Obsidian Butterfly
by Laurell K Hamilton, fantasy (2000)
Ace, $7.50, ISBN 0-441-00781-3


I was going to give up on Anita Blake, I must confess. I thought Blue Moon was an all-time low, a discardable The Anita Blake Hour soap opera with some obligatory action and gore thrown in. Jean Claude can take his Ziggy Stardust bisexual rip-off act to Mars, and I know a place where that whiny, irritatingly petulant Richard can stuff his wolf gop. Obsidian Butterfly takes a break from all the messy love life that is Anita Blake's social calender and has her rocking up good ol' Alberqueque, New Mexico with her soul mate Edward.

Edward asks her to repay her favor to him by flying over to New Mexico to investigate a series of gruesome murders. Along the way, Anita realizes that Edward may not be all that tough after all, she gets to go man-on-man with an eventually smitten rapist/serial killer, and she watches a gruesome Aztec vampiric sacrificial ceremony. Lots of beefcake in thongs and skirty thingies provide eye candy, if one don't mind the fact that they howl at the full moon.

And best of all, no whiny Richard.

I'm more for Edward, not as a spouse for Anita, but damn if that man isn't devastatingly sexy in his psychotic tendencies. There are times when Anita and his psychoanalyzing can get tedious, but this time around, I really enjoy the fascinating exchanges between these two. In Obsidian Butterfly, the boundaries between tutor-portégé have blurred. Edward and Anita end up developing a truce, even a friendship. Like Anita quaintly puts it, chances are he will be the last face she'll see before she dies.

I also enjoyed the way the author portrays the increasing battle within Anita - she is losing her conscience to the primal rush of the kill, but damn if she would lose it entirely. Clinging hard to her Christian faith, she waves her gun and blows up heads. Cool or what?

Call me crazy, but I think Anita shouldn't get together with Richard or Jean Claude. In Obsidian Butterfly, she and Edward learned well enough - emotions leave you vulnerable, because the persons you care for are in essence hostages. It is a bitter fact both have to accept. I can't wait to see how the saga would continue from here, for Anita emerges with even more jaded and cynical view about herself, life, and people. Think of her as Daria with a machine gun.

Do I enjoy Obsidian Butterfly? Absolutely. It isn't the best book, and there are some glaring spelling errors and weird punctuations that make me go "Eh?", but it is in a way a fascinating story about reluctant relationships and the struggle between conscience and instincts. I see it also as a new beginning, and hopefully the author would use this book as a platform to clean up the Richard-Jean-Claude mess.

By the way, I think I ought to do my civic duty and warn people that Obsidian Butterfly has graphic violence and gore, some homoerotic overtones, and lots of sick behavior. Fans of that Dr Laura woman should stay away. Leave us happy vicarious sociopaths to our pleasures, I say.

Rating: 89


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