Posted on April 30, 2008 by alanajoli
The Dead Girls’ Dance is a great series books. It starts off right in the thick of the action that, presumably, ended book 1. The characters have relationships that formed over the terrors that transpired as Claire realized she was living in a town peopled by vampires, where humans are no better than slaves. But those relationships have just gotten more complicated, by the fact that Shane’s father, whom he called to help rescue the group, is a vampire hunter gone abusive who brings biker chaos onto the already dangerous Morganville. Shane and Claire are almost in a relationship, and dredging up Shane’s past seems like a sure way to keep that relationship from actually coming into existence. Michael is dead–for about a chapter before he comes back to life–but since he’s a ghost who can’t be killed so long as the house that serves as his soul is unharmed, he comes packed with other difficulties. And Eve’s home-life, including parents who would have been willing to give her over to an older vampire as a sex toy, means her own efforts to build a relationship with the half-living Michael are complicated at best. Add to that Amelie, one of the oldest vampires in existence, and Oliver, her rival, both of whom seem to want something from Claire… Claire may be a genius, going to college and moving to Morganville at sixteen, but it’s an awful lot for a girl to handle–especially when a vampire dies, and Shane is blamed.
The Dead Girls’ Dance is not a stand-alone novel. A reader new to the series (like me) can figure out what’s going on with no problem–but the story doesn’t begin here. Nor does it end here. The conclusion leads straight into Morganville Vampires Book Three (which I’ll be reviewing in the near future). Claire has to choose how best to deal with being wanted by vampires, and how best to gain the protection she and her friends desperately need to survive–how she makes that decision and the consequences of her choice are likely to be the plot of the third entry in the series. As a series book, the story is compelling, the characters sympathetic (even some of the villains), and the world that Caine has drawn is easy to sink into, if not pleasant. Her world is one where monsters aren’t just vampires, but humans, where it’s not safe to be out after dark, and where demons lay in wait in dark alleys.
There are a few flaws with the novel itself. Occasionally Claire, who is the central point-of-view character in the story (though the narrative is in third-person), contradicts her own thoughts in ways that seem more like mistakes than actual changes of mind–she won’t remember something that seems like a fairly obvious thing to remember, or it’s implied that she shared information when in reality, she neglected to mention it. In addition, the title, The Dead Girls’ Dance and the back cover copy (definitely not the author’s fault) imply that the aforementioned dance will actually be a major part of the story–or at least a driving event. But that event is really just an afterthought. As you can see, however, there’s very little to complain about if these are the minor quibbles I’m having with the title.
Overall, I’d recommend the series to people who like their vampire monstrous and scary, who enjoy the politics of the undead, and who like characters who aren’t kick-butt vampire hunters, but just normal young women thrown into a scary world. But I wouldn’t recommend starting with The Dead Girls’ Dance. Start from the beginning, and expect to keep reading right on through as the series continues. I suspect that none of the novels will stand alone.
Review by Alana Abbott
Look for more vampire stories at DriveThruHorror.com.