Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Circus of the Damned

Posted October 4, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Circus of the Damned

Circus of the Damned


Laurell K. Hamilton

erotic romance, urban fantasy that was published by Berkley on January 2, 2007) and has 303 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Hit List, Bloody Bones, Killing Dance, Burnt Offerings, Narcissus in Chains, Obsidian Butterfly, Bite, Incubus Dreams, Micah, Danse Macabre, The Harlequin, Blood Noir, Skin Trade, Flirt, Bullet, Never After, Kiss the Dead, The First Death, Affliction, Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, "Shutdown", A Kiss of Shadows, Lunatic Café, A Caress of Twilight, Seduced by Moonlight, A Stroke of Midnight, Mistral’s Kiss, A Lick of Frost, Blue Moon, Dead Ice, Jason, Crimson Death

Third in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series revolving around the feisty, determined Anita in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s been two months since Laughing Corpse, 2.

My Take

It’s another terrifying step into the vampire world when a group of vampire bites are found on various victims, and only Anita can talk to both sides: vampire and police. Unfortunately. It means the months that Anita has managed to avoid Jean-Claude are all for naught. It’s that implacable ruthlessness of his that so infuriates Anita — and me! It works perfectly for forcing Anita to make the decision she does.

And that’s just part of the tremendous tension Hamilton creates in Circus of the Damned. It’s Jean-Claude pushing and getting angrier when Anita continues to reject him, the twist in the usual vampire behavior we expect from the bad guys, running over a child and the ensuing chase, and Edward threatening torture: Hamilton knows how to crank up my anxiety levels.

Yeah, Anita does make me crazy sometimes. She’s so self-righteous, but I do love her stubbornness. She stands her ground no matter what. And it will all change Jean-Claude.

I thought Anita was awfully patient with Yasmeen, and I’d be so furious with Jean-Claude and his implacable ruthlessness.

“‘Tell Yasmeen what the vampires call you, Anita.’
‘The Executioner.’
‘I thought you’d be taller.’
‘It disappoints me, too, sometimes.'”

Yuck, we learn about animalistic vampires…! They sound like humans hopped up on PCP, only, stronger.

“I always like to know if I’ve killed someone. Makes the police report go so much smoother.”

I dunno. For all his claims that he wants Anita’s cooperation, Ruebens and Inger sure go about it all wrong. It’s a theme, however, one that Alejandro is following as well.

“How can I torture you if you keep making me laugh?”

Wow, Jean-Claude is definitely an improvement over Nikolaos, but I have to wonder how much seeing as so many of the people around him are terrified of making him mad. Another reason to like Anita and her stubbornness, LOL. Even if she does admit to her lust.

“‘You had to be a cop in a past life,’ Dolph said. ‘You’re too devious not to be.'”

Argh, Hamilton makes me nuts with these competing human servant marks! Jean-Claude’s point about her needing the remaining two marks from him to protect her, especially when Alejandro has, inexplicably, given her one. Something that should be impossible. The scenario he paints frightens me to death, and yet Anita, even though she knows why — and she makes me nuts with her refusing the next two marks Alejandro or Mr. Oliver could do to her — refuses!

For all her experience, Anita can be amazingly trusting! So her car is dead. Rent one! Why trust a lamia??!

Edward is such a conundrum. He’s ruthless, pitiless, willing to torture anyone for what he wants. And yet he’s proving to be a good friend. With a sense of humor when Richard shows up at Anita’s door. He’s also honest, a trait that Anita values. Knowing what I know — the words Anita speaks to Richard, the snarky asides from Jean-Claude — it just hurts. And it is a great example of foreshadowing…

Poor Richard. He’s only what he hates because he was too afraid.

The Story

Bert is irked that Anita keeps dropping her animator appointments to help the police with murders committed by multiple vampires. Poor baby.

Not only is it frustrating for Bert, but Dolph is almost as discouraged as his vampire expert as Anita discovers how much she doesn’t know about vampires. The ones killing people behave unlike anything anyone has ever known. Even more surprising are how easily newly made vampires are being created!

Nor are the cops and Bert the only ones craving Anita’s company. Mr. Oliver and Alejandro want her to change allegiances, Humans First are demanding her aid, and Richard Zeeman simply wants a date and more.

The Characters

Anita Blake is a powerful animator of the dead, a necromancer, who works at Animators, Inc.; she’s also on retainer with RPIT as part of Bert’s marketing plan, and a legal vampire executioner for the State of Missouri. It’s supposed to be a step up, needing a warrant to execute a vampire. Sigh, the good old days… Veronica “Ronnie” Sims is a private detective and Anita’s friend. The recently married Catherine Maison-Gillett is another of her friends. Good enough that Anita has to go to her Halloween party. Mrs. Pringle and Custard, her Pomeranian, are two of Anita’s neighbors. Edward is Death, a supernatural assassin because humans were just too easy. He has a contract to kill the Master of the City and intends to force Anita to point him out.

Animators, Inc. is…
…where Anita works, and the avaricious Bert Vaughn is her ex-football-playing boss who’s ticked at her for helping the cops. John Burke, from Laughing Corpse, is a new hire, and another one who likes his women as china dolls. Lawrence Kirkland is the newest employee; he’s doing it as part of a class at school.

The Regional Preternatural Investigation Team ((RPIT)), a.k.a.,
…the Spook Squad is a task force headed up by Detective Sergeant Dolph Storr. Sergeant Zerbrowski is his snarky, messy second.

The Vampires

Jean-Claude is a master vampire who engineered a takeover of St. Louis using Anita to kill the previous Master of the City. French and incredibly gorgeous, Anita is attracted to him but fears for her soul. Willie McCoy, the first vampire Anita knew before he was turned, tries to help her. Stephen is a werewolf who works for Jean-Claude. Yasmeen is Jean-Claude’s second with ambitions; Marguerite is her out-of-control human servant. The fight introduces the junior high science teacher Richard Zeeman, naked, in bed with Rashida.

The Church of Eternal Life is…
…where you’re guaranteed knowing what happens after you die. Malcolm is the undead Billy Graham.

The Earthmover is…
…a millions-year-old vampire, Mr. Oliver. His nickname reflects his power. He has formed some interesting alliances to take the city from Jean-Claude. He has an interesting entourage…ick… Inger is the human servant. Melanie is a lamia and his animal to call. Ronald, Blondie, and Smiley are part of her harem. It’s just creepy how insistent Melanie is on their being such “gentlemen”. Raju is one of the men and her primary mate.

Alejandro is another old master vampire with his particular entourage of vampires. Both Mr. Oliver and Alejandro put their own marks on Anita.

Humans Against Vampires (HAV) is…
…an organization, which, obviously, does not like vampires. Their official stance is the use of legal and political means to turn the law back to when anyone could stake a vampire without incurring a murder charge.

Humans First is…
…a spin-off from HAV, and Jeremy Ruebens is the leader. Karl Inger, one of the members, and Ruebens meet at the Animators, Inc. office. They’re interested in finding out the daytime resting place of the Master of the City and they think Anita knows it/him.

Andrew Doughal is the zombie Larry raises. Almost. The short Irving Griswold is a werewolf, a friend of Anita’s, and a reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Cal Rupert and Reba Baker are victims.

The Cover and Title

The cover is similar to the Laughing Corpse in its basic layout: a narrow black band across the top with the bulk of it a horrifying image in waiting of four vertical slashes in an old tattered paper.

The title is where it’s at: the Circus of the Damned. I’m with Anita, why would parents bring their kids to something like this?