Lo (short for Penelope) collects things, well everything actually. Is started as a hobby, it became an obsession. Ever since she couldn’t save Oren. Shouldn’t have thought about him! Can’t breathe. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, banana, banana, banana. Better. But she can make it right, maybe. She finally found something important. A butterfly necklace that belonged to a dead girl named Sapphire. A girl killed when she was moments away. It has to mean something. The girl that was killed was also deemed damaged and unimportant, as was her runaway brother, as is Flynt the young man that lives in the shadows of the streets and tells her she’s beautiful. Now she can’t stop thinking about Sapphire and has to find out who killed her. But this obsession could prove fatal.
This book made my brain itch. It is a strange, dark, and twisty thriller. Lo is a unique voice, because she is very disturbed and using Obsessive and Compulsive tics to try to push away her pain and sadness. Not the Nancy Drew type, clearly. But that’s what makes the mystery so thrilling. Lo is drawn to venture into in underworld of Neverland (the homeless kid shanty town) and Sapphire’s dark past, because she knows what it’s like to feel discarded and deemed a freak. Also her obsessive nature means she notices things other people don’t, but fortunately it isn’t turned into gimmicky gift ability either. Ellison does a great job at getting into Lo’s scary psyche. Her ticks and obsessions and overwhelming anxiety are very compelling and got deep under my skin. That underlying unease and tension elevated the murder mystery element and made me feel that the danger was real and palpable in a way most thrillers never do. I kept worrying for Lo in every dark corner she went down and jumping at every shadow with her. I won’t say I enjoyed being in Lo’s mind, but I certainly was affected by it. That’s hard to do for someone that reads as many books as I do! The central mystery is complicated by the slow reveal of what happened to Lo’s brother and by the developing relationship with Flynt. Which means Butterfly Clues is always working on multiple levels at the same time. This book won me over in spite of myself and I found myself caring about Lo even as she drove me crazy. If you like dark lit like Ellen Hopkins and want a creepy mystery with a twisted twist, definitely grab this one.
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