Killing the Butterfly, a Pulse-Pounding Psychological Thriller by Dale Ward

The Bottom Line: A pulse-pounding dark psychological thriller that will awaken your inner survivalist.

In sessions with her school counselor, Patty, a teenager, describes a monster who comes to her at night. He seems so real that she can smell his sweat. “These are real to you,” the naive counselor explains, “But even you call them dreams or visions or nightmares.” Author Dale Ward needn’t give Patty any imaginary demons. Everyone in the real world is demonic enough.

Killing the Butterfly is so filled with so many human tragedies that any one of them might spell the end of sanity. Patty endures not one, but two abusive, alcoholic parents, both of whom meet tragic endings. By the time she ends up living with her Aunt Merideth, who seems somewhat normal, she’s already developed an unnerving magnetism that attracts psychotic abusers.

Told in a non-linear timeline, Dale Ward’s novel is something of an endurance test for young Patty. Never feeling quite at home, she’s natural prey for Roy, her lab partner. She also falls easily for William, who possesses hidden potential for evil. To say more about how their lives intertwine would be to spoil the fun, but the trailer for a screen adaptation of Killing the Butterfly will certainly involve one of Patty’s friends exclaiming, “I can’t believe they’re together. I can’t believe they found us.” 

Ward’s characters and their day-to-day terrors are vivid and real. Think the prospect of a lost staple gun can’t create suspense? Think again. Along the way, Ward takes us on a harrowing journey leading to a secluded cabin and plenty of creepy shenanigans in the woods. Readers will have fun puzzling together the book’s various timelines, which pay off at multiple points throughout the book. 

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