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.
Small Kansas town, huh? I think I’d read this book for the nod to my home state if nothing else.
Honestly, the plot isn’t that complicated.
The major plot specific to this book is the discovery in Las Vegas and identification of the two “cold case” corpses of the young lovers tied to the mob origins of the city. All the others feed into that, namely:
1) Delilah as the detedtive (and what her unknown/mysterious-dreams-involving-aliens background may be); including the apparent death of her apparent identical twin Lilith); this brings her to Las Vegas, where she meets
2) Ric, his talent for “corpse dowsing,” and his connection to Delilah;
3) both of which connect to the Y2K revelations concerning the existence of paranormal beings, of which there are a myriad in the book, as you mentioned in your review, although you miss the significance of Delilah’s two(?) dogs, Achilles and Quicksilver; all of which tie back to
4) Hector Nightwine, who has connections with all of the above.
In the course of the book, Delilah’s focus does not jump from one thing to another. She simply comes at the problem posed by the specific plot from a variety of different angles. This is excellent investigative methodology.
Try reading it again, with focus, rather than letting the entertainment distract you.
I put this on my TBP list before it was even released and just haven’t gotten around to buying it yet. But, based on your description, I think I’m going to move it up in priority and make a point to buy it and read it ASAP. It sounds like my kind of book!
I totally agree with Ms. DeMarce that the plot isn’t that complicated but you do have to pay attention to what you are reading. Ms. Douglas is an author of note who imbues her characters with three dimensional depth. A great deal of the fun is in watching her characters grow and develop with the story lines in subsequent books. I must confess that I am not a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Urban Fantasy but I found DWW delightful and truly held my interest. What I want to know is, when will book 2 in the series be published?
But if you’re reading a book for fun, and it’s not fun the first time around, why would you read it twice?
Because if you read it again with understanding, it may become fun also.
In reading “Dancing with Werewolves,” I found it great as a set up to more books in the same scenario. The primer of the set so to speak. I personally am looking forward to more from this author and more of the Deliah adventures with the Werewolves, Vampires and undead of the Las Vegas area.
Having lived and worked in the same area, much of what is written is true to form, of the norm and seriously fun to compare Ms Douglas’s scene with the real Las Vegas. We all have known good police, bad police and several people who may or may not be wolves in human guise.
Personally, I found it a quick, fun read and am looking forward to more.
While I agree that the first few chapters had some issues, once we meet Ric the book takes off and it was back to the awesome writing I am used to seeing from Carole Nelson Douglas. :P I’m not quite finished at the moment, but have been enjoying the ride immensely so far and have not had problems with the plot. If anything, it’s great that there are so many layers, and how things which do not seem related end up tied together anyway.
I think I’m an odd man out. I’ve been trying to read this book for the past couple of weeks and nothing in it is drawing me in. I actually thought the book was doing well until we ended up in Vegas. Once there, it just seemed to go downhill for me. It was harder to see where the plot was going with all the errands and then the interactions with the old vampire and then the werewolf triad was just weird. Also, I didn’t like how Delilah kept getting forced into situations. I haven’t given up on this novel yet, but I’m putting it aside for right now.
Thanks for the information… I’m going to give it a shot!
This was my wifes choice of reading on a recent holiday. She gave up on it without completing the read. I picked it up for a flick through and although I struggled to get into it at first, I finally quite enjoyed it. The plot built well and was not over complicated with some strong charactorisation.
As a salsa dancing fan, I like this book very much, I didn’t get tie to read this as I bougt this for my daughter for his christmas hamper, but I’m looking forward to getting stuck in after she reads it