It took me longer than I expected to read The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill. I had trouble getting into it and then I had trouble finishing it. I'm also having trouble finishing the review. This is my third and hopefully final attempt.
The Butterfly Cabinet is a novel based on a true crime in Ireland from the late 1800's. A child is locked in a closet as a punishment and dies. Her mother is sentenced to prison for murder. The basic plot intrigued me immediately.
The novel alternates between two narrators--the mother's prison journal and the house maid's recollections to the granddaughter of the murderer, neither of which I particularly cared much for.
The author uses language to her benefit. She has a lovely way of describing the situation and excels at exposing the secrets, fears, and thoughts of two very different women. There are multiple sentences so lyrical that I had to stop and read them again. The prose is delicate and kind while revealing the darker parts of a person's life.
The novel delves deeply into the themes of motherhood and marriage. There is much to think about regarding a mother's love and the line between abuse and punishment.
However, this novel was less than enthralling for me. The suspense fell flat and I was disappointed by the ending that didn't seem to fully fit with the mother's earlier persona and actions.
I received a free copy of this novel from the publishers in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.