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


Hey look someone finally told LKH that a concluding chapter is an epilogue. whoopdedo.

Marks tried to press assault charges, but Bernardo and I said we didn’t know what he was talking about. Doctor Evans said his injuries were inconsistent with being hit by a person.

Oh, you smug little shits. Considering Bernardo will have left a great big round dent in Marks’s skull, I highly doubt a competent doctor would be able to miss that or claim that SOMEHOW he got a cast shaped wound by falling on the floor. But Doctor Evans lives inside Anita’s buttcrack, so they can get away with attempted murder.

Marks was in the doghouse about how he’d handled the case.

Marks was a bigot, that’s true. However, considering how lazy, incompetent, and incapable Anita was of even approaching this case with, Marks did an all right job. Especially considering that the evidence gathered by the police would never have gotten RWH. ESPECIALLY considering that Anita withheld evidence.

Anita and Bernardo get to be in all the press, lording it over everyone about how they solved the crime and were so amazing.

Edward caught a secondary infection from something that had been smeared on the stake. He took a relapse, and I stayed. Donna took turns sitting by his bed. Sitting by Becca’s bed. It got to the point where the little girl cried when I left.

God Anita is so wanking wonderful that a child prefers her over her own mother. Despite Anita hating children and not really interacting with Becca.

Peter won’t tell his mother about what happened, and Anita decides to hide the secret from his mother because duhhhhh Donna’s just a stupid new age bitch who can’t be trusted to fart on her own and certainly can’t look after her own fucking children.

Donna actually rose to the occasion. She was like this incredible pillar of strength for the kids, for Ted, even though he couldn’t hear her talking to him. She never once turned to me in tears. It was like this new person had risen from the ashes of the person I’d first met. It saved me having to hurt her.

You sanctimonious little shit stain. Donna has been through the murder of her husband happening before her eyes. She has two children. She has her own business. She has faced off against a local mob boss who wanted to kill her. Donna has more ‘strength’ than Anita Blake could ever hope, have, or wish for. Strength does not come from torture or rape or physically hurting those who annoy you. ‘Strength’ comes from having the guts to carry on day by day, to never give up, and to never show the world what you’re feeling. It takes ‘strength’ to raise a child, because ‘strength’ is measured in patience, in kindness, in bravery, in determination.

That’s why Anita is a terrible character. I keep reading fans saying how she’s so ‘strong’ but she’s not. She’s a weak bully.

Edward gets better (booooooooooo) and Anita goes home. Edward gets distressed because, oh noes, Anita might have killed Olaf.

WHY IS EVERYONE DEFENDING THE SERIAL RAPIST AND MURDERER

They talk about how Olaf isn’t anyone’s friends – no shit – and how it must be tru wuv between Anita and Olaf. Anita is SAD because Edward was maybe once a good guy. HA. They then talk about how Peter is really Edward’s son, because apparently, LKH hates all mothers as well. Which is weird. Blah blah shitting on Donna bullshit, and then Anita’s saying goodbye to Papa. Papa wants to talk with JC – I hope that involves tearing him to shreds – and then Anita decides to think about her life.

She thinks about how she should talk to her friends, which implies that she has been avoiding them for eight months. Anita Blake is a crappy friend. She thinks about her friends, and then the possibility of getting back in contact with JC and Richard. She can’t choose between them because of wuv.

 

What did I think of Obsidian Butterfly?

This book is considered the highlight of the Anita Blake series. For better or worse, this is the book that will be mentioned in twenty years time when this series is discussed. I don’t think Anita Blake will continue to be relevant in even ten years time – the series is paddling water already – but with such a long series, if it is mentioned, Obsidian Butterfly will be the novel discussed. It is the culmination of LKH’s early work, her ‘good’ period, before the series devolved into a perpetual bonkathon. At it’s core, OB is a detective thriller, with supernatural elements, and does hark back to the early books before the convoluted mess of romance became a bigger and bigger part of the books.

Unfortunately, for me, this is a perfect call back to the first book in the sense that the mystery is entirely incompetent. LKH cannot write a murder mystery. Perhaps that is unfair of me – with good editing, a willingness to take criticism, and knowledge of actual writing technique, she might be able to write a good story. This book is, fundamentally, not a good story. The basic building blocks of all stories are not here. There is no build up, no climax, no resolution. It is a collection of random tangents that have been pressed together by a writer who cannot link scenes to each other. There were interesting elements to the mystery of Red Woman’s Husband – the Aztec vampires, the bodies with traces of obsidian, Nicky Baco, the ideas of revenge and the history of colonialism. But that’s all they are. Elements. They are not used well and the mystery has nothing to do with the evidence collected.

The rot is further evidenced in how little the title character interacts with the mystery. Anita Blake has no interest in solving the mystery. She has to be reminded by suspects that she is supposed to be asking them about the crime. She has to be constantly reminded that she is trying to solve a series of brutal murders! LKH has no interest in Anita solving the mystery because that’s not really what the book is about. At its core, it is about a self insert character running around while being totally amazing and living a wonderful life with no adult consequences or responsibilities. That’d be fine, if it was done well. Wish fulfilment is fine. That’s why romance novels where characters get whisked away to a life of unlimited love and luxury are very popular. I love trashy romance novels, but mostly because they are cheap and flash and don’t take themselves seriously.

But this book is intensely serious. It takes itself so seriously. Which is why I take such offence at the repeated jabs and snipes at women, at racial minorities, at disabled, at single mothers, at Europe – quite famously, it would seem. Because Anita is always right. As this book shows, there are no other views other than those held by Anita. Everything outside of what she considers acceptable is inherently bad. And that’s such a childish view when you’re writing a book. Anita is held up as this perfect paradigm, but it’s so stifling to only be allowed to experience the world through Anita’s blinkered eyes. I want complexities from these characters. I want depth.

A complexity of character can never be achieved while LKH flip flops from event to event, desperate in her quest to make the ZOMG MOST DRAMATIC SCENE EVUR WRITTEN. Drama arises naturally from tension and conflict, two things LKH has serious problems with. She feels the way to make drama is to include ‘shocking’ events, with no thought as to how it impacts the story. Indeed, it often means LKH forgets vital elements of the story in her rush to include an attempted rape or something gory with vampires. This is entirely unnecessary and makes for a disjointed read. Scenes are relegated to non-importance, wasting my time and space within the narrative.

Obsidian Butterfly is a sprawling mess. It is not a story. It is a pile of scenes. I am astounded that this was published. It is a draft, badly needing editing for suitability of content, length, consistency, and basic research. I would be ashamed if my company published this. I would be ashamed if this was put out with my name on the cover. I hated this book, cover to cover.

tldr captain america has no time for this shit

I’ll be posting my next recommendation tomorrow, and I’ll start looking at Narcissus in Chains on either Friday or Sunday, depending on schedule. Tiger Gray might be posting concurrent reviews, which would be an interesting experience – reviews in tandem. Debating opinions is always fun!

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7 thoughts on “A review of Laurell K. Hamilton’s ‘Obsidian Butterfly’ epilogue

  1. …Well, okay, now that it’s finally over, we can move on. To NiC. Joy. On an unrelated note, I finally got around to reading Dracula. Huh, better than I thought it would be.

  2. “At its core, it is about a self insert character running around while being totally amazing and living a wonderful life with no adult consequences or responsibilities. That’d be fine, if it was done well. Wish fulfilment is fine. That’s why romance novels where characters get whisked away to a life of unlimited love and luxury are very popular. I love trashy romance novels, but mostly because they are cheap and flash and don’t take themselves seriously. But this book is intensely serious. It takes itself so seriously.”

    Yes, this! I am totally down with some wish fulfillment, and there’s certainly a market for them. But in addition to taking itself way too seriously for what it is, AB also, as you pointed out, is fulfillment of some very nasty wishes. There’s nothing all that wrong with a super-powered perfect protagonist that is the most pretty and everyone loves her and saves the day with zero consequences. It’s not great writing outside of its appropriate genre, but it’s not an actively harmful thing; it’s nice, even, in its fluffy way. Everyone needs some escapism. But LKH’s fantasies and self-insertion involve all kinds of grossness–her avatar getting to shit on other women, wearing a bi-racial identity as an ‘exotic’ costume, rape and murder and enslave other people, the list goes on—that it’s not harmless. It puts out more shit into the world that doesn’t need to be there, and I really do not think anyone who has these fantasies or enjoys them can be a nice person at all.

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