Janet Morris's Reviews > Obsidian Butterfly

Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton
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Oh, I thought for a little while that this book would rate five stars. Even though it had way too many editing blunders, I thought it was a really strong story.

My love for it waned, though, when I began to realize that once again the series was going to have a book with too much action. This time seemed it seemed like there were at least 3 distinct plots, not sub-plots because of their extensive nature. A lot of new characters were introduced, possibly too many since this story is taking place outside of St. Louis. Many of the characters seemed like they would be unimportant to the future of the series, so it didn't make sense why so much attention was given to them. Another issue I had was that this book featured yet another round of "will she or won't she" be raped. I think there were 2 times when it seemed like it was going to happen, but it didn't. Instead, the book featured something even more disturbing--a vivid description of a child being molested and a description of another child being tortured. These two acts would have been enough to make me drop from 5 stars to 2. I also was not a big fan of the ongoing tension of Anita being around a serial rapist/murderer who enjoyed torturing people who happened to fit Anita's physical characteristics.

At this point in the series, I have noticed that these books are extremely formulaic. There is the repeated information from previous books (including parts lifted verbatim from past novels), Anita thinking that she's being underestimated because she's different (a woman, a freak, a zombie queen, a civilian, a supposed witch, a short person, etc.), a scene involving some sort of mental or physical torture by someone, Anita's repeated statements of being a Christian or having some moral high ground compared to others around the time that she commits or describes some horrifying act of violence, a bigot (usually from the police force) chastising Anita with Anita being immature in response, the rape of a minor character or several threats of rape to Anita, and then the revelation of the villain of the piece, who is usually a character that has been introduced fairly early and seems to be (at first) a benign character. This repeated template for the books reminds me a lot of the old episodes of Matlock, where 52 minutes into the episode, the murderer would be on the stand. It also reminds me of how on Law & Order, you meet the perpetrator at around the 15 minute mark, but the detectives don't get a clue that that's the person until 28-30 minutes in. This nature makes the books more boring than they should be.

There was a true excess of violence in these books. As violent as the novels typically are, there was an extremely grotesque nature that encompassed this book. Many descriptions were so disturbing that they made me cringe or even get nauseous. I'm not opposed to gory details when it is necessary, but the constant use of them in this book was just too much.

The major strength that the book carried was the exploration of Edward's real life, though some of the humanization that took place dampens his great mystique. It also makes Anita look like more of a monster than he is, as he seems to have a thread in him that allows him to love and care for people. I worry a little bit that Anita finding out about Edward's life might eventually ruin their odd friendship.

I am glad that it appears that Anita is realizing that she is truly bound to Richard and Jean-Claude. She seemed to want it to just be there in case of emergencies instead of coming to terms with the fact that is now a part of who she is and who they are.
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05/02/2011 page 23
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