This wildly popular author often has interesting titles and this, I think, is one of her best titles for one of her best books in the Anita Blake series.

Obsidian Butterfly is the poetic Aztec euphemism for the knife priests used to carve out the beating heart of a sacrificial victim and/or flay him/her alive.

The Aztecs dominated Central America, conquering and enslaving weaker aboriginal tribes, and used prisoners of war as sacrifices (though sometimes they sacrificed their own children). Yes, they really did commit such atrocities. On a regular basis. That’s what the vaunted Aztec calendar (which I’ve seen) in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City is all about.

Jared Diamond, in Guns, Germs, and Steel, indignantly tells the tale of how the Spanish literally wiped out the Aztecs in a matter of days by (mostly inadvertently) infecting them with smallpox, a disease to which the urban-dwelling Spaniards had developed an immunity. The genocide was a terrible thing, true, but I for one shed few politically correct tears for a nasty gang of psychopaths.

The gruesome Aztec culture is the backdrop against which LKH (as she’s known to her fans) sets her gruesome tale. Anita Blake, a U.S. marshal charged with hunting and exterminating vampires, is called away from her native St. Louis to Santa Fe to help stop a supernatural, Aztec-influenced killer who is torturing and killing people en masse.

Anita is the quintessential urban fantasy heroine: profane, sarcastic, violent, sexual, fearless. In later books, apparently, she acquires supernatural powers, but in this book she’s simply human. Virtually every male character lusts for Anita, which sometimes feels overly self-aggrandizing, and she’s portrayed as a sexpert. Self deprecation is not in her vocabulary.

Other readers have noticed that Anita scorns, disparages, or competes with virtually every female character. Or she thinks the character is a lesbian lusting for her. Though she occasionally refers to feminism, Anita comes across as oddly misogynist. As an author who has written about friendship between women (in Summer of Love, The Gilded Age, and The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria among others), I find that off-putting.

Be forewarned that the book fearlessly treads on taboos: there is homosexual torture and sex, sexual child abuse, child torture, torture as a glamorous nightclub act. If you can tolerate that, you’ll find a complex and twisty plot and vivid writing.

Lately readers have complained that LKH’s considerable authorial skill has declined. It’s possible that, after 20 books in 20 years (in just this series; she’s got others), the author may be a bit burned out.

I can think of another possibility. Obsidian Butterfly is probably 150,000 words; the recent works clock in at around 80,000. I have it on good authority that LKH’s Big Publisher no longer publishes works of more than 80K words. It’s possible, therefore, that LKH is at her best when she can stretch out in a book like Obsidian Butterfly, with its plot complications and colorful descriptions. And that she’s not as comfortable writing at a shorter length.

Why, you may wonder, would a Big Publisher rein in an author, force her to arbitrarily chop down a work, to her critical detriment? To economize on the cost of paper and ink, of course. Would a Big Publisher do that? The answer is Yes. It happened to me and Pangaea (the cost of paper and ink was the excuse handed to me, but that’s another story).

As for the answer to the first question, bear in mind the Big Publisher doesn’t take the heat from disgruntled readers and reviewers; the author does. Like the Aztec priest wielding his Obsidian Butterfly, the Big Publisher just doesn’t care.

So there you have it, my friend. If you require gore and shock value in your reading entertainment, this is for you.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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More affordable titles for your reading enjoyment:

New Romantic Suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. Meanwhile, as they begin a hot affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Coming soon! Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, which will include Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, and Book 4: Terminus. The Omnibus Edition will include all three books.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

New Urban fantasy! The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments. Begin with Book 1: Life’s Journey on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

The Bantam classic, Summer of Love is available in seven affordable installments. Begin at the beginning on Nook, Kindle, or UK Kindle

Suspense! Don’t miss SHAKEN, my sexy thriller, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Literary science fiction! And don’t miss TOMORROW’S CHILD, The Story That Sold To The Movies. This began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Thank you for your readership!