Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Rene Denfeld has quickly become one of my favorite authors in the thriller genre. I fell in love with Naomi's story in The Child Finder and could not wait to pick up where it left off with The Butterfly Girl. Denfeld has a unique writing style that is lyrical and almost poetic. Poetic is not something you often think of when you think of thrillers, but Denfeld beautifully crafts her writing in a way that is captivating.
The Butterfly Girl is the second book in the series involving Naomi Cottle, a private investigator who specializes in locating lost children. Naomi's history is heartbreaking and definitive of how her career has progressed. As a young girl, Naomi and her sister were kidnapped and held hostage by an unknown assailant. One evening, she managed to muster enough courage and strength to escape, but sadly her sister did not make it out with her. Naomi's memory has suppressed almost all of these memories from her mind, but during her search for a missing girl in The Child Finder, she recaptures the memory that she had a sister. The Butterfly Girl picks up on Naomi's search for her missing sister and also follows the story of Celia, a young girl who lives on the streets and crosses paths with Naomi.
Celia has a tragic backstory that ultimately brought her to living on the streets with other "street kids." Foraging through dumpsters for food, sleeping under highway bypasses, and navigating the cruel evenings, trying to avoid imminent danger. One by one, other street girls are found murdered and the killer is at large. Celia is an intelligent girl and she has a fascination with butterflies. Her imagination and love for butterflies are what keep her alive each day. When the days are as dark as the nights, Celia allows her imagination to take her far away from the cold streets. She finds solace at the public library, where a tender librarian keeps her favorite butterfly book stowed away behind the counter and brings it out when she comes by.
Naomi searches for her missing sister, following every lead she comes across. Her path eventually crosses Celia and she forms a bond with her. Their stories meld at the end and come together to form a satisfying conclusion. Denfeld does an amazing job crafting characters that readers connect with and become emotionally invested in. After reading The Child Finder, I had to know the ending to Naomi's story and The Butterfly Girl wraps it up beautifully.
My only criticism, which is very, very minor, is that I felt like the ending was a bit rushed. I do think the story could have been elaborated more towards the end. I felt that I had a conclusion, but something was missing that I cannot quite put my finger on. One thing I love about Denfeld's writing, is that she writes from the heart. Sometimes I gloss over the Acknowledgments section at the end of a book, but I highly recommend you read it. Denfeld writes from personal experience. She was once a "street kid" and found solace herself in the public library. She is also a private investigator and that alone explains why she was able to create such a relatable character like Naomi. Reading facts like that make me honor and respect authors that much more. You can truly see the amount of effort and love they put into their work.
I gave The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld a ★★★★.5 review and I highly recommend it if you were a fan of The Child Finder. You will not be disappointed.
Thank you SO much to Rene and the people at Harper Books for the ARC and finished copy of The Butterfly Girl. I am so honored to have been able to read and review this beautiful thriller.