Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

Book review: Dancing with Werewolves

Today's book review is Dancing with Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas.

This is yet another entry into the modern vampire genre.  It appears to be the first in a series, but it isn't terribly blatant about trying to blackmail the reader into reading the next book.  There's certainly a number of things left unresolved, but it introduces the world and characters and it comes to a reasonable ending.

This book is something of a quandary.  There's so much I can point to that's wrong with it that it if I didn't approach the book really wanting to like it, there's no question I'd say it was dreadful.  The world-building is weak, and there's a huge amount, from the apparent lack of any limits other than the author's whim on supernatural powers down to the question of how the heroine can afford all the amazing outfits she wears (which are described in rather excruciating detail), that really strain the sense of disbelief.  And there's the frequent turn of phrase that comes off as sophomoric attempts at cleverness.  I almost gave up after a few chapters, but something kept me going, and managed to engage me well enough that I could almost believe that all, or at least a lot, of the apparently terrible writing was deliberate, because in spite of everything wrong, I enjoyed reading the book.  And for all the times I felt a feeling of deus ex machina, I never really felt cheated by it.  Finally, I need to mention the sex.  There's quite a lot of romance; I can't claim to be a connoisseur of romance writing, but I think that aspect of the writing is actually fairly good.  Douglas can actually make reading about the date interesting, whether any actual sex happens after or not.

If you're even a slightly picky reader -- if flaws in the world or the writing disrupt the experience -- you'll hate this book.  But if you can go with the flow, there's a lot of fun here.  6 out of 10.

****  PLOT SUMMARY  --  SPOILERS  ****

The premise is that when the Millennium came long, all the barriers to the supernatural dissolved.  Some legendary stuff was hiding in the shadows all along, but a whole lot more came out into the open when Y2K hit.

Delilah Street is an orphan with a lousy past working as a TV reporter specializing in the supernatural in Kansas when a bad date with the anchorman screws her job and she sees herself featured as a corpse on CSI: Las Vegas.  While she's trying to get an appointment to talk to Hector Nightwine, the producer of the show, she meets Ric, who's demonstrating dowsing to kids in the park.  She tries to tell him off, and he gives her a demonstration that goes beyond both of their expectations, as together they dowse the bodies of a couple murdered decades ago, and channel their highly sexually charged end.  She also adopts an enormous mutt from the humane society's public display, who turns out to be some kind of supernatural guardian, and starts attracting the attention of kinky lowlives.  She manages to talk to Nightwine, who is a ghoul both figuratively and apparently literally, who wants to use her unique acting talents as a corpse and convinces her to accept his retainer and to live in the cottage on his estate.  From there she goes on to meet Snow, the owner of a huge new upstart casino called the Inferno and also the highly erotic lead singer of the Inferno's headline act, a rock band called Seven Deadly Sins.  Snow apparently frames her for the murder of one of his groupies, but also gives him a lock of his hair, which when she touches it transforms into a silver bracelet which for the rest of the story is weirdly shapeshifting into almost any imaginable form, saving her life several times and apparently able to do almost anything except let go of her.  She's arrested by Haskell, a very bad cop, who almost rapes her as he takes her in.  This is caught on Nightwine's security system, who sends Perry Mason (one of the many movie characters given life but enslaved, called CynSims) to get her out of jail.

Bleah.  This covers perhaps the first hundred pages, but I need to go to bed now.  Maybe I'll finish this summary later.
Tags: book review, carole nelson douglas, fantasy
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