Wings of The Butterfly
John Urbancik

Bad Moon Books
Softcover Chapbook $15.00
Scheduled shipment: March 2007
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook

In this genre it’s hard to find someone who so consistently writes with his readers in mind like John Urbancik.  As an author, he seems to know exactly what his fans expect of him, each and every time.  This consistency is proven, yet again, in his latest novella release from Bad Moon Books, Wings of The Butterfly.

Wings of The Butterfly tells the story of a dysfunctional were-pack: Eric, a vicious wolf creature who brutally lords over his dwindling pack; Garrett, the conniving were-rat; and Nicole, a fragile were-butterfly – a creature that perfectly mirrors her timid personality.  This seems like a simple enough tale of dissatisfied lycanthropes running amuck in the big city, but when a stranger insinuates himself into the threesome’s brittle and violent relationship the pack must decide where their allegiance stands- their cruel leader, or Lum, the serene newcomer.  Nicole’s inability to break away from her abusive relationship with Eric, her search for the inner strength to escape to freedom, quickly becomes the focal point, as the mysterious appearance of Lum brings her emotional crisis to a boil.  How she resolves the lack of control over her own existence is the meat of the story, and in some ways, Lum really becomes nothing more than a lever to pry her from the apathetic life that she leads.  Given a chance at freedom and unconditional love, Nicole must find the strength to snatch them for her own.

The story is in the characters’ ability to change themselves- not their ability to change shape.  If anything, that seemingly fantastic power inhibits them all to some degree or other, and causes more problems than solutions.  And some ways the story is really more a metaphor for abuse than werewolves.  Much to this reviewer’s delight, Urbancik seems to also understand that horror must speak on different levels, not merely a platform to provide frisson and titillation.

For such a short novella length, less than 20K words, Urbancik manages to throw enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing how it will end.  A red herring here and there doesn’t hurt, either.  Urbancik delivers a great read, populated by believable, emotive characters and some tight, solid prose.  The editing is sparse, the tale not unlike a tone poem – folklore brought into a contemporary setting.

If I have any complaint about Wings of The Butterfly it would be the length.  I wanted more; I wanted to know what happens to Nicole.  But, then again, that’s just a validation that Mr. Urbancik knows how to weave a tale that leaves you wanting more.

[tags]Hellnotes book review, Wings of The Butterfly, John Urbancik[/tags]

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