The Black Butterfly by Shirley Reva Vernick
Penny is furious, and who can blame her? She has to spend Christmas break alone at the Black Butterfly, an old inn at the coldest, bleakest edge of America—the coast of Maine. This “vacation” is the brainchild of Penny’s flaky mother, who’s on the other side of the country hunting ghosts. Penny most definitely does not believe in spirits. Or love. Or family. Until, that is, she discovers two very real apparitions which only she can see…and meets George, the handsome son of the inn’s owner…and crashes into some staggering family secrets. If only Ghost Girl didn’t want Penny dead. If only George were the tiniest bit open to believing. If only she could tell her mother. Then maybe this could still be a vacation. But it’s not. It’s a race for her life, her first love, and her sanity.
Penny’s super-flaky mom is across the country on one of her ghost-hunting adventures. She’s supposed to be home in time for Christmas, but like many things with her mom, plans fall through and Penny finds out she’s being shipped off to spend the holidays at an inn owned by a former friend of the family. It’s bad enough she’s being sent away for Christmas, but to be forced to spend the holidays with total strangers in freezing cold Maine…Penny is not amused. But as she settles in at the Black Butterfly, she grows to find comfort in the warm kindness of the owner, in the amazing food her chef prepares, and in the company of George, the inn keeper’s cute son. The whole thing would seem like an ideal escape from her real life if it weren’t for the fact that Penny, a girl who is ardently closed-minded about ghosts, begin seeing apparitions of her own. And not all of them are friendly.
This was a cute book. Penny’s inner monologue is funny and while I sympathized with her regarding her life with a totally unreliable (albeit kind) mother, I liked that Penny could really take care of herself. She was strong and opinionated, and bold without being abrasive. The ghost story is intriguing without being too too scary (think Mediator series by Meg Cabot) and is interesting enough to carry the book forward and keep you turning the pages. One of my favorite things about The Black Butterfly was the cast of characters. I liked the conversations she had with the inn staff and, of course, with George. While the romance doesn’t reach super-swoony heights, there’s definitely potential there. As with many books, I felt the end tied up a little too perfectly, but I still liked it. Penny was in a good place, which is what I’d hoped for her.
Crush Intensity: 3.75-4.0 This was a good book. I think Vernick is a strong storyteller. I would definitely be happy to read more about Penny in the future.
Thank you to Shirley Vernick for asking me to read The Black Butterfly. Not only did she send me a copy of the book in exchange for a honest review, she was very patient about the length of time it took me to get this posted!