A dark and twisted Victorian melodrama, like Alice in Wonderland goes to Hell, from the author of The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath.
Two orphans, Pedrock and Boo Boo, are sent to live in the sinister village of Darkwound. There they meet and befriend the magical and dangerous Mr Loveheart and his neighbour, Professor Hummingbird, a recluse who collects rare butterflies. Little do they know that Professor Hummingbird has attracted the wrath of a demon named Mr Angelcakes.
One night, Mr Angelcakes visits Boo Boo and carves a butterfly onto her back. Boo Boo starts to metamorphose into a butterfly/human hybrid, and is kidnapped by Professor Hummingbird. When Mr Loveheart attempts to rescue her with the aid of Detective White and Constable Walnut, they too are turned into butterflies.
Caught between Professor Hummingbird and the demon Angelcakes, Loveheart finds himself entangled in a web much wider and darker than he could have imagined, and a plot that leads him right to the Prime Minister and even Queen Victoria herself …
You want a novel in which very nearly every single character is the mad hatter? A very generous sprinkling of utterances in all caps lock? Oh, and how about murder? Because you can have it. You can have a lot of murder.
Murders none of the characters seem very concerned by - not even our acquaintances from the previous book, detective White and constable Walnut. You'll also recognise Mr Loveheart.
(He has acquired a somewhat overweight cat.)
There are many hearts, and many butterflies, and a great many wives floating around in this tale.
I'll be honest with you - this kind of writing doesn't really do it for me. It's a lot of frills and not much else. I know there are plenty of people out there who'd absolutely love to read the kind of story I've described here, though.
There is kind of a plot - I mean, a sequence of events connected to each other and an ending - which makes this book, The contrary tale of the butterfly girl, superior to many other stories of the same ilk, but it's still not quite enough for those of us who just aren't pure style-readers.
I actually think this might be more enjoyable as an audio production, letting each of the (many) insane characters and their inner thoughts come to life with croaky voices, exaggerated accents, theatrical monologues, shouting, crying, and so on. A little music, you know, the "creepy carousel" kind of stuff. Echoing and "head sliced off with an axe"-sound effects and such.
I would like that better than I liked reading it, probably. I feel kind of bad that I don't have more enthusiasm to bring to the table, but, uh, preferences! They're personal and sometimes in the way of things.