No Butterflies Were Harmed In The Reading Of This Novel

The Butterfly Sister - Amy Gail Hansen

I compulsively check the Kindle Daily Deals every day. My fun money account gradually dwindles between infusions in $1.99 increments. Apparently, I bought this a while ago and for some reason stuck it in my "Historical" collection on the Kindle.


I have no memory of doing this.


This is not a historical novel.


It also has nothing to do with butterflies. (The title doesn't make sense until the last 10% or so.)


Amy Gail Hansen's The Butterfly Sister isn't a bad book. It's an okay mystery that tries a little too hard for a literary feel, which results in the 22-year-old protagonist sounding like a pretentious twit at times. The pretentious part actually fits with my personal experiences with young English majors. When you live, eat, and breathe classic English literature for months on end, it has an interesting effect on your speech patterns. The twit part comes from necessity. If Ruby Rousseau had been a sensible girl, we wouldn't have a story.


It's the contrivances that bring this story down. If Ruby was a character in a horror movie, she'd be the one who goes to investigate the strange noises alone in the dark. The one who runs away from the killer/monster and trips on nothing. The one who stays in the house she knows is haunted by nasty, malevolent spirits. Wherever the story needs her to go, she goes, willingly and witlessly. I couldn't feel sorry for her at all.


Part of my Ruby apathy comes from the dim view I take on adultery. Married professor makes a pass? Sweet! Let's spare a thought or two for the poor wife, but no more than that. She obviously doesn't love him the way he deserves. Not like Ruby loves him! *eyeroll* I'm at least thankful that the adultery wasn't romanticized. All the players are made suitably miserable, and the ramifications are far-reaching if predictable (and, yes, contrived).


The writing flows smoothly for the most part, with the notable exception of one or two really strange analogies and some odd word choices: He scrounged his lips sent me to the dictionary to see if any definition of scrounged fit in that context. Non-verbal verbs like divulged and covered used as dialogue tags, etc. I only noticed a couple of definite typos (both in the same chapter - the proofers must've run out of coffee toward the end of the book), and minimal typos always make me happy.


In the end this was just an average read for me. There were times I would have rather read Ruby's thesis on female writers who committed suicide (it actually sounded really interesting and made me want to know more about Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman), but there's enough potential in this debut novel that I'll be keeping an eye out for this author.