The Butterfly Crest (The Protogenoi Series #1)
by Eva Vanrell.
Elena grows up in Japan with two loving parents, until a tragic car accident takes them both from her. Raised by her mother’s best friend in New Orleans, Elena finds herself years later in a job she hates with no love life to speak of. Then out of the blue she gets a letter from a bank in Japan about an inheritance from her mother that no one knows anything about. What she finds in Japan is a curse- and it changes everything she thought she knew about her family and reality. Because there is a war raging between the gods, and she is now smack in the middle of it.
This is the latest twist on the ‘all the stories are real’ theme, except in this case the stories in question are the mythologies from around the world and across time. This book’s motto would be more like ‘all the gods are real.’ Which is a pretty cool premise, to a mythology buff like me. And in some ways, it delivered. It introduced me to some mythology I wasn’t as familiar with (mainly Japanese), while feeding my love for good old Greek and Celtic myths. The author put her own twist on things, too, which I enjoyed- particular the structure of the Underworld, where all of these pantheons intermingle. And I like how she interpreted the modern incarnations of different gods.
Unfortunately, in the beginning of the book, the author fell victim to sight-seeing instead of storytelling. Elena spends several days touring attractions in Japan before the meeting where she gets her inheritance (i.e. where the plot actually starts). And those sights are covered in detail. And if I was reading a tour guide about Japan, that would be fine. But this is a novel, and nothing else really happens for that whole section. If I’m being generous, it sort of sets up some character stuff, but that could easily have been done a different way. There are smaller instances of this throughout the book (the author has a tendency to minutely detail everyone’s hair and outfit), but the beginning leg in Japan was by far the biggest chunk of it, and the hardest part of the book to get through for me.
On the flip side, the section spent at the Fae court was awesome. The author managed to stay true to general tenets of Fae lore, while putting her own angle on it to serve her story. And it worked. She captured the alluring yet treacherous nature of the Fae perfectly, and that section was riveting to read.
You’ll notice I haven’t said much about the characters. They were… fine. Neither horribly done, nor particularly memorable. They served more as a vehicle for the plot than the other way around. Elena was, again, fine. She didn’t bore me, but I wouldn’t consider her a great character either. Probably the most interesting/entertaining characters in the book were Gavin and Galen, a set of twins she meets, just for their banter. The love story plotline was predictable but not unenjoyable. This is a book you read because it’s a new mix of different familiar ideas, not because of great characters.
I was surprised by certain events at the end of the book, and I’m still not quite sure how/why one of them happened, or what that means for the war. I may just have to pick up book 2 to find out.
If you are a fellow mythology buff, this is worth checking out for fun. Just don’t expect to be blown away.