Innocent by day, killer by night: a dark, twisting thriller about a teen assassin’s attempt to live a normal life.
1 in stock (can be backordered)
Author Finn Longman Published by Simon & Schuster Children’s ISBN 9781398507340
– June 8, 2022
The book absolutely destroyed me – and I loved it for that (probably obvious from the five stars I gave it). A raw, visceral and angry portrayal of a traumatised teenager trying her best to escape an abusive system, The Butterfly Assassin is NOT one of those ‘sexy assassin takes out the baddies” adventures that runs on adrenaline highs and not thinking too much about consequences.
Don’t get me wrong, this story is absolutely a fast-paced, twisty and thrilling joy-ride through colourful dystopia packed with brilliantly drawn characters. But it’s also a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking yet ultimately hopeful exploration of child abuse, mental health, loneliness anger and (most importantly) friendship, that will certainly leave you reeling at times – but also makes you want to pour everyone involved a big mug of hot cocoa, wrap them in a blanket and tell them it will all be okay … even if maybe it won’t, for all of them.
Longman’s world-building is impeccable – the city of Espera is simultaneously familiar and dystopian, with things like school and a morning paper-rounds existing side-by-side with brutal assassin’s guild, colourful underground rebellions and medical experiments which sit just outside the realms of possibility right now (I hope) without ever stretching the credibility of the world Longman has created for their characters.
And speaking of characters, that’s where the story really sings. In less capable hands, Isabel Ryans – who makes a lot of bad choices (like trying to settle into a new life and then immediately killing someone in chapter 1) because those are the only type of choices she has – could come off unsympathetic, unlikeable or potentially plain evil. But Longman draws us deep into the head and heart of this messed-up, abused teenager – highlighting Isabel’s fear, loneliness, guilt and pain along with her almost giddy nervous excitement as she makes her first real friend (the gloriously drawn Emma, who steps in while Isabel is having a panic attack – and refuses to be pushed away after).
Where the violence, cruelty and betrayal in Isabel’s life hit hard throughout the book, the threads of kindness, loyalty and friendship push back – giving Isabel something to fight for (and live for) even when things seem at their bleakest.
If I’m honest, I’m still recovering from the twisty ending – but I’m also desperate for more. The Butterfly Assassin is the sort of book that only gets better the longer it sits in your heart – and no doubt gets hits harder & stronger with every re-read.
An absolutely stunning debut! Prepare your heart, then check it out
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