Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sandra R. Campbell; "Butterfly Harvest"

Butterfly Harvest is admittedly not my cup of tea. It’s just not the kind of story I actively seek to read. BUT, I did read it, and I don’t have awful things to say about it.

The first thing that struck me, seeing that I am always looking at the whole package of a published book, was the cover. The design could have been distilled down to just the butterfly with the soft diffused glow on a black background with the title and it would have sufficed. There just seemed to be too many elements in the picture, the faded silhouette, the soft hit of a skeletal structure, the forest background, the foreground trees… I dunno… a little editing wouldn’t have hurt.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this book. Here are the positive points: It’s well written. The author is a good writer. The text is stunningly edited and it’s a clean, professional looking book. I didn’t find too many errors to halt my eye as I read. I was also compelled to read forward, even though the story itself wasn’t exactly the sort of thing I devour on a daily basis.

The story is about sixteen-year-old misfit Seanna. A product of a dysfunctional home, Seanna has a hard time fitting in with life. She spends time rescuing animals, skipping school to day-dream and avoiding her less-than-stellar life with her food-addicted mother, alcoholic and abusive father and slightly slutty sister. In a moment of crisis during a violent encounter with her abusive father, a handsome, powerfully attractive figure comes to her aid. The fellow named Samuel manages to insinuate himself into her life, and in doing so, turns it into a surreal succession of catastrophes. She seems powerless against this creature, and as those around her fall, she seems further and further enmeshed in this bleak destiny at the side of this mysterious Samuel.

The story was a little all over the place. There were SO many characters that came and went it was hard to keep track of who was who and how they were significant to the story. There was also the fact that frankly, the heroine of this book is really not very likable. She is weak-willed, harsh and horrid about her mother's food addiction, self-absorbed and lacking some depth as a character. There were people who were crucial to the plot who I learned very little about, and some relationships that were suddenly remarkably close despite there being very little to motivate them to be so. The book seemed more like a framework rather than a completed work. The book could benefit from the author sitting down to pad it out some more with more descriptive writing, paring down her characters a bit, adding depth to those she does keep, and adding in some flesh around the bones of the characters' relationships.

In the end, it was still a really readable novel. For those who read King and Koontz, this thing might be right up their alley. I give this book a solid 4 medallions—I won’t dock it medallions just because I’m not a fan of thrillers/horrors. For a piece of independent work, it’s a professional, excellently presented package, and I recommend it to the fans of eerie books.

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0557584671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0557584673