Every story has been told before, and all songs have been previously sung. In my opinion, it isn’t a travesty to witness motifs and structures in a novel that have been explored elsewhere, because of these facts. Quite simply put, it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to create a completely original story. However, the true mark of the storyteller is to breathe life into those dusty paradigms and capture the attention of a jaded reader. Chanda Hahn’s The Iron Butterfly does just that, and more.
Right away, I was sucked into the book. There’s a girl in a prison, being tortured and having experiments done on her along with fellow prisoners. The anguish, confusion, and fear she feels are palpable – and you instantly have many questions. How did she get here? What is the torture for? Who could she be? Soon after the evil is established, the action begins and sets into motion a series of events that adds layers of complexity to the story. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t overly complicated or incredibly amazing in its ability to baffle you, but there is certainly enough there to invoke interest and keep the pages turning.
The basic elements of a story involve a girl who has forgotten her past struggling to overcome the terrors she witnessed at the hands of The Raven. She is brought to live and eventually study with an elf-like race of people, known as the Denai. Through the course of her studies, old acquaintances show up, along with new friends and enemies. She must come to terms with what she is uncovering about her past, while staying alive.
As this is a young adult book (in my opinion), there of course is the exploration of fledgling love, confused emotions, and a tendancy to act impulsively. At times, the main character seems like a real bitch, but I found it reasonable and still liked her. Her indignant manner towards certain people, along with almost idiotic stubbornness is mean to protect herself, and others, from a past she can’t remember and powers she fears are rooted in evil.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, and quickly gobbled up the second in the series (The Steele Wolf). If you like YA fiction with a good story and a fresh look at the fantasy world, you’ll like Hahn’s book. I had no trouble identifying with the characters, and their emotional complexity was pleasing and frustrating at the same time.