Published by: Widdershins Press LLC (February 16, 2016)
Format: Kindle ARC
Reviewed by: Erin
What kind of awesome can you expect inside: Ballet, bodies, bones, and babes.
Plot: Vampire spirit Gray wants to hunt demons. Unfortunately, the foolish mortals at SPECTR have put his host, Caleb, their lover John, and their partner Zahira, on desk duty. Gray longs to leave Charleston with John, but if they flee, SPECTR will make them the hunted.
A series of paranormal murders returns the team to the field, at least temporarily. Ballerinas are being murdered by a vila, a demon that kills with dance. If they can’t stop the deadly attacks in time, one of Zahira’s friends may become the next victim.
And while they track the demon, an unknown entity has begun to track Gray…
Review: Jordan L. Hawk’s Dancer of Death is a terrific next installment in her SPECTR series, giving us the further adventures of John Starkweather and his partner (s), the human Caleb and the demon Gray. (They share a body…and share John’s body.) The mystery here involves a ballet company and a demon who forces its victims to dance themselves to death. And yes, if you know Jordan Hawk, you know that this gives her the opportunity to write some seriously grisly scenes. There’s a bit in the beginning with wet, crunching bones that will stick with me for a long, long time. *shudder*
There is some progression in the overall character and plot arc, including a mysterious presence that Gray and Caleb have noticed several times, but are unsure what kind of being it is. Caleb joins a support group for other people who have paranormal abilities, while trying to stay out of the way of District Chief Barillo, who hates and mistrusts him. Zahira finally learns the real reason that the rest of the SPECTR agents are frightened of Gray and Caleb, and reacts in wonderful Zahira fashion.
Speaking of Zahira, I loved the scenes of her and Rania, her friend in the ballet company, as well as the friends they meet at a club. As always, the women are terrifically written, and I love how diverse they are. Not only are they diverse racially, but the women all have different personalities, attitudes, body shapes. It’s like they’re real, entire individuals, or something? It’s so sad how rare this is, that it’s noteworthy.
(Can we start an online petition for JLH to write a f/f series? WIll that work? Can’t hurt, right?)
Overall, this novella feels like a transitional moment between the intro of SPECTR 2.1 and whatever larger mystery we’re building up to. There are some great scenes from familiar characters, but not a ton of forward movement. The sex at times feels like a placeholder, rather than something that moves the plot along or reveals something about the characters. But it’s fast, fun, creepy-icky, and we get to spend time with these characters we love. It doesn’t work well on its own, but that’s okay. I am so invested in this series, and I’m excited to see what this mysterious presence is, and what the next chapter is for John, Caleb/Gray, and Zahira!
What you may not like: It doesn’t work as a standalone, and if icky bloody corpses aren’t your thing, give this one a pass!
What I loved: The fast pace, the well-rounded characters in a short book, the new mystery of the mysterious presence.