Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Butterfly Palace" Review

Lily Donaldson arrives in Austin, Texas, in 1904 hoping for a new beginning. Abandoned by her true love years ago and overcome with grief over the recent loss of her mother, Lily is determined to make her way in the world starting with a position as a maid at the prestigious home of Everett and Camille Marshall – Butterfly Palace.

But Lily’s hope for a new life in Austin is quickly tarnished when she finds that her former beau – Drew Hawkes, as he is now known – is also in Austin and is involved with some business dealings with Mr. Marshall. Not only that, but someone known as the Servant Girl Killer is once again terrorizing the town, and no servant feels safe.

When Lily discovers that there’s more to Drew’s visit in Austin than just everyday business, she finds herself in the middle of an intricate snare of lies, betrayal, and murder. Who can she trust? And will she be able to determine the truth before it’s too late?

Colleen Coble has been a favorite of mine since I read her Mercy Falls series a few years ago. That series is probably still my favorite of her novels, but I have enjoyed others as well.

The setting and feeling of this novel were interesting and gave it a unique air. The upstairs/downstairs aspect gave it a high society feel but with politics involved, since it took place in the capital city of Texas. I normally get really bogged down in political storylines, but this one was intricately woven into the suspense portion of the plot, and it was done well. The butterfly angle gave the novel a unique flair as well.

The suspense part of this novel was indeed intricate, and it was what really kept the plot moving throughout. I enjoy a little bit of mystery and suspense thrown into historical fiction, but this novel was really more suspense than anything else. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like that fact, but as I kept reading, I got very involved in the many twists and turns of the extremely suspenseful plot. The action in this novel is what gave it backbone and kept it moving, and it was enjoyable. There were a couple of things that were a bit over-the-top, but it was definitely entertaining.

While the suspense and actions portions of Butterfly Palace were good, the development of the main characters was not quite up to par. The secondary characters were interesting – I especially enjoyed Belle and her transformation and growth throughout the course of the novel – but I didn’t connect very well to Lily and not entirely to Drew, either. Lily seemed very na├»ve and extremely reckless at times, and she didn’t seem to change very much during the story, even though it was implied that she did. Drew was fine but I struggled to understand his dilemma over being with Lily or keeping his job.

I also didn’t always understand the connection between Lily and Drew. I realize that they had a past together, but their attraction to each other seemed mostly physical and feeling-oriented instead of true, deep, lasting love.

I also was not very impressed with the spiritual aspect of this novel. When God was mentioned it seemed to be mostly an afterthought. The significance of Christ did not come across clearly at all. In fact, people in the novel seemed to be labeled either “good” or “evil” as opposed to the book delivering the message of the gospel – that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

As far as lighter mystery novels go, I thought Butterfly Palace was really good. If the other aspects of the plot had been as good, it would have been a much more excellent novel overall.

I will give Butterfly Palace ... 4 BookWorms.

Butterfly Palace
by Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication date: January 21, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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