The Black Butterfly

The Black Butterfly by Shirley Reva Vernick (review copy provided by Edelweiss)

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When Penny’s mother decides that spending Christmas chasing after ghosts is more important than spending the holiday at home in Boston with her daughter, Penny isn’t just upset, she’s downright livid.

Penny is sick and tired of always taking a backseat to her mother’s (crazy) dreams. Maybe spending some time apart would do them both some good.

Even though Penny is being sent to a small, snow-y island off the coast of Maine, to stay with a person she doesn’t know and one that her mother claims is a friend even though she hasn’t talked to her for almost seventeen years. Begrudingly, she goes, fully intending to work on her creative writing paper and reading as many murder mysteries as possible.

But when she arrives at the Black Butterfly Inn she finds more than she bargains for. Behind it’s closed doors, Penny discovers a family she could call her own. She discovers that she isn’t as unlovable as she thought she was. She discovers Blue and Starla, two ghosts who have been lingering around the Inn for quite some time.

Upon meeting Blue is instantly taken with Penny. Always reveling in the fact that Penny can, not just see, but also talk to Blue, he fills her in on the Inn’s history and shows her how to dream travel. And then there’s Starla, a young girl who doesn’t look much older than Penny herself. Even though she barely knows her, Starla seems hellbent on getting rid of Penny any way she can.

Will Penny survive? Or is she fated to be stuck at the Black Butterfly In for the rest of her (after)life?

The Black Butterfly, written by author Shirley Reva Vernick, is a contemporary read that offers readers a (very) slight paranormal twist … but not much else.

Vernick’s writing was simple but engaging. Even though there were aspects that I didn’t necessarily like or enjoy, The Black Butterfly, kept me – not only engaged but also intrigued – from start to finish. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen during the course of the book. And it’s because of Vernick’s writing style.

In terms of what I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy, I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with The Black Butterfly. I really enjoyed the pacing as a whole. Pacing is a very important to me as a reader – so much so that if isn’t spot on, the whole book is ruined for me.  Vernick’s pacing was spot on.Besides the pacing, I really enjoyed the setting. As a small, secluded island off the coast of Maine the setting felt like a character itself, often lending an air of mystery.

Speaking of characters – I didn’t love them. I wanted to, but they fell flat for me. One dimensional, I found all the characters that graced the pages of The Black Butterfly, were not relatable. There wasn’t one that I rooted for. There wasn’t one I connected to, personally. And because of this, it just brought the book down for me as a whole.

Penny was whiney, often complaining about one thing or another. George, though I liked him, I felt his presence was thrown in to be used as a romantic ploy.

Even though The Black Butterfly wasn’t billed as a romance I found the romantic aspect of this book to be contrived and rush. It was as if Penny and George were in love upon meeting – which I just want to point out was okay for Penny but not for her mother.

But all these things I could have overlooked at one point or another. What I couldn’t overlook was the paranormal twist – or lack thereof. Going into The Black Butterfly I thought this book would be a bit more haunting, a bit more bone chilling, a bit more scary. What I found though were mediocre ghosts who did very little scaring. Again, I felt as if their presence was just a plot ploy.

Again, I definitely didn’t love this book.  But there was something about it – something I can’t quite put my finger on – that kept me reading. I wanted more as a reader. I wanted what I expected of it. Even though I didn’t love it, doesn’t mean you won’t like it. Read it, dear readers, and let’s discuss.

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