Monday, September 30, 2019

Review: The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld

Title: The Butterfly Girl
Author: Rene Denfeld
Series: Naomi Cottle, #2
Published: October 2019, Harper
Format: ARC Paperback, 272 pages
Source: Publisher

The Butterfly Girl is a riveting novel that ripples with truth, exploring the depths of love and sacrifice in the face of a past that cannot be left dead and buried. Margaret Atwood raved on twitter about this "heartbreaking, finger-gnawing, yet ultimately hopeful novel."

A year ago, Naomi, the investigator with an uncanny ability for finding missing children, made a promise that she would not take another case until she finds the younger sister who has been missing for years. Naomi has no picture, not even a name. All she has is a vague memory of a strawberry field at night, black dirt under her bare feet as she ran for her life.

The search takes her to Portland, Oregon, where scores of homeless children wander the streets like ghosts, searching for money, food, and companionship. The sharp-eyed investigator soon discovers that young girls have been going missing for months, many later found in the dirty waters of the river. Though she does not want to get involved, Naomi is unable to resist the pull of children in need—and the fear she sees in the eyes of a twelve-year old girl named Celia. Running from an abusive stepfather and an addict mother, Celia has nothing but hope in the butterflies—her guides and guardians on the dangerous streets. She sees them all around her, tiny iridescent wisps of hope that soften the edges of this hard world and illuminate a cherished memory from her childhood—the Butterfly Museum, a place where everything is safe and nothing can hurt her.

As danger creeps closer, Naomi and Celia find echoes of themselves in one another, forcing them each to consider the question: Can you still be lost even when you’ve been found? But will they find the answer too late?

My thoughts: Two years ago I read The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld and I absolutely loved it! So of course, I was thrilled to learn she had written a follow-up book in this series and it became a most anticipated read for this fall. I was quite fortunate to pick up this gem at BookExpo this past Spring.

Now, while this latest book does stand on it's own, I highly recommend reading the previous book. Not only is it also a fantastic book, but you will get a better idea of just who Naomi is and what drives her. It really does set the stage for this book.

Once again, I found myself completely captivated by Rene Denfeld's writing. It is both lyrical and haunting. She has again taken the mystery thriller and given it her own spin, alternating voices from that of the eyes of a child to that of the private investigator. And with just the slightest hint of magical realism once again coming into play without any parts of that genre in the book actually being there. It is again more through the child's imagination that any use of magical realism and this truly is the beauty of this book, this is what sets this book, and this author, apart from anything I've read.

I love Naomi. I'm so glad that the author decided to write another book about her, because after the first book I just knew we weren't done with her. I love how she uses her past to build her career, finding children and bringing them home or at least bringing closure to those parents whose children have been murdered. She is one strong, fierce character, yet incredibly vulnerable to what her past has done to her. 

There is such a poetic way that this author approaches the darkness that lies within this book. And it touches on some dark and horrible things - the street kids and the way the foster system fails so many children. But she is able to balance it with lightness, too and it leaves you with a sense of hope. 

I hope this is not the last we have seen of Naomi Cottle. But whether it is or not, it is certainly not going to be the last I read of Rene Denfeld...she is most definitely going on my must-read list, for sure!


1 comment

  1. This novel sounds quite absorbing. I like the idea of the child's imagination creating the beauty in this book. Lovely review, Kristin!


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