The descriptions of Larissa learning DANCE MAGIC linger over the curves of her body, despite these scenes supposedly being about the empowerment of women by women. Worse still is the flashback where Raoul recalls first meeting Larissa: Raoul watches her dance, “performing solely for her own pleasure”; she looks like “a feather caught by a wanton breeze”; he thinks of her as “fey and wild.” You know why this flashback is gross? Raoul is appraising her beauty and at this point she is TWELVE. TWELVE YEARS OLD AND HE IS WATCHING HER THINKING YEAH KIND OF A HOTTIE. Thanks for getting all pedo on us, Golden.
Oh, Raoul is also thinking what a good investment she is because he's just won Larissa in a card game against her father, I shit you not.
While it started off with surprising (albeit minor league) promise, Dance of the Dead quickly spirals into the land of schlock as soon as Larissa's tutelage in the art of DANCE MAGIC happens. The chapters in which the Maiden instructs Larissa are bad enough, but things get even worse when she's sent to the mansion of of Anton Misroi (Souragne's zombie-master Dark Lord) where she learns the DANCE OF THE DEAD! Of course, as the Maiden did earlier, Misroi makes Larissa put on a clothes that give him a better view of her tits; “It was shockingly low-cut,” the narration intimates. She must have some rack on her—everybody in the novel wants a peek at it.
Gosh! As a parting gift, Misroi gives her a riding crop; Larissa discovers that to initiate the Dance of the Dead she has to flog herself with it. Kinky.
On the way back to the Maiden's home, Larissa rides something called a LEZerd. I'm just going to leave that tidbit here and let you mull it over on your own.
At this point in the novel we're treated to some pretty squicky animal torture by its antagonists. Larissa leads a really unspectacular siege against the showboat to free all the animals within. Guess what? She does the DANCE OF DEATH at the climax! That didn't seem like a plot point at all when Misroi taught it to her, right? Unfortunately, Larissa accidentally kills her new will o' the wisp-lite boyfriend with the DANCE OF THE DEAD. Ooops.
In the end, the crew of the magic showboat decides that Larissa should be their new captain since Raoul & co. are now dead. Yeah, I can see how being good at dancing makes one a suitable captain of a ship despite not having a whit of sailing or navigation experience. But, as the saying goes, the show must go on. Thankfully, the novel does not.