The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl

The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume 2 (Notebooks of John Loveheart, E) - Ishbelle Bee

[I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Like the first novel in this series, I had trouble rating this one. Some aspects I really found delightful, while others left me cold.

I loved the "mad" characters' narratives—Loveheart's and Heap's. The way they tell of the events from their point of view, their disjointed thoughts, the apparently random use of capital letters, how they go about killing or maiming while wishing for custard and pursuing so many different musings, all these quite nicely reflected the fact they were all but human. Heap made for a glorious villain, while Loveheart was his lovely psychopathic self. I couldn't help cheering for him, even though he was basically just as much a monster as his nemesis. Only he didn't kill on such a large scale. Or did he? With him, you can never tell.

I also liked seeing White and Walnut back in action. They made for a funny duo, from their fumbling steps with the cursed jewel that sent them to Wales, to how they always ended up in dire straits due to being somewhat silly. In other circumstances, I'd file them as Too Stupid To Live; however, the tone here being clearly humorous and tongue-in-cheek, it left room for that, and it was alright.

On the other hand, a lot of the other characters were either quickly dispatched or barely etched, and very little development happened in that regard (though Mrs Charm and her medieval horror novels were amusing—I'd definitely read those if they existed, I mean, come on, "The Cannibal Bishop of Edinburgh" is a winning title, isn't it?). I would've wanted Boo Boo, more specifically, to be more fleshed, as she was an intriguing girl, considering how and where she was brought up.

The action felt disjointed in some parts, which was fitting when it came to Loveheart, but caused the story to be stuck at times on killing and severed heads flying in the room, but little else. The ending dragged a little, too, the very last chapter opening towards a third novel, yet the ones in between taking maybe just wee bit too long to close up the remaining characters' storylines.

Overall, a somewhat over-the-top novel that manages to make light of dark situations, with a charming twist of language, even though its rhythm itself was uneven. 3.5 stars.