Just Finished Reading: Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton.
On her return from a routine resurrection vampire hunter Anita Blake receives an unexpected phone call. Her mentor and sometimes fellow monster hunter Edward needs her help. Something is slaughtering its way across New Mexico and Edward wants it stopped in the only way he and Anita know how – hunt it and kill it. But as soon as Anita arrives complication is piled upon complication and death in its many forms is never far away.
This is the ninth book in the Anita Blake, vampire hunter series and by far the longest at just under 600 pages. Despite ‘knowing’ Anita and her world fairly well by now Laurell Hamilton still manages to keep things interesting despite a few annoying literary habits. In this volume we find out a bit more about the enigmatic Edward and the story throws out a few more hints of the wider world they live in. Broadly similar to our own – indeed for several volumes I thought it was our ‘reality’ – the world Anita inhabits is full of vampires, werewolves, witches and much else. It is a world that has come to terms with its long association with the supernatural to the extent that it is a fully integrated part of the culture complete with its own history, mythology and politics. That alone would make her books interesting.
But what I really like about this series of books is the character of Anita herself. Inevitably reminiscent of Buffy, Anita is a diminutive attractive woman with a troubled love life (having both a vampire and a werewolf as her lovers) and a nagging worry about both her soul and her sanity. Her character is complex enough to make her real yet not too fabricated for the reader to lose interest. You find yourself sharing her pain as she goes about her job riding the world of monsters while hoping she doesn’t become one in the process.
Although classified as Horror I would personally call this type of book Action Fantasy. There are certainly horrific elements in most of this series so far – the scene in the hospital nursery comes to mind in this book – but unlike most horror books I’ve read (which actually don’t amount to that many) the horror elements in Hamilton’s books are not their purely to frighten or disturb. They are there to show the reader the level of evil Anita is attempting to vanquish. Hamilton does have an irritating habit of introducing too much sadism and far too much sadistic sex into her novels but if you can skim over that (as I tend to do) you’ll find her novels to be sure fire page turning entertainment.