Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
As you must have noted from the “#9” in the title of this post, Obsidian Butterfly is far from the first in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. I tried to keep this review devoid of spoilers, but there are a few noteable things: first, you’ll know if certain characters are still around — I name-check three of them — secondly, an event in book 7 is referenced in this review. If you haven’t made it that far yet and care about spoilers, then I would suggest not continuing to read. Otherwise, read on.
When I picked up Obsidian Butterfly, the ninth book in Laurell K. Hamilton’s long-running Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get into it. I admit that sounds odd considering I read the eight previous novels and liked them. There were two main reasons for my wary attitude:
All that said, Obsidian Butterfly is one of the best in this series thus far (I haven’t read books 10-19 yet). Interestingly, the two main points of concern are what make this book so good and are needed — together — to drive this series forward. (Note: this book was far from “all porno”.)
Spending time with Edward
Ultra assassin Edward has always been someone to fear. Anita trusts him as much as she can, but his relish for competition and knowing he’d love to find out who is better (read: which would survive if they tried to kill one another) keeps her at arm’s length. It’s a strange situation; Edward has acted in a mentor role for Anita. He’s taught to be a better killer. She owes him a favor for killing his backup (it was a him-or-me situation), so Anita heads to New Mexico to assist on a job.
The nuances of the job — and the seriously grotesque and horrifying nature of the crimes they work to solve — take a backseat to understanding Edward. His cover has been as good ol’ boy Ted Forrester. Anita meets Ted’s finacee and her kids and is livid. Her thoughts are a cover ID can’t get married, and you can’t put kids through that stuff. As much as Edward can flip from light bountyhunter Ted to the cold, calculated Edward, we start to see he cares for this family, as far as someone like Edward can care.
The longer we’re on the case with Edward, the more glimpses we get behind the veil; the more Anita (and the reader) understands her friend of several years.
A Turning Point of Acceptance
Throughout Obsidian Butterfly, Anita starts to recognize how much she’s become like Edward. Friendship or not, you draw a gun on Anita Blake and she’ll likely fire first and won’t hesitate. The realization shakes her. Her motivation for hunting, killing is to save lives, for the greater good. Edward does it for pleasure and money. This has become one of their only differences.
Anita has spent the last six months walling her mind off from Jean Claude and Richard. The power of their triumvirate is great, but having them both in her mind and sharing their thoughts and feelings was too much. She stopped seeing them and pretended she wasn’t Jean Claude’s human servant or Richard’s lupa. Ignoring a part of yourself never ends well. Anita may know that, but she refused to admit the vampire and werewolf were a part of her. A particularly bad injury forced her to accept this fact. She is not only harming herself, but also the guys by fighting their ties.
Obsidian Butterfly is about Anita realizing she must accept who is is: not just an animator and necromancer, but also the third in a triad of power, as the lupa to Richard’s pack, as someone who needs friends to keep from slipping into the hard, coldness she glimpses inside Edward.