Obsidian Butterfly  - Laurell K. Hamilton Obsidian Butterfly: A Review in Two Parts

Anita Blake returns home to a phone call from Edward. He's calling in a favor and needs her to come to Albuquerque, NM to assist him in a job. She goes to find that there have been several gruesome murders, the victims left horribly maimed. Who is performing these crimes and how far will Anita go to stop them?

NOTE: I have VERY DIVISIVE feelings about this book. Therefore, I have split this review into two parts. One part will probably appeal to those who are big Anita Blake fans; the other is VERY VOCAL about how certain parts of the book made me feel.


Up to this point, the series had become rather beleaguered with Anita Blake's increasingly complicated love life. Does she love Jean-Claude or Richard? How does she balance both in addition to her growing powers and her place as lukoi? And what about her increasingly dark turn, embracing dark magics and torture? How does she reconcile this with her Christian and moral upbringing?

While these questions are very good, Anita needed some space to work them out. Hence this book. It was a great way for Anita to get some distance, look at things with a new perspective and realize some important lessons such as:

+ Just because Ronnie is dating a slightly boring guy, doesn't mean that Anita can't make an effort to remain friends.

+ Catherine may be married, but she is still Anita's friend.

+ Anita can't keep holding back her abilities and powers.

+ Anita isn't being fair to the Triumvirate and deserves to muddle through her complicated love life.

The actual mystery and investigation is very interesting. I thought LKH brought some interesting Southern flavor to the novel, setting it in Albuquerque. I liked Anita meeting another necromancer, a vampire who thought she was a goddess, and learning more about Edward (such as that he CAN love and maintain a reasonably "bad @$$" lifestyle). I liked seeing Anita investigate the murders, ask questions, dig deeper. Sure, the mystery isn't the most brilliant or original I've ever seen, but at least, for once, Anita is investigating these crazy events instead of talking with people who drop convenient plot points.

If this were the only part I was reviewing, I would easily give this book a 3.5 stars. It brings up some interesting conflicts, new sides to old characters, and mixes up our surroundings so things don't get too boring.


I cannot believe how misogynistic and disgusting this series has become. I thought I could hold back the floodgates until "Narcissus in Chains", the one I hear is the beginning of the end of the Anita Blake series, but I can't. This book is absolute dreck.

Why? What makes this book worse than all the previous 8 books? It's not that hard: I'll break it down to my two points.

1) Misogyny. I had noticed since about "Burnt Offerings" that these books seemed to showcase a more and more hostile view of women. Well, this book easily surpasses them all. Anita's (and I almost wonder if the author's) hate for women drips from nearly every single page in the book. Comments like:

"'She's direct even for a man," Edward said. 'For a woman, she's like a battering ram.'"


"'You would have made a good man.' I took the compliment because that's what it was."


"She also knew how to shake hands. Most women never really got the knack of it."

are insulting and demeaning.

Making broad statements like "women are naturally friendly" or that all women have large purses and pack a bajillion suitcases full of crap is small-minded and foul. Letting 14 year old impressionable boys get away with misogynistic statements just keeps the cycle repeating. Starting fights with cops over who's balls are bigger and then letting a man say rude, misogynistic remarks without a peep just proves that Anita doesn't have her priorities straight and is nothing like the "strong, independent woman" she purports to be.

Every woman not named "Anita Blake" is a delicate, easily broken flower: the nurse who is "too fragile" to answer questions Anita might have about who is dead and who is alive, a "dwarf" woman who is brutally murdered, a young scientists named Dallas and Edward's fiancee, Donna.

"That Dallas was oblivious to [Olaf staring at her] made me worry about her just a little...her survival instincts just weren't up to it."

"'She's a wimp,' [Peter] said. I agreed with him but not out loud." [May I just add, this is a SON talking about HIS MOTHER.]

"If Edward showed Peter this little corner of hell and word got back to Donna, it might be enough to break them up permanently. I was willing to trade some of Peter's innocence for that."

Speaking of Donna, I don't think I've ever seen a character so badly villified. From the moment Anita lays eyes on her, she is undermining the woman, demeaning her, and treating her like filth.

+ Anita is critical about Donna's age, calling her in her early thirties and going up to her forties.

+ Anita insults how Donna "makes out" with her fiancee in the car, in a gesture to make "Anita jealous".

+ Anita immediately sides with Peter, Donna's bratty 14 year old son, in front of his mother.

+ Donna is unable to defend herself and Peter, at 8, is forced to wield a weapon.

+ When Donna and her children have been threatened, Donna breaks down into hysterics. Instead of tending to her children and trying to comfort the woman, Anita does this:

"I got a handful of that short, thick hair and pulled her hair up. It hurt and it was meant to. 'Look at me, you selfish b!tch.'"

+ Anita is ready to sacrifice Peter's innocence to get Donna and Edward to break up:

"If Edward showed Peter this little corner of hell and word got back to Donna, it might be enough to break them up permanently. I was willing to trade some of Peter's innocence for that."

+ Anita withholds information about Peter's rape because "Donna wouldn't be able to handle it":

"He hadn't told [Donna, his mother] about the rape. I didn't betray his secret. First, I wasn't sure she could handle another shock. Second, it wasn't my secret to tell."

And on and on and on. The things Anita does to Donna and the way Anita thinks of Donna is absolutely INSULTING and EMBARRASSING. I'm not saying that women can't hate each other, that they are always "naturally friendly"'; but Anita has ZERO REASON to behave so rudely to Donna. And yet Anita isn't the one portrayed as the b!tch; no, it's DONNA.

And then we have a major scene where a male stripper is sexually harassed. Anita makes the flip comment that if he had been a woman, EVERYONE would have jumped to make sure he wasn't assaulted, but because he's a MALE, people let him be. Leaving Anita as the only one to rescue him.

As if that isn't enough, the number of times rape is brought up is obscene. Edward hires a "bragging rapist" to help him solve the murders; Anita is nearly raped YET AGAIN. Other women are likewise threatened.

TRIGGER WARNING (I honestly canNOT believe I am including a trigger warning in a review about vampires and paranormal creatures): Child rape, child torture.

2) Child rape and torture. At one point in the story, Peter and Becca, Edward's fiancee's children, are kidnapped. Anita and Edward attempt to rescue them. Before they do, they (and the readers) are subjected to a brutal depiction of child rape and torture. A random woman fondles Peter until he experiences his first "Pleasure" and hits him across the face. He screams and protests the entire time. A man holds Becca in his lap and breaks her fingers as she screams.

I respect that LKH wants to make sure that we realize that these kids are in real, serious danger, that they might not come out alive. I even respect her for trying something darker. I understand it's all too easy for people to say that "X" is a bad guy without having that bad guy do anything to prove he is a bad guy.

But honestly, this scene is completely unnecessary, a chill, pornographic thrill, something to make readers gasp in shock and horror. These characters have only appeared in this book; I've heard they don't reappear (ETA: I've been told that Peter does reappear in the series, so perhaps there is some discussion about the trauma he has undergone here). Furthermore, apparently, things like their damaged mental health never needs to be addressed, because Anita sure as hell doesn't mind withholding Peter's rape from his own mother:

"He hadn't told [Donna, his mother] about the rape. I didn't betray his secret. First, I wasn't sure she could handle another shock. Second, it wasn't my secret to tell."

Do things like this happen? Of course, all the time (unfortunately). But did we really need to "go there" in an Anita Blake novel? In my opinion, no. It's a horrible, horrible, cheap, awful way to show that these guys are bad and that Anita Blake needs to hurry up and save the day.

These two main bullets are the reason that this book is rated 1 star. Sure there are other parts of this book I wasn't fond of--the extreme gore that made me regret every meal I ate, Anita's constant aggression to authority, her antisocial personality disorder (seriously, check it out, it's astonishing how many bullet points she can tick off)--but by far the worst, the ones that made me the most mad were the blatant, undisguised misogyny (and no, I'm not talking about misogynistic characters, I'm talking about the whole attitude of the book) and the unnecessary, gratuitous, vile child rape and torture scenes.

If you really like Anita Blake, have always liked Anita Blake, and desperately want more of her and Edward, then go ahead, have a ball with this book. More power to you. But if you are sick and tired of the woman-hating, excessively violent, angry Anita Blake, then you might want to give this a pass--or at least proceed with caution.

NOTE: For those not faint of heart, I recommend taking a look at some of my status updates for the items I forgot to mention, such as the stellar writing ("I laughed. They laughed. A good time had by all."), more examples of how hateful Anita is, and my mind being blown to pieces.