If the mask is the official calling card, why did Anita get it? Leaving LKH's overwhelming ego aside, Anita is a subordinate in the vampire universe. Jean Claude might have manipulated her into accepting the role, but Anita is just a vampire servant. She's chosen a role that leaves her taking commands, not giving them. The fact that only an idiot would command her to do anything (mostly because it'd get lost in the ensuing dick-measuring contest) doesn't matter a hill of beans. If the Harlequin need to notify somebody that they're here, why in the name of fuck would they do that song and dance at the theater? Why not sneak into Jean Claude's dressing room at Guilty Pleasures and drop it on his desk?
Yes. The obvious answer is "Because LKH has to make Anita the center of EVERYTHING". But this plot--so far!--doesn't center on Anita. It's Malcolm and his people who are in the shit, and Anita's only role is in getting bullshit warrents on innocent vamps. This is actually a good plot. It fits my biggest rule for writing overpowered characters--they don't start shit, they just end it. This isn't caused by Anita fucking OR by her fucking up--and done right, it could be a really good character arc for everyone involved. Malcolm has to decide how he stands with the vampire council, ditto Jean Claude, Anita has to decide between following human laws to the letter or risking her career to save innocent lives, and the Harlequin could come through and thin the Harem a little bit.
NONE of that will happen, of course, but I want to point out that this is what it could have been.
They then explain that the Harlequin is the basis for the Wild Hunt.
Excuse me while I go vomit for a while. (Another reason I haven't done more Merry, other than Merry being incredibly boring--I do not like LKH's take on fairies. I like the nastiness just fine, but it's the constant sexualization. For me, that kind of takes the teeth out. If you can solve a problem by flashing your va-jay-jay it doesn't seem all that dangerous to me. There's an element of fuck-not-given that LKH's Fae just do not have. I think it goes back to the MC has to be the center of attention...thing)
Also: How can the Harlequin be the Wild Hunt? There's implications that Harlequin the clown came from Harlequin the assassin club, which would mean they kind of own the word, but the Hunt is OLD. MUCH older than the french. Given the amount of significance attached to the word Harlequin in this series (Don't later books reveal that just saying the word attracts their attention?) the whole Harlequin-is-the-Hunt thing is a little bit like putting sour cream in an oreo. They weren't made to go together and you can kind of tell.
Anita infodumps about the Hunt, and while I hope to GOD the Hunt never comes up in this series again EVER (Christ even Sholto the Tenticled One was better than the image of Pretty Pretty Vampires with their pet cats filling the role) the info dump isn't actually that bad. At least it's in Anita's own fucking voice this time around.
Why did the wild hunt just stop riding, if it was real?”This sentence, for me, proves how fucking wasted this setting is. It's like magic didn't exist until twenty years before this series started, when the series lore says it was always there. Anita has blown off the idea of the Hunt being real because it should still be riding if it were real. THAT idea is bone chilling pants shitting scary. A MODERN DAY WILD HUNT. THAT YOU CANNOT STOP. THAT IS NOT A SECRET, EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT IT AND THEY JUST HAVE TO DEAL.
I would read the FUCK out of that book.
(This is actually one of the things I fucking loved about Sunshine, other than it being my fucking life at the time. The nightmares aren't just real in that series: THEY ARE A PART OF EVERY DAY LIFE. Shapeshifters have anti-shifting drugs. Every house has to have wards and charms as a matter of course. YOU CAN SCRY THROUGH THE INTERNET.)
And it's not this book. WHY is it not this book? Why are we reading page after page after page after page of monotonous, uninteresting NON CONSENSUAL sex when we could be reading about how people get ready for the Wild Hunt the way we do fucking hurricanes.
...because it's not centered on Anita.
“I am saying that the legend existed and we took advantage of it. The Harlequin adopted the persona of the wild hunt. For it was something that people already feared.”You just contradicted yourself within two pages. Fuck you.
(Also: GIVE. THE WILD HUNT. BACK, VAMPIRES. IT ISN'T YOURS.)
“There is only one Harlequin at a time, but there are other Harlequin as a group name. Whatever names they had once, they have adopted the names and masks of the commedia dell’arte.”It took three read-throughs to understand what the FUCK they were talking about. So apparently the Harlequin decided that dressing up like the state clowns of Venice was the absolute best way ever to strike terror into the hearts of vampires everywhere. They borrow the legend of the Wild Hunt and then dress up as motherfucking clowns.
LEAST. SCARY. ASSASSIN CLUB. EVER.
Dear fucking God that means there is a vampire assassin named Punchinello. As in Punch and Judy. AND THEY EXPECT PEOPLE TO TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY.
THEN they establish that even though they gave Anita a white mask, the Harlequen are fucking with them exactly the way they fucked with the last guy they killed.
The assassin clowns don't even follow their own rules. Gotcha.
“They turned our own powers against us, Anita. We were a kiss made up almost entirely of Belle Morte’s line. They turned our gifts against us so that the blade bit deep, and we bled for them.”
Translation: They fucked themselves insane, and possibly to death. And about a page later Bryon says the same thing, and that they had no choice in who they fucked.
............I lived through Danse Macabre. I do not like where this is going. Given that LKH hasn't consiously tried to write a rape scene (Most of her sex scenes ARE rape scenes, but she won't admit that) I DO NOT want to read her idea of what rape actually is.
Though if it's actually indiscernable from the London scene, I will be rolling.
Bryon and Requiem snark at each other, and then everyone realizes that UH OH the Harlequin is fucking with their anger, too. Jean Claude decides the best way to resolve this is to call a meeting with the Harlequin and try to get things resolved.
Nobody else thinks this is a good idea.
Anita thinks they should call the cops on the Harlequin and fight them within the letter and spirit of the law. Everybody thinks this is an even worse idea but I for one am applauding. Hello, old Anita, it's so nice to see you again. I am sorry this moment of sanity will soon be drowned.
Then another box with another mask is brought down from one of the clubs. It's another white mask and somehow Jean Claude figures it means the Harlequin know he wants to meet with them and they're setting up a meeting. It also means the Harlequin are listening in. OF COURSE THEY ARE, if they're close enough to fuck with your anger they're close enough to evesdrop.
I'm not finding them very scary. Maybe it's the clown part.
Anita assumes they're using bugs and tells them to sweep the room.
This brings up a (boring) debate about how Vampires Don't Use Tech.
Then, and ONLY then, does Anita look inside the mask. The date and location for the meeting are written inside, and OF COURSE they're having the meeting at the Circus. Recycling locations notwithstanding, if I were the Harlequin I probably wouldn't want to have the meeting on my prey's home turf. That's the kind of move you make when you're trying to pacify somebody and the Harlequin are here to shake things up. Making Jean Claude come out in the open to meet with them would be a good dominance move and it would freak him and everyone attached to him the fuck out. Especially if it were in a place impossible to secure, like an open field (bullets, rocket propelled grenades, sprinklers full of Holy Water).
Anita closes the chapter hoping that they find bugs, because being spied on psychically gives her the willies.
The plot still exists, but I'd rather like something to fucking happen now.