I’ve touched on the Anita Blake series before, where I had a little bit of a rant about the amount of sex in the books. Specifically, sex with guys with long hair and big dicks. Truth is, I was way too invested in the series before it got to that point, and I carried on reading because sometimes the plot made me want to keep reading, even if it got pushed by the wayside for all the sexual antics of Anita. But Micah, to me, feels like it made a bit of a turning point. It wasn’t all about sex. Instead, it was about Anita’s relationship with just one of the men, and showed a point where she actually had to confront what was happening in her life.
Similarly, I feel like Danse Macabre shows a point where Hamilton actually manages to balance the sex and plot, blending them together so the sex scenes actually make sense and aren’t just thrown in there for the sake of erotica.
Anita Blake, the Executioner, is preparing to go to a meeting with some out-of-town vampire masters. They’ve brought with them possible candidates for Anita. See, she needs to feed off sex, after inheriting some powers from Jean-Claude, and in trying to gain favour and allies, Jean-Claude allows the other masters to bring in people who Anita could possibly feed off. But that’s not the most important problem in Anita’s life.
She thinks she might just be pregnant.
But that’s not the only problem. There are a few different possible fathers, and the questions are raised on whether the kid could be a vampire or shifter. Hamilton has put a lot of thought into the world she has created – the questions of children fathered by supernatural creatures has been raised before, with syndromes and diseases, carried by the potential children, having been mentioned. Of course, Anita worries that her possible child could be infected with one of these.
Danse Macabre also shows the strengthening of Jean-Claude’s power base, and the impact this has on those around him and Anita. Anita seems to be growing stronger, and having sex with a few of the visitors has consequences beyond what we’ve seen in previous books.
This novel, the fourteenth in the series, also explains some of Anita’s previous, seemingly out of character choices. We see another side to her, see a vulnerability that hasn’t really been revealed before, and get to see why, exactly, she attracts the men she does. Why Micah seemed to appear, almost magically, in her life when she needed someone like him. Why others are drawn to her and why she seems to just lose it at times.
But not all of the men are perfect. Any one reading the series will, by this point, be getting pretty fed up with Richard. Richard, the alpha of the local werewolf pack. But, and this is crucial point, Richard’s arc has been done really well. He acts like a downright bastard at times, but Hamilton lets us know why he acts like he does and why he gets so damn pissed off all the time. And it works. Annoyingly, it works, and it’s made clear why Anita may still love him, even when she hates him.
Danse Macabre shows the men of Anita’s world coming together to support her when she needs it most. It also reflects the tension between the men and Anita herself, building on the relationship aspects and the real complexities Anita faces with her current lifestyle. And there are some moments of downright creepiness, especially when the child vampire comments on how nice it would be to have someone smaller than her around. As well as the usual vampires and shifters, we get to see a bit more of the supernatural world in these books, with Anita meeting mermaids and trying to navigate the politics of a world she’s still not quite used to.
This book makes me feel glad that I didn’t give up on the series. Although it’s missing the crime scenes and monster hunts that made me originally fall in love with the world, it still adds a lot to the series as a whole, has some interesting character development and manages to blend the plot and romance more effectively than previous books. I just hope it’s kept up in the next books.