Incubus Dreams continues the adventures of Anita Blake. In this novel, Anita's romantic life undergoes a dramatic upheaval while she simultaneously attempts to assist the police in solving a series of vampire serial murders. As with the other later novels in the series, Incubus Dreams blends elements of supernatural, detective, and erotic fiction.
Incubus Dreams apparently takes place a few weeks after the events of Cerulean Sins. As usual, Anita must juggle several problems simultaneously.
- First, in her job as an animator, Anita must respond to the request of Barbara and Steve Brown that Anita raise their dead son, Stevie Brown, a high school student murdered three years earlier, probably by an acquaintance. Anita explains that it is not possible to raise a murder victim and question them, because that kind of zombie has only one purpose (to kill the murderer), but agrees to assist the police in investigating the murder.
- Second, Anita continues to wrestle with the metaphysical problems raised by her recent increase in power. She, Jean-Claude, Richard, and Damian are all experiencing unexpected increases in their magical power, with unpredictable results.
- Third, Anita continues to assist Jean-Claude with vampire politics, as Jean-Claude confronts a challenge from The Dragon and her offspring, Primo and as Anita and Jean-Claude realize that the vampires in town that follow Malcolm rather than Jean-Claude have not been bound by blood oath, leaving them as essentially unrestrained predators.
- Fourth, Anita's personal life becomes increasingly complex, both as a result of Anita's increasing ardeur and as a result of the personal problems of the various people involved. In particular, Nathaniel has decided that his relationship with Anita should advance to a sexual relationship, Damian continues to struggle with his role as Anita's vampire servant, and Anita's love/hate relationship with Richard remains as powerful as ever. Anita also must deal with jealousy from Jessica Arnett, a RPIT detective with a crush on Nathaniel, and with increasing distrust by various police officers as a result of her close relationship with the city's vampires and shapeshifters and as a result of her increasingly sexually-based abilities.
- Fifth, Anita attempts to assist the police in solving a series of vampire serial killings, apparently focusing on area strip club workers or patrons.
Unlike previous novels, although Anita resolves some of these issues by the end of the book, many remain unresolved.
- With regard to the Stevie Brown murder, although Anita agrees to investigate, she is unable to make progress on the investigation during this novel, and notes in the epilogue that she intends to review Brown's personal effects with Evans soon. (Evans is a very powerful psychometrist).
- With regard to Anita's metaphysical problems, she makes considerable progress. Anita learns that she can partially control the ardeur by drawing power from others' lust and by ensuring that her other desires, such as physical hunger, do not go unfulfilled. Richard realizes that a great deal of his unstable behavior in recent novels is a result of his acquiring Anita's rage through their spiritual link, and Jean-Claude begins to stabilize his own power after Anita gives him permission to feed on the lust of his club patrons.
- Anita also makes progress on resolving the vampire politics issues that arise in this novel. Using her own powers and her link to Jean-Claude, she binds Primo to Jean-Claude's service, and, with her challenge defeated, The Dragon expresses interest in negotiating with Jean-Claude. Anita also accepts Wicked and Truth, two other warrior vampires, into Jean-Claude's service, greatly increasing Jean-Claude's ability to resist physical challenges. However, the issue of Malcolm's vampires remains unresolved, as both Anita and Jean-Claude believe that without a blood oath, some of the vampires of the Church of Eternal Life will eventually revert to predators.
- Anita's personal life also resolves in a number of ways. She accepts Nathaniel as the fourth of her concurrent lovers, and she and Richard also agree to renew their relationship. (Although Nathaniel and Micah appear to accept or want Anita as their only lover, Anita reluctantly agrees to accept Richard's decision to date other people, and allows Jean-Claude to begin feeding his lust from others, at least spiritually). The major unresolved issues in Anita's personal life appear to be her relationship with Damian, who she attempts to offer more independence but who also wants to be one of her lovers, and her role as a law enforcement officer, which is becoming more and more difficult as she continues to identify with the "monsters."
- Anita is unable to resolve the serial killer investigation fully. Although she and the police kill several of the lesser vampires responsible for the murders, the more powerful vampires escape to kill in another city, particularly their leader, Vittorio. Anita promises herself that she will track Vittorio and his remaining followers down.
In the epilogue, Anita explains that she has bought gifts for her various lovers (except for Richard), and that she is committed to continuing her life as a vampire executioner, and to resolving the remaining open plotlines discussed above.
Incubus Dreams takes place in October, the month following Cerulean Sins.
- Incubus Dreams, chapter 01: "It was an October wedding." Note that although the wedding is Halloween-themed, it does not take place on October 31st, but is earlier in the month.
- Incubus Dreams, chapter 03: "It's October, she’s outside wearing five-inch plastic stilettos, an inexpensive wool coat, and not much else."
- Incubus Dreams, chapter 63: "The October night was soft, warmer than last night, but still cool enough to feel like autumn."
- Incubus Dreams, chapter 71: "It was mild for October, and lycanthropes tend to run warm."
- Since previous novels:
- Incubus Dreams, chapter 09: Regarding Nathaniel and Anita: "He’s been in your bed for what, four months?" Four months since Narcissus in Chains.
- Incubus Dreams, chapter 10: "How long have you and Micah been living together?" / "About four months." Four months since Narcissus in Chains.
Other time-related information:
- Anita is 27 years old (inconsistency). Incubus Dreams, chapter 01: "I've only got three years to go until the big 3-0; so far panic has not set in." In Narcissus in Chains, Anita states that she had "turned twenty-six early in the year," and two years earlier (in the first four novels, July-December) she was 24, so she couldn't have already turned 27 already. See the inconsistencies section of the Timeline article.
- Nathaniel Graison is 20 years old. Incubus Dreams, chapter 01: "His shoulders had broadened in the last few months, from weight lifting, or just the fact that he was twenty and still filling out." Chapter 09: "I mean he’s only twenty for God’s sake."
- Tammy Reynolds is nearly four months pregnant. Incubus Dreams, chapter 01: "Tammy was three months, almost four months pregnant, and it was Larry’s fault."
- Clair, Richard's new girlfriend, is around 24 or 25. Incubus Dreams, chapter 24: "She looked younger than I’d thought at first, maybe twenty-four, twenty-five, maybe a little younger."
Incubus Dreams features the following major characters.
Recurring characters include:
|Anita Blake Series|
01. Guilty Pleasures • 02. The Laughing Corpse • 03. Circus of the Damned • 04. The Lunatic Cafe • 05. Bloody Bones • 06. The Killing Dance • 07. Burnt Offerings • 08. Blue Moon • 09. Obsidian Butterfly • 10. Narcissus in Chains • 11. Cerulean Sins • 12. Incubus Dreams • 13. Micah • 14. Danse Macabre • 15. The Harlequin • 16. Blood Noir • 17. Skin Trade • 18. Flirt • 19. Bullet • 20. Hit List • 21. Kiss the Dead • 22. Affliction • 23. Jason • 24. Dead Ice • 25. Crimson Death • 26. Serpentine • 27. Sucker Punch (novel) • 28. Rafael
|Short Stories||Magic Like Heat Across My Skin • Blood Upon My Lips • The Girl who was Infatuated with Death • Those Who Seek Forgiveness • Selling Houses • Beauty • Dancing • Shutdown • A Girl, a Goat, and a Zombie • Wounded • Sweet Seduction|
|Comics||The First Death • Guilty Pleasures & Handbook • The Laughing Corpse • Circus of the Damned|