Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book Info: Genre: Alternate history/Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: People interested in actual vampire myths and legends
Disclosure: I received an e-book review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: "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.
“Kiss of the Butterfly” is based on true historical events. In the year of his death, 1476, the Prince of Wallachia – Vlad III (Dracula) – committed atrocities under the cloak of medieval Bosnia’s forested mountains, culminating in a bloody massacre in the mining town of Srebrenica. A little over 500 years later, in July 1995, history repeated itself when troops commanded by General Ratko Mladic entered Srebrenica and slaughtered nearly 8,000 people, making it the worst massacre Europe had seen since the Second World War. For most people, the two events seemed unconnected…
My Thoughts: Having been fascinated by vampires since I was in 4th grade, I was unable to resist the allure of a book that makes use of the actual legends and lore rather than just making stuff up (like sparkling). I was not disappointed – the research and details in this book were amazing, and it was a great story.
Probably my favorite part of the book was a short “interlude” section featuring the vampires finding themselves in the modern world and marveling at all they see. I think an entire book written just about this would be hilarious, personally. This little scene shows them discovering modern firearms.
“It’s strange craftsmanship... nothing I have ever seen before.... It’s engraved with the word Zastava and the year 1956.... Multiple cartridges... and they have attached the ball to a brass casing... and it loads through the breech. This means no more muzzle-loading, no more measuring out powder for every shot, no more ramming the charge home down the barrel, no more forgetting to remove the ram-rod before firing, no more problems keeping your powder dry. They can probably fire several shots a minute with this. An army with this weapon could rule the world!... We have truly met with good fortune: our meal is ... possessed of a superior weapon.”
If you, like me, enjoy reading about the legends and lore surrounding vampires, and enjoy a fascinating story that interweaves fact, fiction, and history into an intricate web of a story, then you won’t want to miss this terrific book – recommended!
Background on the Book: 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.
Meticulously researched, “Kiss of the Butterfly” weaves together intricate threads from the 15th, 18th and 20th centuries to create a rich phantasmagorical tapestry of allegory and reality. It is about divided loyalties, friendship and betrayal, virtue and innocence lost, obsession and devotion, desire and denial, the thirst for life and hunger for death, rebirth and salvation. “Kiss” blends history and the terrors of the Balkans as it explores dark corners of the soul.
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