Book: The Butterfly Girl

The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first novel, The Child Finder by Denfeld, largely because of Naomi’s mysterious and generous spirit. This book was darker and murkier than the original and I found it really hard to read on in parts. The characters and their individual struggles made it worthwhile, yet I’ll reserve a star for the tidy ending that almost felt too neatly wrapped up.

The parallel stories of Naomi and Celia were agonising. Naomi is looking for a younger sister who she recalls vaguely abandoning to escape from their abductor. This was the revelation at the end of The Child Finder that left me (and I’m sure others) wanting more of Naomi. Celia is a somewhere between 12 and 13, living on the streets with two young boys and a host of other kids. As young girls are taken from the streets and found gutted in the nearby river, Celia and her friends add murder to their laundry list of things to be wary of. Naomi arrives in town, led there in her search for her sister and she crosses paths with all the homeless kids. I kept wanting Naomi to save Celia from her horrible life. The repeated hits and misses, the small seeds of need Celia showed, her heartbreaking calls for help from Naomi and the adults around her who she kept hoping would help her was gut wrenchingly rendered.

The will-she-won’t-she be rescued story took me all the way to the end in one night – no sleep required, just a need to find out how it all ends. Read it even if you haven’t read the first book but I think knowing the energy Naomi brought to the first one helped forgive her mistakes in this book. There were several instances were Naomi, for me, was the villain. Too absorbed in her own worries to see the ways she could help around her. Her behaviour is never justified just is and that was saving grace for me.

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