Book Review: The Golden Butterfly by Sharon Gosling

“It wasn’t the Thames that was swallowing her up, but the thought of her own future. What would she do in that big old house for all those endless days except wait until someone wanted to marry her?”

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Click here for book blurb on Goodreads.

The Golden Butterfly is a magic trick, the one that magician Magnificent Marko was most famous for. When he dies, his granddaughter Luciana is lost. Her grandfather encouraged her sense of adventure, but her grandmother wants her to settle into a “safe” life in their big house and prepare for her future as a wife. Nothing could be more terrifying to Luciana than that future. She has only one friend her own age, Charley, but her grandmother is clear that they do not have a future together as he is from a different background, and the older they get, the more pronounced their differences will become.

Thursby, a truly vile man linked to the world of magic, comes to the house on the day of Marko’s funeral looking for something: he wants to know the secret to the Golden Butterfly trick, and he will stop at nothing to get it. Determined to preserve her grandfather’s legacy, Luciana resolves to find it first, setting her off on a dangerous adventure with Charley by her side. She meets people who cannot be trusted and others that hold secrets to her past. As the secrets are revealed, Luciana learns a lot about herself and her grandfather, and there are some real shocks which challenge everything she has ever known.

In this world, only men are allowed to become magicians. There are a lot of gender stereotypes but Luciana challenges them all: she is not going to be told she isn’t capable of great things just because she is a girl. I loved her determination to perform her grandfather’s trick despite the odds stacked against her. She is a brilliant and inspiring character and it was a joy to read her story.

The Golden Butterfly is a gripping mystery, with a hefty dose of feminist. It is quite dark for a middle grade read, but I really loved it and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a magic story.

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