Author: Jordan L. Hawk
Pages/Word Count: 106 Pages
At a Glance: So badass. I’ll just leave it at that.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Revenge. Murder. Ballet?
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: Among the many notes and gasps and exclamations I made while I was reading the latest installment in the SPECTR series, one of the thoughts that kept tripping through my head was, how does Jordan L. Hawk keep coming up with the ideas for her stories? I mean, a demon that dances its victims to death? If you don’t understand how macabre and gruesome a concept that truly is, you need to read Dancer of Death. It’ll make a believer out of you from Chapter One.
Because I’ve already opined in myriad ways about how much I love John and Grayleb since book one of the first SPECTR series, I want to start by talking up two of the newer characters, agents Zahira Noorzai and Karl Rand. First of all, the diversity they both bring to the series is nothing short of awesome, but their acceptance of Caleb and Gray as a valued member of the team rather than the monster so many of their fellow agents believe they are just makes me love them that much more. I adore Zahira as a partner to John and Grayleb but have a mad amount of respect for her as an individual too, and I love that both she and Karl are breaking down stereotypes just by being true to themselves. In fact, I hope we get to know Karl a lot better as the series continues.
One of the points Dancer of Death also reinforces is the literal gray area of Gray’s own gender. We think of Gray as “he” because John and Caleb use the male pronoun, so it’s easy to forget that Gray’s sexuality is ambiguous or, really, just plain neutral. What I love about this little reminder is that, while Gray is fond of Caleb, Gray is entirely John-sexual. For that reason alone, parts of this story were made more powerful when Gray was feeling threatened and, therefore, protective of John, and it was such a beautiful reminder of how in touch with his “humanity” (don’t tell him I said that) Gray is becoming. It really served to remind me of what a romantic sort of love it is that Gray feels for John, pure and uninhibited by labels or bias or preconceived notions. And lest you need a reminder of how magnificent Gray is, that comes in the form of a scene from Fort Sumter that draws a gorgeous mental picture of our drakul’s other-worldliness (my pithy ::snort:: observation in my notes/highlights on that one was “So Badass”). Looking back on that scene as I was reading it, I have to say that I don’t think I really got the full scope of Gray’s magnitude, not to mention his magnificence, because I was so caught up in the drama and suspense. Believe me, after reading Dancer of Death, I get it now.
John, Grayleb and Zahira are the outliers of SPECTR, facing hate and discrimination from the very team that’s supposed to have their backs, and they do it while getting the job done. The fact that some of the worst villains in this second series are of the human variety and are, for all intents and purposes, the good guys, is a great juxtaposition. But it’s still the supernatural baddies that steal the show, and the level of imagination that went into Dancer of Death? The how of the immense creativity will always be a mystery to me—it’s nothing short of awesome. The action and suspense and tension is meted out in the perfect dose, along with the romance and the question of what else is waiting out there for these agents…
Whatever awaits, I’m sure it’ll be ghoulish and grizzly and impressive, not to mention memorable. The Underlord of the Dance in Dancer of Death isn’t a demon I’ll forget any time soon.
You can buy Dancer of Death here: