December 3, 2012

Review: Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon

Title: Kiss of the Butterfly
Author: James Lyon
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
James Lyon (July 22, 2012)
Get it: Amazon

"The smell of blood is in the air, I sense it even now. People thirst for it; the entire country is mad with desire for it. And now we are going to war with our brothers because they look like us, and because we can smell our blood coursing through their veins...” A mysterious letter starts a university student on a journey into the war-torn lands of rapidly disintegrating Yugoslavia. Naively trusting his enigmatic professor, the student unwittingly descends into a dystopian crucible of decay, destruction, passion, death, romance, lust, immorality, genocide, and forbidden knowledge promising immortality. As the journey grows ever more perilous, he realizes he must confront an ancient evil that has been once again loosed upon the earth: from medieval Bosnia to enlightenment-era Vienna, from the bright beaches of modern-day Southern California to the exotically dark cityscapes of Budapest and Belgrade, and horrors of Bosnia.

Vampires have formed an integral part of Balkan folklore for over a thousand years. "Kiss" represents a radical departure from popular vampire legend, based as it is on genuine Balkan folklore from as far back as the 14th century, not on pop culture or fantasy. "Kiss of the Butterfly" offers up the real, horrible creatures that existed long before Dracula and places them within a modern spectrum.


The story revolves around Steven, a university student who with the help of Professor Slatina, receives a scholarship from the Balkan Ethnography Trust so that he can get inside of war-torn Yugoslavia to finish his research for his dissertation. Professor Slatina, however, has Steven researching vampire lore, but there is more to it than what Professor Slatina is willing to admit to Steven. Steven's research not only puts himself but other people in danger. The government doesn't want him uncovering certain truths.

I have to admit that I dreaded writing this review. It's not that I hated the book, not at all, but it was very difficult for me to get into the story. I'd say I was probably half way through the book before it really became interesting. Under normal circumstances, I probably would have given up on trying to read it, if I hadn't agreed to review it.

The factual information that was woven into the story, I enjoyed that to some extent. For some reason though, I felt like I was reading a history book. There are a lot of hard to pronounce names (though granted, there was a small guide at the front of the book that helped with that) and a lot of historical dates offered up. I had a hard time following along at time.

Now, as I've said before, I'm no expert on punctuation and such, but I've read quite a lot in the last few years to feel as though there were quite a few errors in this book. Part of the reason I felt it was hard to get through the book was because of the way it was written. For example, instead of a character's unspoken thoughts being italicized, they had quotes around them as if they were spoken out loud. Occasionally there was a change in scene but no obvious break to let the reader know of the change, which would throw me off. And although this may seem odd to mention, colons were used way more in this book than I've ever seen used in one book before, and I don't believe it was always used correctly.

Having said all that, I do feel that Mr. Lyon has a great way with words. For me though, I suppose that there was just too much, and it interrupted the flow of the story. But I was rather fascinated by the vampire lore, and I really enjoyed the cast of characters that Steven met along the way.

** I received a ebook copy of Kiss of the Butterfly in exchange for a review.**

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  1. I’d like to thank Pamela for the review. ABC News mentioned Kiss of the Butterfly in a story on the recent vampire scare in Serbia and interviewed the author.

    It means a lot to me that Pamela stuck with reading Kiss of the Butterfly, even after getting bogged down in some of the slower scenes at the beginning, where the book lays the groundwork for the development of the main characters and sets the scene for the upcoming events. And this is precisely why Pamela’s review is important: because reading is a deeply personal activity, it is important that a reviewer clearly tells his/her readers what did and did not work for him/her. In this, Pamela did an excellent job, and readers of similar tastes will find the review helpful in deciding whether or not they wish to read Kiss of the Butterfly.

    I suspect that some of the things Pamela refers to as “errors” are in fact stylistic in nature, and not “errors” per se. I say this because prior to publishing Kiss of the Butterfly, it was proof-read and edited by: 1) two university literature professors; 2) four university history professors; 3) a professional editor at a major U.S. publishing house; 4) a well-known reporter from a major U.K. newspaper; 5) a published poet; and 6) a professional screen-play writer. In addition, several other friends also proof-read/edited it. Thus, Kiss of the Butterfly probably has fewer grammatical, punctuation or spelling errors than many popular books published by major publishing houses, especially the Dan Brown books and Twilight series. Pamela noted that Kiss of the Butterfly does not use italics when a person is thinking, as opposed to speaking. There is no grammatical rule on this and it is a matter of individual preference: some authors us italics, some authors don’t. Some readers prefer it, some don't.

    Once again, many thanks to Pamela for taking the time to read and review Kiss of the Butterfly. She has been a wonderful and gracious host to Kiss of the Butterfly as it has fluttered through the blogosphere.



  2. Hi Pamela,

    Thanks for a candid and honest review of this book.

    I also have a copy in exchange for a review, although it hasn't quite made it to the top of my reading list yet.

    I too would have been a little confused by characters unspoken thoughts being placed in speech quotes, so I am pleased that James took the time to leave a comment outlining his thinking on the choice of presentation, now I shall be ready for it when I start reading.

    It sounds as though, overall, you quite enjoyed 'Kiss ...'