Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Obsidian Butterfly

Posted July 28, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Obsidian Butterfly

Obsidian Butterfly


Laurell K. Hamilton

erotic romance, urban fantasy that was published by Jove on September 24, 2002 and has 596 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Hit List, Bloody Bones, Killing Dance, Burnt Offerings, Narcissus in Chains, Bite, Incubus Dreams, Micah, Danse Macabre, The Harlequin, Blood Noir, Skin Trade, Flirt, Bullet, Never After, Kiss the Dead, The First Death, Affliction, Guilty Pleasures, The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned, "Shutdown", A Kiss of Shadows, Lunatic Café, A Caress of Twilight, Seduced by Moonlight, A Stroke of Midnight, Mistral’s Kiss, A Lick of Frost, Blue Moon, Dead Ice, Jason, Crimson Death

Ninth in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter horror/urban fantasy series and revolving around Anita, a necromancer and totally conflicted woman. It’s been six months since Blue Moon, 8.

My Take

I love it! Anita may be worried about what’s so horrible that Edward needs her help, and on the other hand, she’s such a girl! She can’t wait to see where Edward lives. What kind of house he has. How he decorates it, LOL. I gotta confess, I’m a girl, and I can’t wait to find out either!

It’s our window into Ted/Edward. Hamilton sets it up beautifully with Ted knowing he’ll have to explain his relationship with Donna, that he’ll have to talk about emotions and his reasons. A man’s ultimate nightmare, LOL.

It’s such a twist Hamilton has created for these two characters. They’re friends. Edward’s a sociopath who lives/loves to kill—he once turned down a contract on Anita and flew out to be her bodyguard instead ’cause he’d get a chance to do more killing if he protected her. Anita, on the other hand, is a good Episcopalian who would rather not kill. And they value each other: Anita’s a shooter and kills easily while Edward gives her the best presents and has her back no matter what. He has his own brand of honor.

His highest compliment is the main, underlying reason Edward invited Anita onto the case. Oh. Boy.

Ooh, boy. A fiancée. With kids. Anita’s furious, and she pisses me off. Again. I can understand her initial anger, but really, what business is it of hers? It’s not like she has a pure love life. Although, hers includes more adult cannon fodder. I do enjoy the jealousy Donna exhibits, if she only knew. The other funny bit is the conflict between Edward and Ted. You’ll enjoy watching the effect Donna and her kids have on him. Although, it’ll kill ya to hear how she lost her husband and what Peter had to do. Anita certainly gives her what for later on!

Donna’s reactions to Anita are pretty funny too. Y’all know how independent and un-girly Anita is, and it confounds Donna no end.

“‘I’ve got luggage,’ I said.

‘See,’ Donna said, tugging on his arm.

‘The carry-on bag wouldn’t hold all the guns.'”

Hamilton knows how to keep the tension up, ’cause Ted would dearly love to hunt Anita. See who was better. Meantime, he’s got Becca to pick up from dance lessons…and working an archeology dig with the family. Edward??

I do like Anita pointing out that old-time religious habit of Bible-skimming:
“Judge not lest ye be judged yourself. Or do you skip that part and just keep the parts you like.”

Hoo. Hamilton knows how to create some fascinating characters. Ya gotta admit that Richard, Jean-Claude, and Edward are memorable. Then she adds Olaf and Bernardo to the mix. Two wildly different characters working in the same field. Sorta. Then there’s Anita. Truly unique. Bad ass. Feared. Beautiful and petite, although she doesn’t let that hold her back. Nor does she believe she’s pretty. I love that she’s okay with being wrong, that she doesn’t have to be a know-it-all, and her practical approach to teasing. It always confounds people, LOL. Then again, she can be such an idiot with her rigid self-righteousness.

“You kick a man in the face, and that’s not seriously pissed off.”

How has Marks risen to his position? With beliefs and the attitude he has, I can’t believe he actually manages to solve crimes. “Saving a soul is more important than solving crime”? I do love Anita’s small bit of revenge, LOL. What an ass.

Nice bit of family background history on Anita.

I do like Hamilton/Anita’s observation about Bernardo’s flirtatious approach:

“…if the man has done it a thousand times before, to a lot of different women. Which always seems to imply that I am no different from all the rest.”

That first scene at the club demonstrates how far Anita has fallen away from her earlier black-and-white approach to life.

Jesus, Obsidian Butterfly scares me to death. The way she treats her people, and yet the gift she gives Anita, even if it is to benefit her in the long run. A terrifying contrast. It’ll be interesting to see if she and Anita cross paths in future. Funnily enough, Olaf scares me much more.

Oh, yuck. Where ever did Obsidian Butterfly get her idea of how someone worships? Or did she simply discover how repugnant it would be for most men, and she settled into this as the ideal process? The scenes certainly do provide an interesting insight into some aspects of Aztec culture. Even more yuck is what the Red Woman Husband and his cohorts dress in…ick…

Oh, lordy, Anita just can’t help with the snark. And there are some good ones in this. Between Marks and Olaf, Anita has lots of fun.

Olaf has more scruples than Bernardo?? I sure wish Edward had been more secure in himself. All this testing he does…I wanna shoot him!

What Leonora says to Anita makes so much sense. And it’s a great way to push Anita back on track.

It’s that revelation Edward has that sets Anita to thinking, considering her own men.

The Story

Anita owes Edward a favor after events in The Killing Dance, so when Edward calls, she’s both suspicious and excited.

What could be so bad that Death needs her help?

The Characters

Anita Blake, necromancer, lupa of the Thronnos Roke clan, Nimir-Ra, human servant, apprentice witch…hmm…makes me understand why Edward calls her a generalist. Josh is her young half-brother; her dad is a veterinarian. Ronnie Sims, a private detective, is her best friend, and she’s got a hot romance going with Dr. Louie Fane, a wererat and Richard’s best friend. Catherine Maison-Gillette, another friend, has been married to Bob for two years now.

Edward is a hit man who’s not worried about the ethics or legalities—an equal opportunity killer, and he specializes in vampires, shapeshifters, and anything else that’s a monster. They’re more of a challenge, y’see. Ted Forrester is his alter ego. The legit one, the good ol’ boy, who gets on well with cops. He’s a bounty hunter who specializes in the preternatural. Death is what the vampires call him. Seems he had another name among the black ops boys: Undertaker. He was trained by someone named Van Cleef.

Donna Parnell is Ted’s fiancée(!), and she runs a metaphysical shop. Becca is her little girl; Peter is a very unhappy young man. They have two dogs: Peeka and Boo. I keep imagining the dread Death running around the neighborhood calling for Peeka, Boo…snicker…

Otto Jeffries is a retired government worker whose work is too classified to be available. Olaf, however, is a serial rapist who likes to bathe in blood. Anita fits his victim profile. Bernardo Spotted-Horse is a gorgeous Native American with several humongous assets who works as a bounty hunter and bodyguard. Both are Edward’s backups.

Albuquerque PD
Chief Appleton is having the scene held for Anita. Lieutenant Marks is the bigoted officer in charge. Officers Norton, Rigby, Jarman, and Jakes have their doubts about Anita. Detective Hernando Ramirez is such a flirt, although he loses any chance he has with that lapse. Special Agent Bradley Bradford (Bloody Bones, 5) is feeling bad for what he may have exposed Anita to. Special Agent Franklin is feeling skeptical of Anita’s value.

Ben is a nurse at the hospital where the survivors were taken. Doctor Evans, a forensic pathologist, is in charge and has a wife who’s a witch, Leonora. Dr. Cunningham is Anita’s frustrated doctor.

The Bromwell parents are two of those in the hospital; their son, Thad, hasn’t been found yet.

The Obsidian Butterfly is…
…a club in Albuquerque. Itzpapalotl (the sacrificial knife), a.k.a., Obsidian Butterfly, is the vampire goddess Master of the City. Four “priestesses” attend her, moving, literally, as one. César is one of the performers who prefers the twice-a-month sacrifice act to worshipping a god as Seth demonstrates. Pinotl is the high priest and Obsidian Butterfly’s human servant. Diego is one of her conquistador vampire prisoners, and he’d rather be whipped than “feed as a god”. Cristobal is the last remaining one, although he’s kept on a leash. Chualtalocal is another vampire, one who knows how to worship properly. Professor Dallas is the area’s leading expert in Aztec history and culture.

Los Lobos
Nicandro Baco is a necromancer and the Los Lobos Pack’s vargamor, the pack witch; Paulina is his wife. Roland Sanchez is the alpha. Harpo. Monstruo is too much like the monster Anita first encountered in Laughing Corpse, 2.

Riker is a pot hunter. Harold, Russell, Newt, Maury, and Amanda are some of the bad guys. Tom and Benny are still in the hospital. The really bad guys are Muscle Man (Mickey), Glasses (Rooster), Simon, Deuce, Blade, Shooter, Antonio, and Bandit. Alario is Riker’s resident expert on the supernatural.

The Red Woman was another name for blood, life, amongst the Aztecs. The Red Woman’s Husband is the body that holds the blood, and he intends to be revenged on the conquistadors. His human servant, Tlaloci, uses Husband’s power to call the skin from people’s bodies. The Quetzalcoatl Draconus Giganticus is his animal to call.

Father Simon McCoupen is a demonologist.

Animator’s Inc. is…
…the company Anita works for. Jamison is a fellow animator. A majority of the corpses Anita raise are for legal purposes, and a “corpse had to be of ‘sound’ mind to sign a legally binding signature”.

Trollhunds are best for tracking preternatural bad guys. Gerald Mallory is the grandfather(?), godfather(?) of the vampire executioners, and he got the law changed to make knives legal for them.

The Cover and Title

Interesting cover — a blue cast colors the nude back of a woman with a huge butterfly tattoo spanning her upper back from shoulder to shoulder with the shadow of a grid overlaid.

The title is frenemy and lesson all wrapped up in one: Obsidian Butterfly.