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Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Author:  Carole Nelson Douglas 
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
Publisher and Titles:
     Dancing with Werewolves (Juno, 2007)
    Brimstone Kiss (Juno, 2008)
    Vampire Sunrise (Pocket, 2009)
    Silver Zombie (Pocket, 2010)
    Virtual Virgin (Pocket, 2011)       

     This blog entry was revised and updated on 1/3/12 to include a review of the fifth book in the series: Virtual Virgin. That review is located at the very end of the entry immediately following this summary of the series so far:

     In this series, the heroine combines the strength and sassiness of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake with the magical mirror walking of Alice (the one from Wonderland).  She is also a bit headstrong and doesn't think things through very well. Paranormal investigator (and former television reporter) Delilah faces supernatural bad guys (including vamps, werewolves, demons, and zombies) and solves paranormal mysteries in 2013 Las Vegas, more than a decade after the Millennium Revelationwhen the world learned that supernatural creatures are real. 
     Delilah begins the series mostly human, but she soon begins to develop powers related to silver (thus, the mirror walking, since mirrors are backed with silver). As Delilah says, "Reflective surfaces had been my friend since I'd come to las Vegas in search of my roots. If it shone, glittered, and reflected, I'd always been able to pass through, even if I'd reach the other side bleary and confused. And Vegas had been built on shine, glitter, and glitz." (Virtual Virgin, p. 70)
     Delilah Moves to Las Vegas primarily to find a woman (Lilith Quince) who seemingly is her identical twin. She saw the girl on a TV show called CSI, but this isn't the CSI currently on television in our world. Delilah explains: "Lilith supposedly was one of the TV series' actual corpses, who kill themselves for the immortality of being taped during their autopsy on the number one show in the world." (Virtual Virgin, p. 110) Lilith, however, is not dead, and Delilah is determined to get to know her better and to discover just what their relationship is.
     Delilah's faithful, magical wolfhound, Quicksilver, backs her up in her battles and heals her afterward. Also by her side is her hot Latino boyfriend, Ric Montoya (aka Cadaver Kid), an ex-FBI agent who can locate and raise dead bodies. Other colorful characters include Snow (aka Christophe), a casino-owning rock star who may be the devil himself; Hector, a flesh-eating ghoul who is Delilah's eccentric landlord; and a variety of CinSims (from cinema simulacrums), seemingly real people who are actually the result of melding silver-screen stars with zombie bodies. These CinSims become more and more important to the plots as the series progresses. Here, Delilah explains: "The most complex beings in my brave new world are the CinSims. Cinema Simulacrums are created by blending fresh zombie bodies illegally imported from Mexico with classic black-and-white film characters. The resulting "live" personas are wholly owned entertainment entities leased to various Vegas enterprises." (Virtual Virgin, p. 4)
     In Dancing with Werewolves, Delilah moves to Las Vegas after she is run out of Wichita by a jealous weather witch, meets Ric, searches for her mysterious look-alike, and gets involved with the local werewolf mob.
     In Brimstone Kiss, Delilah and Ric solve the murder of a pair of lovers found together in an unmarked grave and Ric is nearly killed by a group of ancient Egyptian vampires. 
     In Vampire Sunrise, she mixes it up with those same Egyptian vampires deep below a casino and battles a supernatural monster who is terrorizing the werewolves' casino. 
    In Silver Zombie, Delilah and Ric head for Wichita, KansasDelilah's home town, to delve into the secrets of her past. By the end of their adventure, Ric has confronted his childhood nemesis, the demon who enslaved him from the age of four. Ric also performs an astonishing magical feat that gets the instant attention of Snow. He soon discovers that it will change his life forever. In this book, we finally discover why Delilah has those nightmares about being probed by aliensand it definitely is a major surprise. 
     The first few pages of Virtual Virgin provide a summary of most of the action of the first four books. As Virtual Virgin opens, Ric is trying to decide what to do with the robotic female CinSim that he raised (in the previous book) from the movie Metropolis. Ric feels a real responsibility for her future, and she keeps calling him, Master, to Ric's discomfort and Delilah's jealous exasperation. The other primary story threads in this book are family-related, and they involve Delilah's search for the identity of her parents and her developing relationship with her sister, Lilith. (She does meet her mother in this book.) The final big adventure comes out of nowhere as Ric and his mentor, Tallchief, head for Juarez, Mexico, for another battle with Torbellino (aka El Demonio) and his zombie army. Delilah's love life gets a thorough examination in this book, and it all comes down to to a trio of possibilities. Here is Delilah as she thinks about this: "Sansouci's mantra replayed in my head. Ric loves you. I want you. Snow needs you....You're going to have to decide who you're safest with, and who's safest with you....Or, I added mentally: who I most want and need to save and who most wants and needs to save me." (pp. 363-364) By the end of the book, Delilah's worst fears about Ric are confirmed, and she discovers exactly why Snow needs her.
     This book follows the usual pattern of the previous ones, with rambling, intersecting, and sometimes dead-end story lines that come and go and intermittently connect. It seems to me that there are a lot more vintage-clothing-fashionista moments in this book, but I could be mistaken about that since it's been a long time since I read the last book. I like the characters of Ric and Delilah, and respect the personal freedom they maintain in their relationship, but, frankly, the zigzagging plot lines and the continuous bizarre magical scenes are beginning to turn me off. As I said in my opening sentence, this is really like Alice in Wonderlandbut freakishly ramped up. 
     A series twist is that in each book Delilah invents an exotic drink that usually has the same name as the book's title (except for book 1, in which the drink is called an Albino Vampire). Drink recipes are included in each book. 
    Meanderingthat's the word I'd use to describe the plots, as they wander aimlessly from one intensely magic-infused situation to another. Delilah constantly and annoyingly pauses for extensive interior monologues when she is under attack and is supposed to be planning her strategy to get out alive. She really has trouble focusing on the battle at hand. Delilah and Ric frequently have separate adventures as each goes off on independent investigations. 

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