Dance of the Butterfly is an urban fantasy a genre where magic and mysticism exist in a world not unlike our own.
The story is set in an unnamed Central European city; it feels real and grimy. Although painted in broad brush strokes I thought the city was as much a character as the humans who live on its crime riddled streets. It felt to me that danger lurked around every corner. If not overtly hostile the city is certainly unsympathetic. It reminds a little of the city in the movie Sin City. In short, the perfect location for this tale.
The author has populated his novel with some wonderfully well drawn characters. It took me some time to like Skot; he seemed a little aloof and distant at the start but I really warmed to him in the end.
Lilja on the other hand was an instantly likable- she is smart, moral, witty and she knows how to change spark plugs on an older model BMW. She has both a certain confidence and a vulnerability.
There is a wide supporting cast of characters all of whom are well drawn and have depth – Gnegon, Ernst and of course the Vigilante all have certain characteristics that made me want to spend time with them. I really enjoyed Therese, her sub adventure had my heart pounding (she reminds me a little of Lisbeth Salander while still being totally herself).
In terms of writing style the book is extremely well written, sometimes a little wordy in places in a way that suits the story. The novel feels very “European” it’s hard to say why but in places I was reminded a lot of Stieg Larsson; particularly in the non fantasy elements.
Scott Carruba’s style is to write in the present tense and to swap character point of view within scenes. This works incredibly well as it creates a real sense of tension within interactions. This head swapping is skilfully done and as a reader I was never confused as to which character I was living the story through
Although a fantasy novel with dark magic at its core, the majority of the book reads like a straight thriller/crime story – there is murder, corruption and human trafficking lurking in and around the city. This makes for a story that will appeal to wide reader base and not leave anyone disappointed.
Downsides? I kind of worked out who the Vigilante was quite early on, but the book did throw enough curveballs to keep my certainty in check.
There is a romantic subplot that takes a while to evolve. Although it has a BDSM theme, it’s more erotica in my opinion (not that I have read much of either...honest!). If you think this may put you off, don’t panic, you’ll be fine. It serves the plot, fits the characters and...is rather good.
In summary, I enjoyed this book immensely. I loved the writing style, the multiple story lines, the location and the characters.