DANSE MACABRE

Anita Blake has two problems: The ardeur is choosing new partners for her, and she thinks she's pregnant. These situations are, of course, happening at the most inconvenient time possible -- when six different Masters of the City are in town for a special performance of a vampiric ballet troupe.

Hamilton can be a compelling storyteller, but in this offering she's allowed Anita's elaborate sexual relationships to overpower what should be a fascinating story. The central conflicts -- Anita's growing metaphysical power and her possible pregnancy -- get short shrift while most of the of the book is devoted to Anita either having sex or talking about it. As such, the resolution of both storylines feels unnatural and unearned.

While the sex scenes are interesting on their own, when taken as part of the whole, they are extremely repetitive and distract from the plot. Hamilton fans who enjoy the sexier side of Anita will find nothing wrong with this book, but readers looking for a more substantial foray into dark fantasy may want to look elsewhere. (Jul., 496 pp., $25.95)
Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs