Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review: The Butterfly Palace by Colleen Coble

Publisher: HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Pub. Date: January 28th, 2014
Pages/Length: 332 pages / 9 hours, 26 minutes


Elegance and wealth. Privilege and politics. The extravagance of the Butterfly Palace
overwhelmed Lily’s senses and nearly smothered her painful memories. She pushed
away her misgivings . . . She was perfectly safe in this huge house.

Austin, Texas—1904: Abandoned by the love of her life and still mourning the loss of her mother, Lily Donaldson has turned her back on the pain and come to Austin for a fresh start, working for the Marshall family as a kitchen maid in their luxurious mansion, the Butterfly Palace. The tasks before her are legion, and her mistress less than pleasant, but at least Lily’s new life will be, if nothing else, distracting.

But one night, while serving at a dinner party, Lily recognizes the man who abandoned her, Andy, her liaison from the livery stable, the blacksmith’s son . . .sitting among the distinguished guests. Though he recognizes her, Andy does not acknowledge her aloud, and Lily is left reeling, flabbergasted, and irate.

But before she can get an explanation, the path of the Servant Girl Killer swerves very close to the Butterfly Palace, sowing terror among the maids. Having come to Austin to start anew, Lily suddenly feels trapped in a spider web. How can she know who to trust in a house where lies come dressed in fine suits and deceit in silk gowns the colors of butterfly wings?

What Did I Think About the Story?

What initially drew me to The Butterfly Palace was this gorgeous cover and the fact that it's historical fiction that takes place in a time and place I haven't read about before. I bought the audiobook and thought it sounded like the perfect thing to listen to on my commute since the various mysteries surrounding Lily and her new life in Austin should keep me interested and engaged in the story. While this is somewhat true, I can't say that my time with The Butterfly Palace was completely entertaining.

I will say that I loved Lily's character. She goes through so much during this story but somehow keeps her wits about her and never loses sight of  who she really is or what she believes to be the right thing to do. She's a bright and positive character surrounded by a lot of negative and unlikable characters and I kept hoping she would end up safe and happy, whatever that would mean to her.

The descriptions of the Butterfly Palace were beautiful as well and I enjoyed any portions of the story that took place within its walls (both figuratively and literally!). The author did a wonderful job of bringing the settings to life - both the palace and surrounding Austin - and the narrator did much to bring this world alive as well. She had a very soothing voice and was wonderful to listen to as she described all the beautiful things surrounding Lily in her new home. She kept the pace interesting, however it was her voice that also did much to bring down my enjoyment of the story.

The narrator seemed to have the worst time modulating her voice between characters and situations....it was very one note! All the characters sounded pretty much the same and the narrator didn't do anything to change her voice to build up the tension when it was needed. She might state that one of the characters was shouting or angry but would then not shout or act angry herself.  This ended up pulling me out of the story somewhat as I kept noticing the difference between what she was reading and how she was reading it.

I also think there was just too much trying to be tackled here. We have the mystery of what really happened to Lily's father, the mystery of why her beau left her without warning and why he is acting so strange when she seeing him again in Austin, her difficulty trying to navigate her new life with the horrid owners of the Butterfly Palace, the serial killer going around killing servant woman and her attempts to figure out who it is and not get killed herself, the mystery surrounding who steals something from the Butterfly Palace and who might be trying to kill the man who owns the house, something that is tied into the politics occurring in Austin...it's just too much! I would have much preferred the author picking one or two mysteries to be solved or Lily's story mixed in with maybe one outside mystery. To top it off  most of the characters weren't that likeable so I didn't really care what happened to them anyways.

At the end of the day I can't say that I didn't enjoy the overall story. There were enough elements that kept me listening and going until the end and I was surprised by some of the resolutions of the many mysteries going on, which is always a plus. I would probably recommend that anyone interested in the story read it instead of listening to it, however, since much of my issue with the story stems from its narrator. Either way I would say that it was good enough that I would consider reading more from the author.

What Did I Think About the Cover?      

I absolutely love it! While the house isn't exactly what I would have envisioned after listening to the description within the story, it is as grand and opulent as described and would definitely want to make me read more about what hidden secrets are within its walls. The muted coloring also makes it feel older, which fits the time period given.

My Rating: 3.0/5.0 

I bought a copy of The Butterfly Palace for my own collection. To read  more reviews and find links to where can purchase a copy go to Goodreads HERE.

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