Customer Reviews: Obsidian Butterfly (An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 9)
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Showing 1-10 of 32 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on October 23, 2000
I have followed this series, in spite of inherent problems within it (such as it being gratuitous and self-indulgent), because of the fertility of LK Hamilton's imagination. But she went quite too far for me in this book. It was badly written and edited. Her overusage of the 'emptiness' in the main characters' decription was far too 'empty' of meaning for me. And the ridiculousness of zombies zooming past quite victim-ready people to zing straight into a nursery at a hospital, several floors away from their starting point (apparently just to show how bad they were), was enough to inspire contempt. The main character and her cohorts are supposed to be big and bad, and so are their opponents, but please not at the expense of what makes sense. And L K Hamilton's insistence on continuing rape-like scenes, vampire or monster floor shows, etc has shown herself to be in a rather grotesque creative rut. I do not think I shall be reading other books in this series, or any other of hers.
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on May 18, 2008
So, the title says it. I'm done with Laurell Hamilton. Honestly, I did not even finish this book. I stopped with about 100 pages left. I'm sick of the author's fixation on sexual assault. In most of the books she's either had someone get raped, or attempted to be, or put in a porn film against their will. I was well aware that there was some sexually explicit content in these books, but there has been to this point, so little actual consensual sex. So I'm finished.

Other gripes about the book: the werewolf politics yet again. "You came in to my territory without paying me tribute" *snoooooze*

As a medical professional: When Anita was injured in the hospital and hurt, they said her blood pressure was 60/80. Not possible. The numbers can potentially be equal, but the second number cannot be higher than the first. Maybe I'm just nitpicking here, but that's how it goes.

Also irked by one of her lines when Anita was referencing women's weight: "Anything under size 5 isn't a woman, it's a boy with breasts"
Wow. Pretty insulting to your female readers who happen to be petite. Just like,oh your own main character endlessly is described as being so. That's a very catty line and I found it very insulting.

So enough Hamilton for me.I'd rather read an author with either less sex or more HEALTHY sex than this endless victimization of her characters. I'm just glad that this book was borrowed and I've never paid a dime for one of Hamilton's novels.
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VINE VOICEon October 15, 2012
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. 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.

Brought to you by:
*C.S. Light*
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on March 18, 2001
this book makes you wonder about the mental state of the writer, read all the bad revies of this book and you will get the picture. it drifts endlessly for the first half of the book then degrades into a... something worse. the author uses images of phisical and sexual abuse on children, flayed bodiess, bodies ripped to peices, lots and lots of blood, twisted rituals and psycopathic alies, just to name a few, to bludgen a sence of danger and fear into you which she reminds you constantly of by telling you how dangerous everyone is because the heros (using the term loosely) are almost as willing to kill each other as capture the bad guy and in the end 75% of the gore and abuse and endless naratives on the dangerous and cold characters has absolutely no meaning what so ever. this isnt a mystery because there is nothing for you to figure out by the clues it is simply an exercise in how grose you can make a book and still sell it at you local mall bookstore.
Young Suk
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on July 19, 2000
I am a big fan of Edward, and was delighted when I learned the book was going to be about him. Much to my irritation the "mine's bigger than your's" confrontations start off in the first chapter. I know the main characters of books are supposed to have conflicts, but this is ridiculous. It's so highschool.
Ms. Hamilton can do better. This is one of her worst books.
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on January 12, 2000
Is Hamilton grasping here, or is it just me? How many pages can we spend talking about each article of clothing Anita wears, each weapon she puts on...and if I hear about her Nikes one more time, I'll hurl the book across the room.
Anita is turning into something I never wanted to see, someone that is too perfect. She's a "Mary Sue": every man wants her, every woman envys her, she's strong, she's pretty, she saves the day. Edward--I just didn't like him in this book. The whole plot with Donna was ridiculous.
And can we say sloppy editing? On one page, Anita's Uncle Otto is from Hapsburg, while on the next, he's from Hamburg. Let's make up our minds and read the galley's before we go to final print, hmm?
I don't know why this book was printed in hardcover; it's getting a treatment it doesn't deserve. Earlier books were better; this one disappoints.
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on January 16, 2007
Obsidian Butterfly is the ninth book in a series which follows the ups and downs of a private eye in a version of our world populated with werewolves and vampires. Obsidian Butterfly is simply bad, very bad on many levels. If Anne Rice and James Elroy had a child, and the child were a 13-year-old girl who didn't like to read but wrote a novel anyway, the result might be something like Laurel Hamilton's book.

Foremost to me was the ignorance, disrespect and abuse the author shows for language. Let me say it most clearly: a professional writer who uses words incorrectly is stupid, sloppy and lazy. Not or. And. An editor who allows such sloppiness to slide by simply isn't an editor.

One example: in a brief bit of self-congratulation Anita prides herself on her ability to prefabricate. Clearly the author was looking for fabricate or prevaricate. But prefabricate just does not mean fabricate, prevaricate or lie.

Another example: the folksy Ted persona of Edward describes a particularly hot day as a barnburner. As any dictionary will show, barnburner does not mean hot day. It means great spectacle. The folksy people who use the word know that. Authors who throw it in for folksy charm should know it as well. Editors should know it -- it's in the dictionary for God's sake.

Her next crime is the kidnapping of the word preternatural. I think I understand the literary device that she is attempting to use, that is, preternatural is shorthand for all of the things that exist in Anita's world, that do not exist in ours: vampires, shape-shifters, zombies etc. Thus we have the FBI special unit for preternatural crimes, Anita's expertise on the preternatural, etc. But even though I understand the literary device she's trying to use, I think it stinks. Preternatural is not the same as supernatural, nor is it an arcane or archaic version of the word.

A preternatural ability is an ability greater than that occurring in nature. A supernatural ability is an ability that exists outside of nature. One can be preternaturally strong, fast, clever or prescient. One cannot be preternaturally invisible, immortal or telepathic. Hamilton's co-opting of this word, shows either ignorance of or apathy to its meaning. Further one is left to wonder if the word supernatural exists in her world, and if so, to what it might refer?

Jargon. The author is a believer in the use of jargon to give the ring of authenticity. To that end about a dozen times we are treated to characters being told to put up their guns, rather than to put them down or away. Real cops and bad guys may speak that way; I don't know. The problem is that the mix-in of jargon did not match the rest of the speech, and made much of the dialog sound phony. Further, since both the bad and good guys use the same jargon, you need to count off odd or even to know who is speaking.

In his excellent book On Writing Stephen King, quoting Amy Tan, laments that interviewers never ask the so-called `popular' writers such as King and Tan about language. Such questions are reserved for the John Updikes and T.C. Boyles of the world. Upon reading Obsidian Butterfly I think I can offer an explanation as to why. According to the back cover copy, Obsidian Butterfly as well as many others in the series, were New York Times bestsellers. Given that, it might be tempting for one who has read neither Laurell K. Hamilton nor Stephen King to regrettably group them together.
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on May 14, 2000
Laurell K. Hamilton is a hugely talented author. Her books have broken new ground in fantasy. She merges the old PI/detective style with an extremely well constructed universe that includes werewolves, vampires, witches, and an assortment of formerly "oh its only just fantasy" characters. This new recipe makes magic delightfully real, occasionally funny, and always exciting. She has used her universe to explore different genres of writing - from the aforementioned PI/dective novel to gothic romance. Unfortunately, with her latest book, she has lost her sense of fun. In Obsidian Butterfly, perhaps she was trying to merge the psychological thriller genre into her recipe. Nice try. Doesn't work. The wry sense of humor present in the characters is not there in the way it has been in the past. The characters take themselves much too seriously. This book tries to do too much. Where has all of the fun gone Ms. Hamilton?
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on October 15, 2001
This was my first Hamilton book. I couldn't get past the first 100 pages. It is really poor. Some of the similarly rated reviews will give you a better idea - I don't want to waste any more time with this book.
I'm not a diehard vampire fan, but I've read some Rice books and others, this has to be one of the worst I've seen. The plethora of mystical/fantasy stuff is so omnipresent that it takes away from the fun and mystery of it all. There is a lot of filler too - this author seems to have trouble quickly moving the plot along. I got tired of repetitive descriptions of Edward's "dead eyes" and boy, watch out for that killer description of sopapillas and sage honey. Lord have mercy.
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on November 21, 2009
I have been following this series faithfully, and I will read the next book, but if it is not better edited, that will be the last one. LKH, there was plenty of book here - no need to repeat the (warning: possible spoilers coming) Anita-taunts-Otto-and-then-(gasp)-apologizes scene three (three!) times. The fake-sex-on-stage scenes are tooooooo long. And then there are the missing parts of the story, e.g., did the rookie cop sacrifice himself by heroically starting the fire in the zombie-infected hospital room or was it accidental? Also, Anita promised to take care of the tragic monster created by Baco, but then she apparently forgets about it. Disorganized, repetitive - I'm glad I got this from the library and didn't pay money for this poor work. Edit, edit, edit!
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