Obsidian Butterfly

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Obsidian Butterfly
2000 US cover
AuthorLaurell K. Hamilton
Cover artistJudith Murello & Erika Fusari (US editions)
CountryUnited States
SeriesAnita Blake: Vampire Hunter
GenreHorror, Mystery, Erotic novel
PublisherAce Books (Ace edition)
Publication date
2000 (Ace edition)
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages386 pp (Ace edition)
ISBN0-441-00684-1 (Ace edition)
813/.54 21
LC ClassPS3558.A443357 O7 2000
Preceded byBlue Moon 
Followed byNarcissus in Chains 

Obsidian Butterfly is the ninth in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of horror/mystery/erotica novels by Laurell K. Hamilton.

Plot introduction[edit]

Obsidian Butterfly continues the adventures of Anita Blake. In this novel, Anita travels to New Mexico to investigate a series of supernatural attacks as a favor to her long-time friend, the assassin Edward. In the course of that investigation, Anita picks up many clues as to the enigmatic Edward's life and past, comes in contact with an alleged Aztec god, and attempts, as always, to sort out her own relationship with Jean-Claude and Richard. As with the other novels in the series, Obsidian Butterfly blends elements of supernatural and hardboiled detective fiction.

Explanation of the title[edit]

As with previous novels, "Obsidian Butterfly" refers to a location within the novel itself. In this case, the "Obsidian Butterfly" is the name of a nightclub operated by Itzpapalotl, a vampire who claims to be the Aztec goddess of the same name. "Obsidian Butterfly" (a folkloric reference to bats) is one of the English translations of Itzpapalotl, rendering the nightclub and the book eponymous.

Plot summary[edit]

In Obsidian Butterfly, Anita travels to New Mexico to repay the favor that she promised Edward at the end of The Killing Dance. Edward wants Anita to assist in a set of apparently supernatural attacks that have left numerous victims dead, and has skinned alive many survivors.

In the course of the investigation, Anita learns more about Edward's personal life than she ever has before. She meets Donna, Edward's fiancee (in his civilian identity of legal bounty hunter "Ted Forrester") and Donna's children, Peter and Becca. She and Edward also come into conflict with a number of mercenaries who work for Edward's former boss, "Van Cleef," allowing Anita to learn a few clues about Edward's former life.

Anita also comes into contact with a number of possible suspects and sources for information: the Aztec vampire and purported goddess Itzpapalotl; her priest and human servant Pinotl; local Ulfric, Roland, and Roland's necromancer/vargamor and local tough guy Nicky Baco.

Ultimately, Anita learns that a second Aztec vampire/god, Red Woman's Husband, is awakening in New Mexico. After sleeping for centuries, Red Woman's Husband began awakening when Riker, (Harold's boss) raided his tomb, stealing several jade idols. In order to finish his awakening, Red Woman's Husband's priest and his animal servant have been skinning and killing the people who bought the idols stolen from his tomb, animating the skinned corpses as servants.

Riker takes Becca and Peter hostage in an attempt to force Anita to protect him from Red Woman's Husband, but Anita, Edward, and Edward's associates Bernardo and Olaf rescue Edward's family and kill everyone involved with their kidnapping. Anita is captured by Red Woman's Husband, who plans to consume her life energy to complete his awakening, but with Itzpapalotl's help, she is able to kill the vampire instead.

Realizing that Edward loves his soon-to-be family in some way, Anita leaves them without interfering and returns to St. Louis to begin work on her own romantic relationships.

Characters in Obsidian Butterfly[edit]

Major characters[edit]

Obsidian Butterfly features the following major characters.

  • Anita Blake
  • Edward
  • Jean-Claude and Richard: Have only minor roles in this novel, contacting Anita briefly by dream and phone, respectively. Initially, Anita explains that she has taken a "break" from dating either of them and has done her best to block off their spiritual connection. By the end of the novel, she has decided to accept and renew her connection with both men.

Other characters[edit]

Other than the characters discussed above, Obsidian Butterfly features only one recurring character, FBI agent Bradley Bradford. Agent Bradford backs Anita up against the local police when necessary, and warns Anita that agencies within the US government are reviewing her file, possibly with the intent of recruiting her for her animator abilities.

The novel briefly mentions Marianne repeatedly, but she never makes a real appearance.

Non-recurring characters include:

  • Cesar: A wereleopard who acted as a sacrifice for Itzpapalotl's stage show at Obsidian Butterfly.
  • Seth: A werejaguar priest who fed Itzpapalotl and her minions by cutting himself with a silver blade and allowing them to drink from the bleeding cuts. Anita has to save him from his mistress, when he has problems becoming aroused for an offering, Anita uses her leopard aspect to stimulate his jaguar side.
  • Lieutenant Marks: Officer in charge of the investigation of the Albuquerque killings. Due to his right-wing religious beliefs, he takes an instant dislike to Anita for being an animator (quoting to her Exodus 22:18, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live") and repeatedly tries to keep her from assisting with the investigation.
  • Detective Hernando Ramirez: Cheerful, optimistic, and romantic; he likes Anita in more than a professional way. However, Anita already considers her plate full with her unresolved issues with regards to Jean-Claude and Richard back in Missouri.
  • Doctor Evans and Lenora Evans: Doctor Evans is in charge of treating the "survivors" of the serial killer's attacks and also treats Anita's injuries. His wife, Lenora, is a practicing witch who tells Anita that closing herself off to Richard and Jean-Claude has left her vulnerable to metaphysical attack.
  • Red Woman's Husband: a vampire that had delusions that he was a God, killed by Anita

Major themes[edit]

Anita struggles with the concept of love and other character's opinions of it. Ramirez has a very romantic sense of it, he explained that his grandma had been in love with two men and then saw his grandfather and instantly fell in love with only him. Anita calls Ramirez naive and yet is saddened when he flinched as she removed the Red Woman's Husband's heart. Lenora Evans and Anita have another talk about love and how it confines an individual's freedom. Anita seems scared of that, not exactly of sharing a living space but sharing parts of herself.

Also, Edward urges Anita in the beginning of the book to have a nice uncomplicated one-night stand with someone, even Bernando. Anita thinks about that from time to time, even thinking of Ramirez in that light but decides against it when being his girlfriend could compromise her status on the murder cases. Ramirez might be slightly sensitive as well, and Anita notes that maybe she's more attracted to people who aren't entirely human like herself. Anita has thought before that as much as Richard and Jean-Claude embrace and desire her for her somewhat humanity, she embraces their inhumanity.

Unlike the case in Blue Moon, Anita is secure in her Christian faith, especially when faced with characters that consider themselves gods, such as Itzpapalotl and the Red Woman's Husband. Her faith helps her resist and ultimately defeat the Red Woman's Husband, who needed his victims to believe themselves worthy sacrifices to him.

Release details[edit]