Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Butterfly Sister

Author: Amy Gail Hansen
Genre: Mystery
Type: Paperback
Pages: 320
Source: Local Library
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
First Published: August 2013
First Line: "Gwen could not have been more explicit at our first session: I was to cease reading books by or about women who killed themselves."

Book Description from GoodReads"My past was never more than one thought, one breath, one heartbeat away. And then, on that particular October evening, it literally arrived at my doorstep."

Eight months after dropping out of Tarble, an all-women's college, twenty-two-year-old Ruby Rousseau is still haunted by the memories of her senior year-a year marred by an affair with her English professor and a deep depression that not only caused her to question her own sanity but prompted a failed suicide attempt.

And then a mysterious paisley print suitcase arrives, bearing Ruby's name and address on the tag. When Ruby tries to return the luggage to its rightful owner, Beth Richards, her dorm mate at Tarble, she learns that Beth disappeared two days earlier, and the suitcase is the only tangible evidence as to her whereabouts.

Consumed by the mystery of the missing girl and the contents of the luggage-a tattered copy of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, the book on which Ruby based her senior thesis, and which she believes instigated her madness-she sets out to uncover the truth, not only about Beth Richards's past but also her own. In doing so, Ruby is forced to re-examine the people from her past: the professor who whisked her away to New Orleans and then shattered her heart and the ghosts of dead women writers who beckoned her to join their illustrious group. And when Ruby's storyline converges with Beth's in a way she never imagined, she returns to the one place she swore she never would: her alma mater.

My Review: I recently got a job at one of my local libraries.  I know, right?  I'm in total book nerd nirvana!  One of the major perks is that I can easily take books out and see what's new in the world of books.  This book was sitting on the "New Fiction" shelves and I noticed it right away as I was waiting for my first training shift so I picked it up and I was very happy with this quick selection.

This was a very impressive debut novel that kept my attention right from the beginning.  There was something utterly riveting about this book.  It was paced perfectly and had many twists and turns, many of which I didn't see coming. All in all, a great read.

Going into this book I was assuming that it would be a suspenseful read -- and it was.  But it was so much more.  It was a mystery and suspense plus a slight nod to the supernatural.  I also appreciated that the author took the time to delve into the world of depression, loss, and obsession and how quickly she got me immersed into Ruby's life.

There were some slight drawbacks though.  While I'm an avid reader even I wasn't able to 'get' all of the literary references (and there were quite a few).  Not fully understanding the references didn't hinder me from keeping up with the plot but I also don't like that niggling feeling of not quite getting something.

Also, the ending was not predictable per se but everything seemed to work out a little too perfectly for the antagonist's evil plans with some coincidences that perhaps were a little far-fetched.  But it's fiction, right?  Plus, I have to admit that I enjoyed connecting the dots with the early parts of the story as we neared the end of the suspense. 

There were several twists that I didn't see coming and a couple that I did but overall I really enjoyed this page turner.  This was a very impressive debut novel that I thoroughly enjoyed because it engaged me and took me along a very different road than I was expecting.  I eagerly look forward to reading more from this author.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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