It’s The Dancing Crow‘s birthday (and mine but this is more important)! I adore this book, and while it doesn’t have the typical romance I blend with my paranormal/urban fantasy stuff, it is just as valid as any of my other works. It sets up important relationship dynamics for the characters in the sequel, Huntsmaster City, which is when the ships come through. I want to emphasize that I couldn’t have the ships that I do, which show up in Huntsmaster, without what is set up in this book. We need to know why Cecelia is acting the way she is, and why she is utterly hellbent on attacking Ares (yet can’t seem to bring herself to kill him).
This novel did not exist until after the sequel to Red Viper, which is the sequel to this book as well. People will really get a different feel and flavor with this book, because while some events are mirrored, there’s not many instances of that. Sure, it’s present in the final battle, but Sam & Ares aren’t together all that much, and I wanted to share what Ares was up to during the apocalypse. He was actually just a side character in Red Viper before gaining a perspective in the sequel as a main character. I didn’t realize how much I’d connect with him until I wrote him more.
I started exploring the personality of Ares more and realized I just…really liked him, as a character. It was so much fun writing this tough guy gang leader who goes out of his way to make people laugh. From the get-go, he had very strong morals, though somewhat rigid views within that. It takes a long time for people to change in his eyes, meaning that he will make mistakes due to this flaw. Unfortunately, in that, he is also very gullible and trusting. If he sees someone in need that clearly isn’t in the right mind, he will try to help them, and he gets hurt because of this.
Ares doesn’t like seeing those he cares about sad. This is demonstrated with how he handles Clarice in the beginning of the story, after she is assaulted beyond the contract of her sex work. He takes her in and together, they start a gang who evolve into protecting the city. He sees Clarice as a sister, and relies on her heavily for a lot of things. As for Clarice, who is a D&D dungeon master, she will be a main character in an upcoming novel regarding a journey to a hidden city of dragons. There’s a few other things on the table for me to write first, however.
Ares’s famous nickname, “The Dancing Crow”, exists because he likes to shapeshift into a crow and dance around to make someone smile when they are feeling down or need a distraction.
Cecelia is quite the anomaly. It’s no secret that she has heavy mental trauma from her past that is affecting her actions. Then, the one thing she is set on hunting… is actually nice to her. She also witnesses several instances of Ares rescuing people from sexual assault, marking him as a really good person in her eyes. Problem is, she’s brainwashed in the story to see all vampires as evil. This is a struggle seen on the regular, and I hope people don’t hate her too much by the end of book 2. The point of her character is to show just how damaging such trauma can be.
Vampires aren’t the only humanoid monsters we deal with in my series, but I take the most pride in my living vampires. They have modified saliva & venom to hunt their prey, which I took inspiration from various animals for. They also have similar gut bacteria to vampire bats, and they are very alive. In fact, their metabolism is higher than humans, meaning their body temperature is too (their proteins have adaptations for this). I go into detail on the lore section I linked there even more, however.
What are readers saying about The Dancing Crow?
However, the feedback for The Dancing Crow was not always positive.
Not that a 3-star review is horrible, and there were many positive things there too. However, this does show that some see flaws in the story, which is entirely understandable. I won’t get into why I disagree with several points on here, but I will say that I questioned another reader about proofreading errors and was told they couldn’t identify what this was talking about. My guess is Ares’s speech pattern not being formal might have led to thinking there were errors, as otherwise I fine-tuned this work very well.
Books will get mixed reviews, always, which is important to remember. It’s why I wanted to show a review that really brought me down at one point, but no longer bothers me. Double whammy given this is from a book blogger, however, again–this proves my point that the book will not be for everyone, and people will have their opinions which are entirely valid too. This so-so review was an important thing for me to learn that, and I appreciate the care they took in pointing out the aspects they disliked.
What do you think, Des?
I stand by saying The Dancing Crow is a bit better than Red Viper, though the other version starring Sam & Darcia is also an excellent work according to my readers. I favor this work, however, given I grew as a writer prior to writing this, whereas Red Viper was still testing the waters. I think I developed Ares, Clarice, and Cecelia very well, whereas I wish I added a bit more for Maya, Dan, and Snow. I think I might re-read The Dancing Crow to reacquaint myself with those characters, then have them show up in my future books at some point.
Ares has become one of my main “original characters”, to the point were I’ve made him in several games and rolled him on Dungeons & Dragons. There is something about him that really appeals to me, and I can get into character so well with him. He’s a big, adorable goof with a violence streak, but my adorable goof. I also wasn’t afraid to show him crying at various points where he shows up in my books, because it’s important for men to explore their emotions as well.
The Dancing Crow got a reception that was more mixed than Red Viper, but it is more violent and absent of romance (given it is leading up to romance in its sequel). Though it didn’t do as well as I wished in its first year, the readers seem to really enjoy the book, and I’m hoping my promotions this coming year will bring it more love. I really think I brought the bite back to vampires with my book!
Happy Birthday Ares!