REVIEW: Dancing with Werewolves by Carole Nelson Douglas
Dear Ms. Nelson Douglas,
The thing I like about the Juno imprint is that it offers a wide variety of fantasy novels featuring strong female protagonists. The titles have run the gamut from sword and sorcery to fantasy romance. So when Dancing with Werewolves arrived on my doorstep, I looked forward to reading this urban fantasy. Ultimately, however, the experience left me feeling confused and disappointed.
Like many other urban fantasies, Dancing with Werewolves is set on an alternate earth where vampires, werewolves, and other things that go bump in the night are known to the general public. I liked how you tied this revelation to 2YK, known as the Millennium Revelation in the book. It’s obvious that a lot of thought went into how their existence would affect the world and how their going public changed society. As a reader who loves fully fleshed out worlds, I really appreciate that although I wish it hadn’t been presented in a way that made the first several chapters drag.
I also loved the characters and how they weren’t ones commonly seen in urban fantasies. The heroine, Delilah Street, works as an investigative reporter in a Kansas small town. Unfortunately for Del, she’s what you’d call vampire bait — with her white skin and black hair, vampires from all parts want to take a bite out of her. The latest admirer is her vampire news anchor co-worker but when she rejects his drunken advances, Del finds her usual paranormal beat taken from her and her house destroyed by a jealous weather witch. So when she sees a woman who bears a striking resemblance to herself dissected on a popular forensic TV show, Del heads to Las Vegas to find out who that actress was and why she looked so much liked Del.
The people she meets in Vegas are even more interesting: half-werewolf motorcycle gangs, a voyeuristic ghoul who owns the forensic show franchise, an albino rockstar who likes to giveshapeshifting jewelry as gifts, a corpse dowser love interest, and my personal favorite: the stage magician Madrigal and his assistants, the deadly faerie sisters Sylphia and Phasia. Without a doubt, I would read an entire book about those three alone.
I thought Del’s fondness for vintage clothing was fun and unique in a subgenre known for its fondness of leather. I also loved the salsa dancing between Del and Ric and wished there could have been more scenes at Los Lobos. (But I admit I wasn’t too keen on Ric’s tendency to pull down Del’s skirts so that she would bare more skin.) And I also thought the various kinds of zombies were also very interesting and fresh.
What didn’t work for me as well was the actual plot. I felt as if there was almost too much going on and that made it hard for me to follow. Del seemed to hop from one case to another, one mystery or another, and the connections between them weren’t always the most obvious to me. It gave me whiplash and made me doubt Del’s attention span. Half the time I wasn’t sure why she made the choices she made and why she chose one lead over another. Even after finishing the book, I’m still not sure I understand how everything was resolved. Combined with a slow beginning that almost made me put down the book, this is a C- for me.
This book can be purchased in mass market.