A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Obsidian Butterfly’ chapter eighteen

Edward’s house is full of dead things. And I mean that literally – there are hunting trophies around the place. Illegal hunting trophies, I may add. Anita implies that they are gazelles – and by implied, I mean that she says they look like deer but the horns are too big because Anita can never say what something is if she can give clunky description – and gazelle species are either strictly controlled and mostly you can’t bring those sort of trophies home.

Hunting trophies will not make me warm to Edward. I detest killing things for sport.

Anita asks to look around, which prompts some bitching from Bernardo.

“You didn’t let us look around on our own,” Bernardo said.

“You didn’t ask.”

“It’s one of the joys of being a girl and not a guy,” I said. “If I’m curious, I just ask.”

The hell? That does not match my experience at all. While I have always been encouraged to be curious and inquisitive, women are not usually encouraged to speak out and ask questions, especially in a mixed group. And why are you bitching Bernardo? Edward didn’t say ‘don’t look around’. You can just go and look around yourself. What is wrong with these people?

Plus Edward’s home is full of Navajo items. The Navajo nation do live in parts of New Mexico, but Edward, why do you have to be like ‘cultural appropriation is cool!’.

Anita complains that there are no pictures in the place. You know, when I go to a person’s home, I don’t insult their décor. If I don’t like it, I keep it to my fucking self because I have manners. They talk about how Donna bought flowers to ‘brighten up the place’ and Anita complains that Donna and her family are just ‘hostages’ in this situation.

“Do you really think you’re telling me something I haven’t thought about?”

“My apologies, you’re right. Like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs.”

“What?” He turned and was half-laughing.

Oh, of course no one but the Sue knows the perfectly common phrase. Fun Dottie fact: the phrase became popular as a way to curse people without swearing in my first year of secondary school. No idea why.

I shrugged. “Just an old saying. It means I’m lecturing someone who taught me what I’m lecturing about.”

No, it doesn’t. It means giving advice to someone on a subject they already know about – and know more than you about. ENGLISH. DO YOU SPEAK IT?

Anita says about how Edward taught her that if you care for people, they can die. Not that he gets all the credit. Her mother is mentioned. Again. Because Anita apparently lived in some magical world where death never touched her. Look, it’s bullshit. ‘oh if you care for people they can die waaaah waaahhh’. Who the hell thinks like this as an adult? I think everyone knows, from childhood, that everyone you love will die someday. Some people learn this a bit quicker than others; both my paternal and maternal grandfathers died when I was two, for example, so I was fairly morbid as a child and a bit obsessed with vampires and ghosts. But you just have to get over it. People die. It’s sad and hard and sometimes it’s just so awful to live on in a world where someone who love just isn’t there any more, but what adult actually goes around thinking ‘oh no, people I love will dieeeeeeeee’?

Anita then boasts about how at least her lovers can’t die like Donna can.

What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you so determinedly unpleasant?

I will think of Donna as Donna. It makes me feel better if I think Donna can just unleash full stream bullshit blasting powers on Anita.

Bernardo then walks in, Anita thinks he’s attractive, Edward reprimands him for treating Anita ‘like a girl’. For a start, she’s a woman. Secondly, I don’t like the idea that Anita must get some sort of separate treatment because of her ovaries (I know Edward is smacking him down for it, but I don’t think anyone is going to stop treating her as someone special because of her magical ovaries). Bernardo talks about how Edward calls her so dangerous while they go through to the dining room to look at case files. And… then they talk about killing each other? And how they can hide weapons in their hair? And how Bernardo is a ‘ethnic stereotype’ and that’s good because he’s a rich token Indian? And how he can instantly tell that Anita is Hispanic, because all POC have insta POC detection powers?

“You may be a little dark around the edges, but you can pass for white,” Bernardo said.

“I’m not passing, Bernardo. I am white. My mother just happened to be Mexican.”

You’re a Mestizo, Anita. You are not white. You are mixed race. And I don’t mean that in a ‘you’re not white and that’s gross’ way. I mean that in a ‘LKH, you have created a character who is WOC, can you stop being so casually racist and actually be a good writer for once’. And don’t get be started on ‘just happened to be Mexican’. Oh, I get it Anita, you find your mother and her heritage disgusting. For some reason.

And I find it rich she’s having this conversation with another POC, who has probably had to deal with shit because he’s a Native American every day of his life.

“No one’s ever got in your face about it, have they?”

I thought about it. My stepmother’s hurried comments to strangers that I was not hers. No, I wasn’t adopted. I was her stepdaughter. Me and Cinderella.

Hey, bitch, you weren’t abused as a child, so shut the fuck up.

The really rude ones would ask, “What was her mother?”

While that is rude, I notice that no one has ever levied a racial insult at Anita. Here’s a great big list of awful racial slurs thrown at Mexicans, and that’s not counting those who are fairly stupid and throw the N word at everything they don’t understand. Anita, you have never experienced a single instance of racial hatred or prejudice (that Anita remembers, which I would presume she would remember). And I bet you are going to take the moral highground over a man who is a member of a people who experience widespread animosity and prejudice and bigotry every fucking day of their lives. Still.

Judith would always answer quickly, “Her mother was Mexican.”

So, she went out of her way to correct the assholes who might have said something racist against you. What a horrible woman, protecting her stepdaughter.

Though lately it was Hispanic-American. No one could accuse Judith of not being politically correct on the issue of race.

Oh, what an evil woman, making sure that she is not offending people by accident and that she respects people. What a bitch.

My mother had died long before people had worried about political correctness being in vogue. If someone asked, she always said proudly, “Mexican.” If it was good enough for my mother, it was good enough for me.


Anita then goes on about that guy who dumped her for being ‘Mexican’ (yeah, I believe that) and that she thinks of herself as white. So, you’re not proud of being Hispanic then? She then bitches to Bernardo that people don’t think she’s white enough. Even though she has never experienced racial hatred or bigotry. No one has ever mentioned her Mexican heritage, other than as an excuse to fawn over how ‘exotic’ she is!

And then this happens.

“I think you’re jealous.”

“Of what?”

“That I can pass and you can’t.”

I’m sorry

was that

neeer neeer i look white and you don’t, kneel on the floor dirty ethnic to bask in my whiteness

i mean

she’s basically saying that bernardo looks like a dirty indian, right

and how awesome it is that she can pass but he’ll have to face prejudice every day of his life




I actually had to restraint myself from actually launching a twitter attack on LKH because that would be rude and I don’t want her to be aware of my existence.

Anyway, Bernardo just essentially sprawls on the ground and acts as a carpet for Anita, and praises her for… being her, and starts preening for her.

This is the most racist book I have ever read. And I’ve read Gone With The Wind.


11 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Obsidian Butterfly’ chapter eighteen

  1. Why is this here? If having a Mexican mother actually impacted Anita in any meaningful way that would be one thing, but this is turning into one huge awful racist mess. Anita would lose nothing by not having Mexican heritage.

    Also, I am confused. Being Mexican is good enough for her mother so it’s good enough for her. Except that she’s not Mexican, she’s white and just happens to have a Mexican mother. I want to give LKH the benefit of the doubt and say that it’s just really sloppy phrasing, but if it is, then she really shouldn’t be writing published novels.

    I hate Stereotype McPervert. I hate Edward. And I seem to remember something about people being murdered? Flayed bodies in a hospital? Killer still out there? No-one knows what it is? Am I the only who remembers this, LKH? If you don’t care about your plot, why should I?

      • She’ll probably write in her blog about why she isn’t racist in a really condescending tone. Last time I checked, she took a shot at George R. R. Martin for killing off his characters and how fat he is. How professional of her to do that.

      • Considering her series has been considered and passed over for a TV show (and True Blood, *and* The Vampires Diaries haven’t), I can imagine she’s still pissed about it. So yes, I can imagine she took a potshot at Martin.

        Also, yes: the conversation might have sounded better had she not been a smug brat about it. And if it really made sense to have it. I honestly can’t remember if Bernard is half-blooded, but if he isn’t, the statement makes no sense. Telling someone you can pass makes sense in the context of two people of mixed race/ethnicity who look different and are living with the fact society expects them to pick one side or the other. Kind of like Obama: he’s not the first black president, he’s the first biracial president. But he looks black, so ergo, he *is* black, and is considered only on the basis of his blackness. He can’t “pass” as white.

        So, uh, yeah. I don’t recall if Bernard is half, but if he isn’t, Anita’s comment is infuriatingly smug. And pointless.

  2. Ah yes, the infamous passing conversation. I have heard many people refer to it in horrified tones when recounting issues of race in the AB series. I count myself very, very lucky that I cannot remember it from when I read the book in high school.

    If this weren’t handled and worded so terribly, I’d think “well, maybe she identifies as white because she’s always been treated as white due to her appearance and has no connection to Mexican culture, so she probably doesn’t feel right about claiming a Mexican/mestiza identity even if she technically is by genetics” but no, nope, that’s not even close to how it’s coming off here. And how it’s coming off is Anita/LKH being godawfully racist while trying to make out like Judith was the totally racist one for…not being racist.


  3. The funny thing is, both me and Anita would be marking “white” on our census forms, because as concerned by race, that’s what we are. *Physically* however, yes, she “looks” white. (And I, personally, hate those categories with a passion: I can deal with the ethnicity, but racial categories are just shit Darwinian Science that we can’t stop using.) It’s an annoying and tricky thing.

    And even worse, her comments about passing are fairly accurate. I have an older classmate in a Latino/Latin American media class who looks white white white, but who was born in Mexico and is not only bilingual (Spanish and English) but he’s also since learned Portuguese. And the speaker we had just this last week who runs the local Spanish language newspaper assumed my classmate would be insulted at the word “Anglo,” because it never occurred to him that he was anything but a white man. But the main difference between him and Anita is that he’s perfectly fine and proud of being Mexican: he even has dual citizenship.

    I should include this in my paper on Chicano identity. And then thank LKH for helping me graduate by showing how utterly clueless she is about racial issues.

  4. Considering how confused I get whenever an application asks if I am white or Hispanic, or Two or More Races (Not Hispanic) [Because I can’t be those and Hispanic, why?], and get ethnicity and race mixed up, I could see Anita saying “No, I’m white, I just have Mexican heritage.” and I’d give her a pass. Because ethnically, yes. She wasn’t raised with any Mexican culture, etc. She is happens to trace her racial background to Mexico.

    The only reason I give it a pass is because I’m adopted and know that my grandmother was Mexican. Or Hispanic. I’m not even sure at this point. But the only exposure to Mexican culture came from Cinco de Mayo and Dio de Los Muertos celebrations in Spanish class, and a couple trips to Mexico with my parents, I don’t consider myself Mexican-American, Mestizo, or Latina. (Also, cry moar Anita. My half-siblings and birth mom are all blond and blue-eyed. I’m brunette with brown eyes. Deal with it.)

    • Yes, I think I’d find Anita’s statement acceptable under different circumstances – you know, if she wasn’t constantly being lauded as super wonderful exotic woman and talking about how awful it was that people kept knowing she was Mexican. It’s trying to mix both ‘I have no connection with my mother’s Mexican heritage’ and I’m beautiful and exotic because I’m Mexican’, and really not understanding the issue.

      LKH should just have written Anita as white. She is too blindly ignorant to write Anita.

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