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Anita Blake is no stranger to gruesome deaths - she's been the cause of a few amongst the vampire population of St Louis, earning her the nickname of Executioner - but this time she's away from home and in the realm of an ancient Aztec vampire who may or may not be a goddess. And while she might be able to cope with the sight of brutally dismembered body parts scattered about, it's the survivors that are too much this time: something, some monster, is skinning people alive.
While it's not unusual for the Executioner to be called in on cases like this, this time it's not the police who have made the call. Trusted friend and deadly threat both, it's not like stone cold assassin Edward at all to sound afraid - and the team he's called in as backup aren't exactly the good guys! If she can survive the monsters this time, she'll still have to outlive the men at her back...
For those not familiar with this series of novels, they're set in an urban fantasy of an alternate reality - everything is much like our own world, apart from the fact that vampires, werewolves, witches and such are very real and also out in the open. Yeah, that's a bit like True Blood - but this series came first! Anita herself is a strong female lead, being both an animator (she raises zombies for a living!) and vampire hunter. I'm imagining you might be chuckling right now at the very idea, but the strength of these books is how dark they are and how seriously they treat these fantastical concepts. Really, it's not about fantasy, it's asking: well what if there WERE vampires in the real world?
So far we've followed the tough as nails, no nonsense Anita Blake through eight prior novels. I'm trying hard not to mention something that happens in book nine that spoils any of the previous plot lines! With a total of 20 books in the series so far, I think the big spoiler - that Anita has survived thus far - isn't giving too much away! ;)
Do you have to start at the beginning? Well, I would, yes: there is an on-going plot thread, insofar as it follows this one woman's life and career - albeit a rather outlandish one! As fantastical escapism, I've enjoyed them all and this one to the extent that I've broken my own rule about writing about a book part way through a series - it's just too hard not to give inadvertent spoilers about what goes before in the series - let alone nine books in! However, I put this down and found myself wishing I hadn't finished: I had several enjoyable evenings using this as an excuse to stop early, turn my brain away from the strains of the day, and get utterly engrossed in the kick-ass that is Anita Blake's world! That's worth shouting about :)
I think this volume in particular was fantastic escapism as Anita herself is in need of just that: the previous instalment left her with difficult personal issues, and it's a bit of a relief in the series not to have yet more woes of a preternatural love life!
This may also be the longest volume to date, which is another reason I was a bit surprised to get so caught up: I have nothing against long books but usually I put a read like this into the more 'enjoyable throw away' category, and expect it to be short(er) and sweet - not to pull me in. There are more twists here than previously - or perhaps it's just that taking Anita Blake out of her own familiar surroundings, it's less easy to guess where things might be heading next.
A key character to that is Edward. He's previously been a regular cameo, often of some importance, but a suitably shadowy figure. This time we get to join Anita's shock at seeing more of his true character than ever before. Then there are those oh so deadly guys Edward's called in to help: Anita doesn't know what any of them will be capable of next, so neither does the reader - and not just because we're following a first person narrative.
Aside from that, we're treated to another tale not too dissimilar from the rest of the series, with our heroine in serious danger up to her eyeballs as she tries to be on the other side from the monsters, still fighting her own personal demons about how far she's willing to go. To have me at this point still looking forward to finding downtime to head back to this world is no mean feat!
If you've not tried the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter books, of course I say give them a go! Recommended for fans of True Blood, yes, and also anyone who's enjoyed The Dresden Files - my 'in'. Things are a bit too adult and gory for Twilighters, though - which is for the good! ;) And if you have discovered Ms Blake already, rest assured that book 9 is still keeping me entertained and thoroughly distracted from real life!
Paperback: 585 (story) pages (Orbit Horror 2009)
First published in 2000
After enjoying the previous book in this particular series so much I was eager to get stuck into this book, though after reading the first chapter I was surprised by just how different it is to any of the previous offerings!
The book I will now review is - "Obsidian butterfly by Laurell K Hamilton".
Beware this will contain spoilers for the previous book!
After Richard (Anita's werewolf ex-fiancé and part time lover), is finally cleared of his rape accusations, and they are all able to go home to St Louis, Anita decides enough is enough and puts a hold on her relationship with both Richard and her other lover Jean-Claude, master vampire of the city.
In doing so she has had to pull away from both Richards pack of werewolves and Jean-Claude's vampire servants, and she is astounded by just how much she misses them!
After receiving a call from her arch nemesis and best bounty hunting friend Edward, she decides to help him out on a new case in New Mexico, ore to take her mind off her present situation, but also due to the fact that she inadvertently killed Edwards back up in a previous book, thus meaning she "owed him one!".
After arriving in New Mexico she is amazed to find that her bounty hunter friend, who incidentally is referred to in certain circles (by the supernatural communities), as death due to the fact there is now bounty to big or gruesome for him, is actually holed up with a very normal lady called Donna and her two young children, though he is very quick to explain they are just a cover story it some becomes apparent they are much more!
Anita has been requested due to a very unusual murder case that is being worked on by Edward, or as he is known there Ted!
A group of people have been murdered in there own homes by being ripped completely apart, and when I say completely I mean jointed at every point even down to toes and fingers.
After discovering actually whole bodies the poice are then horrified to find that the "bodies" are not actually deceased people, but people who have been completely skinned and had their sexual parts removed leaving them androgynous to look at, but due to a very powerful spell being cast around them, still very much alive.
This of course is where Anita comes in, being the highest ranked and best known preternatural expert in the country, they are hoping she will be able to discover who or more namely what is doing these loathsome acts.
Will Anita solve the case and bring the person/creature responsible to justice, or is there a higher power involved, one that even Anita will struggle to fight against........
I have to say that after the first couple of chapters I was really struggling to stay with the book, I have read books in the series before that have had to been worked through before I could get into it, but this book bored me quite quickly.
I did appreciate the different angle that was used from the offset, instead of the supernatural monsters being the main focus of the book, the human monsters ie Anita and Edward and all their homicidal tendencies were the focal point.
The murders in this book seemed to take a back bench as far as the book was concerned, with the relationship between Anita and Edward taking up the majority of the storyline, and whilst I am always happy to have a little background information on such characters as Edward, who has featured heavily in many of the previous books without too much information preceding him, I did feel after finishing the book I didn't know much more than before reading it!
There are (for a change anyway!) two new human characters for this particular book, though due to there character flaws only one can be deemed as a "none monster!", this of course adds a very uncomfortable feeling to he story as one of the men has skills that are much needed for this particular case, but also has a conviction for rape, with the murders never being proved and a particular penchant for small, dark haired females.....very much like Anita!
Although none of the previous main characters (aside from the ones mentioned) are in this particular book, there are of course a plethora of other supernatural beings to enjoy such as the powerful dwarf who thinks he is sexually potent to any female around and the vampire goddess Itzpapalotl, who has deemed herself as an actually god, though she does prefer to go by her Aztec name (yes she is that old!), and so is called obsidian butterfly.
Every character seems to have an ulterior motive and each more powerful than the previous!
The writing as always is descriptive and vivid, with the scene, however gruesome it may and inevitably will be, being set in your mind for you.
There is a huge amount of gruesomeness for your delectation but not a great deal of sexual content within this book, I would still deem this as a book for adults though.
This book is available from www.amazon.co.uk for the sum of £5.99 plus P&P.
This is an ok book that if stuck with does get better towards he end, but it is nowhere near the best in the series.
Thanks for reading x
Carrying on with my sudden love of blood drinking and monsters with pointy teeth leads me to read another of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. I've been a bit stupid really as once again I've fallen into the trap of reading the first of a set of a books and then have been unable to find the rest. So I've gone from the first of her novels Guilty Pleasures and skipped the next 7 books, reading the 9th and suddenly being given lots of facts which I didn't want to know.
Obsidian Butterfly is the 9th of the Anita Blake series. This time round though she isn't working as an animator. Somebody who raises zombies for legal reasons. She's been roped in as backup for Edward. A vampire executioner who will go to any extremes to kill his prey.
A supernatural being is roaming around town, stripping men and woman of their skin and other physical parts of their bodies. This is done without the aid of any tool which is why Anita has been called in to help. Whilst the police for some reason still believe this is a human serial killer it is obvious that these murders have a magical element to them.
Edward has been a long term friend of Anita although that doesn't mean if push came to shove he wouldn't put a bullet through her brain. As the same goes for herself. What she doesn't realise is that he has also called two other men in as back up as well. Bernado, a highly attractive built like a brick man, who knows he looks good and Olaf. Much more frightening who hates women and is a known rapist.
As Anita and Edward set about investigating what has happened they encounter werewolves, a fellow animator, vampires, aztec priests and werejaguars. A fine mix of monsters to get your teeth stuck into. A lot more so than in other fantasy books that I have come across.
In this patricular novel we get to learn more about Edwards character. Seeming as there is more to his hard exterior especially when it concerns two children who he has grown attached(?) to. Although to them he is known as Ted, unable to reveal his true identity even to them.
There is a lot of mentioning of Anita's lovelife. It comes to light that she has been having a relationship with a vampire-the ever charming Jean Claude and Richard a shape shifter. Neither of which really appear aside from what appears to be Anitas thoughts. This does get a bit frustrating at times as it is constantly mentioned about how she is stuggling to decide on which one she loves or if she should move on from both of them altogether.
That said this is not a dull or boring book. It is continually moving, never stopping to let you think about what is going on. Towards the end of the book it does get really confusing as there is so many characters it gets difficult on working out who is who. What their powers are and why are they involved.
A lot of this I suppose could be more explained if you have read the previous books and not of skipped them.
This seems to be a classic Laurell K Hamilton style as if I remember rightly I was in the same situation with the first of the series. Another thing which is similar is that the ending has once again disappointed me. Maybe she just struggles with them in all of her offerings. It sort of came to a stop and even then I don't think she really finished it off.
She could be doing this to make us want to go out and buy the next book but I'm not sure if it's working very well as I'm undecided on if I want to go back. The last thing I want out of a story is a same format over and over again.
Overall it is easy to read and not one that I was able to put down for too long without getting fidgety about finding out what's going to happen next. I got mine from the library which is good as I'm unsure as to if it's enjoyable enough to go out and buy. It will cost you just under £2 from Amazon so either way it's good value.
Not for those who are squeemish either as it does involve one hell of a lot of blood and graphic descriptions. Especially concering flesh eating zombies who have a taste for beating human hearts.
He specialized in monsters. Vampires, shape-shifters, anything and everything. There were people like me who did it legal, but Edward didn't sweat the legalities or, hell, the ethics. He was an equal opportunity killer. I may be one of the few friends that Edward has, but it's like being friends with a tame leopard. It may curl on the foot of your bed and let you pet it's head, but it can still eat your throat out....
Obsidian butterfly is Antia Blake (Vampire Hunter,Raiser of the dead and Private Investigator To name just A few of Her talents) Ninth outing in the supernatural world in which she lives.
This particular story revolves around Edward, Anitas friend and tough as nails "Gun For hire" Who calls in a favour of Anita. This is unusual In its self and should warn Anita that nothing is as it seems. However Edward has saved her life more times than she has raised the dead, and lets face it nothing in her line of work is ever what it seems. So she finds her self among the were leopards of Santa Fe, trying to solve grusome murders where the bodies have been flayed then kept alive by magic, battaling with Mayan priests and ultimatley an evil so ancient Maybe even the great Anita Blake faces a foe she cannot over come.
The particular novel marked for me the end of the Mickey Spilane style of writing Laurel Hamilton used when we were first introduced to Anita Blake and to a more sexual undercurrent which I feel seems to dominate most of her later works. In a way it is as if the intro duction of the wereleopards and there overt sexuality signals the writting change. Not that I have a problem with the sexuality it is just that I like a bit of story too.
The obsidain Buterfly is Classic Anita Blake before it all goes a bit "were shaped" lots of tension, strangeness, bluntness and kickass girl power. Just perfect for a bit of light night reading