When you finished reading Rene Denfeld’s last novel, The Child Finder, you were left wanting more. After all, the story’s lead character Naomi, the child finder herself, may have found the missing child she had been looking for, but she herself was far from complete. You wanted to know more about her story, and wanted her to find out not only who she was, but what had happened to her sister. Denfeld’s latest novel comes out two years after The Child Finder, and with it you get to delve deeper into Naomi’s story.
The Butterfly Girl very quickly brings you back into Naomi’s world, and you find her right where The Child Finder left off. As she’d promised at the end of that novel, she hasn’t taken another case as she hunts for answers into her sister’s disappearance, and tries to discover who kidnapped the both of them many years ago. Her quest takes her to Portland, Oregon, where she finds homeless children living on the streets, scavenging for food and money as they fight to survive. Naomi also finds out that the children have been disappearing from the streets without a trace for months, with many of them appearing later on floating in the river. She doesn’t want to get involved because it will take her away from her quest to find her sister, but she has a hard time turning away from the children in need. Especially Celia, a young runaway she befriends as she searches for the truth. Naomi doesn’t want to turn her back on her sister, nor does she want to ignore Celia’s tragedy either, but she doesn’t know if she can work both cases at the same time, especially when a breakthrough could be right around the corner for finding her sister.
The Butterfly Girl is a page turner. Once you start it, you really won’t want to put it down. Denfeld paces her story in such a way that every chapter reveals a new piece of the puzzle. Her characters are so compelling that you feel draw into their lives, and don’t want to stop learning more about them. The novel is definitely a mystery, but the tragedy in the main characters’ lives is so strong that the genre could even be defined as a drama. The chapters flip back and forth between Naomi and Celia’s stories, yet unlike other novels that are written in this way, you never once find yourself wishing that you were reading the other character’s story instead. Denfeld’s style is very lyrical in nature, which helps the story flow along naturally, and keeps the characters grounded and real.
If you are looking for a novel that is equal parts thriller and mystery and has strong characters, The Butterfly Girl is for you. You don’t necessarily need to read The Child Finder first, but it is a good introduction to the main character, and the two novels flow nicely into one another. Whatever you do though, make sure you have time to read this novel, because once you begin, you won’t want to put it down.