the need to actually look like a bloke?

  5. I’m just going to take a moment to applaud you, Dottie, for getting this far. This was the book that broke me. As in, I could not physically read it anymore because it was so stupid I ended up reading the same three pages over and over and over until I switched to audiobook. And soon after I couldn’t deal with that, either. I just plain ran out of fucks to give.

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