Friday, December 1, 2017

ARC Review: Nobody's Butterfly by Claire Davis & Al Stewart

Nobody's Butterfly
Cobweb ghosts are so inconvenient—especially grumpy ones with bad breath. Don’t they know silence is golden?

Johnny Strong is the expert; he hasn’t spoken in two years. Not one word to anyone except the ghost. The main purpose of life is to avoid people and not get noticed. Friends? He doesn’t need them; and certainly nobody wants him despite what the ghost says.

Until a new boy appears at Windybank—Finn Lyons, teenage wizard. He eats frogs, concocts potions, and is always hungry. Not only does Finn stand up for Johnny; he actively seeks his company and soon becomes part of life.
First love; family and words; a heady mix to go in the potion but how will it all turn out?

Hubble bubble; Johnny Strong’s in trouble! Silence is not always golden in this sweet, zany story of the purest magic at Christmas.

Todd's rating:

This short novella was chock full of every bit of the fun, quirky goodness that I've come to expect from Claire and Al's collaborations.

As the story began, it was immediately apparent that Johnny had suffered great loss, as he hadn't spoken a single word to anyone at Windybank in the two years since he'd arrived. Well, anyone other than the ghost that lived in a cobweb outside of his room, that is.

Then we met Finn, who blew in like a force of freaking nature, with his claim that Johnny was a seeker and Finn came after hearing Johnny's call. Because he's Johnny's own personal wizard, after all. And unlike everyone else, he actually heard what Johnny was thinking, without a single word uttered, so he had to be magical, right?

I absolutely loved the easy camaraderie between Johnny and Finn, after Finn had insinuated himself into Johnny's life, much to Johnny's initial horror.

However, this story wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, as the pair began to bond, then transform their easy friendship into something 'more'.

Johnny's loneliness and isolation were evident on every single page, as was the fact that Finn's past had included confinement and starvation. Finn seriously never stopped eating and hoarded food under his bed, like regular feedings would stop on a moment's notice.

In spite of those darker elements, I found this story to be an absolute delight, as Johnny finally began to overcome his fear of abandonment, and Finn at last had a true friend in his corner, fighting for him, where others had previously failed him so miserably.

I realize that this was part of the mystery and charm of the story, but when I finally got to the last page, I was still left with so many questions that I *really* wanted answered.

Such as...
- If the ghost wasn't real, how did it know details to which even Johnny himself wasn't privy?

- If Finn wasn't magical, how could he know with such precision exactly what Johnny was thinking, while not saying a word?

- What happened to Johnny's *entire* family?

- Why were Greg and Anna okay with their budding relationship, as it was clearly against the house rules?

- Did the ghost ever speak to Johnny again, after the original cobweb was blown away?
GAH! I'm a complete sucker for actually *knowing* everything when all is said and done, so those open-ended details nearly made me mental.

I'd rate this one at around 4.25 stars and highly recommend it to fans of Al and Claire's previous fantastical tales.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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