Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Butterfly kisses - with a bite!
Obsidian Butterfly - Laurell K. Hamilton
Member Name: calypte
Obsidian Butterfly - Laurell K. Hamilton
Advantages: Excellent escapist fantasy!
Disadvantages: Genre won't appeal to everyone!
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
Summary: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, goes on a busman's holiday!