Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Black Butterfly, by Shirley Reva Vernick

Penny's Mom is obsessed with ghosts and, after sixteen years, Penny has grown accustomed to her Mom rushing off at a moment's notice and leaving her with friends so she can pursue the latest sighting.  But it's something of a new low when Mom informs Penny that she's being sent to a remote island off the coast of Maine to stay with an old friend at the Black Butterfly Inn for Christmas.  Penny has never heard of this friend and isn't sure what to expect.  The initial reception is frosty -- her hostess is AWOL and her son is less than friendly.  But with some prodding and help from the Inn's cook, Penny and the boy break the ice.  At the same time, strange things are afoot at the Inn.  Secrets from the past play a large part and, much to Penny's surprise, even supernatural elements appear.

A bit of a messy story that starts off sensibly enough as a story of reconciliation as Penny learns about her mother's past through some old family friends.  The cook is a nice light touch and the story could have easily focused on healing and growth, and even thrown in some nice romance as well.  But Vernick wants to tell a ghost story, so we shift to the supernatural.  It's here that the story largely becomes unhinged.  There's several stories and none of them make much sense, but they work up to a climax that works OK within its bounds.  However, the end seems largely detached from the rest of the story.  It seemed forced and didn't gel.

No comments: