Reviewed by Melanie Kline

The events begin when Maddie McGlade, a former nanny now in her nineties, receives a letter from the last of her charges and realizes that the time has come to unburden herself of a secret she has kept for over seventy years: what really happened on the last day in the life of Charlotte Ormond, the four-year-old only daughter of the big house where Maddie was employed as a young woman. It is to Charlotte’s would-be niece, Anna – pregnant with her first – that Maddie will tell her story as she near the end of her life in a lonely nursing home in Northern Ireland.”

The Butterfly Cabinet sounded dramatic and interesting, but was very much not. Over half way through the book, I still had no idea what really happened. The story not only alternated between the 1890’s and the 1960’s, it also flipped back and forth within the years, keeping me completely confused. The very moment I started to understand what Harriet, Charlotte’s mother, was describing from her jail cell journal in April 1892, the story flipped to Maddie discussing Anna’s pregnancy with her over a hundred years later in October 1968. It then switched to Maddie describing an incident to Anna from 1892 where Harriet reprimanded Maddie for something she had done and back to Harriet’s jail cell journal again.

I found the story to be completely lifeless and boring on top of being utterly baffling. The fact that it was written in Irish dialect of the 1890’s only served to further distance me from the true meaning of the tale.

I would recommend The Butterfly Cabinet only to those who enjoy reading Irish historical novels as I just couldn’t keep up. This is definitely not fun reading for the average person.

Rating: 0.5/5

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Free Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.