Butterfly In Amber (Spotless #4)
By Camilla Monk
Originally Published May 12th, 2017
Singular POV, First Person
It's taken me a little while to come to terms with the emotional rollercoaster that is Butterfly In Amber, but I think I now have my thoughts in order.
I HAVE SINCE DONE A REREAD AND WHILE I INITIALLY RATED IT THREE STARS, I NOW BUMPED IT UP TO FOUR. THE BELOW REVIEW WAS MY THREE STAR, REVIEW.
Three stars, Caitlyn? After you have done nothing but rave about this series? After giving all the other books five stars?
The short answer, yes. I stand by my three-star rating for purely personal reasons. Reasons I will get to in a minute.
Butterfly In Amber was twisty, explosive, and heart-wrenching. As much action--if not more--than its predecessors, it had so much going for it.
We begin a few months after the crazy ending of book three. Island is in the clutches of the man who is the cause of so much death, pain, and strife in the world and most certainly in Island's life. It's difficult to explain how utterly emotional and heartbreaking the first part of this book is without spoilers, so I will suffice it to say that I was near tears most of the time reading. In the best of ways. This book shoves its claws into your chest and rips out your heart in ways that kind of violence can be good--but, the issue I had with this marvelous "series finale" is it never gives me back my heart, it never sews me up and makes me feel whole again.
The best way for me to tell you what I mean without spoilers is to warn you that people die in this book. Yes, it's a series about assassins, and people die in every book, but PEOPLE DIE. And it's horrible and it isn't a good death, and there is absolutely no resolution to how the reader or even the other characters should feel about the death. One of my favorite things about Monk's writing is her ability to wind humor throughout to lessen the blows, lighten the dark themes that are woven into this series. Spotless is about redemption and love and adventure, I never wanted it to hurt me and then kick me again and again while I was still down. That's what it felt like reading the final 20% of this book. The humor felt wrong, a lacking attempt to try and make fun of death and sadness, but it fell flat and only made the surviving characters come off as uncaring and tacky. Something their previous development would never have allowed. The ending felt rushed and incomplete. The aching slow-burn romance of this series finally peaks in this book, but the timing is wrong and it upset me that Monk would throw spice at us right on the tails of violence and heartbreaking loss. I guess it all came down to the pacing, and it was off to me.
My investment in these characters and this series as a whole was ultimately my downfall in this book. It was missing those key elements that I'd come to love from Monk's writing due to a darker story that never really balanced the Spotless elements well. This was supposed to be the final book in the series, and yet, I am glad she decided to write one more book because there is so much left open-ended, so many fraying emotional strings still needing to be tied off. I think I'll get that in Island Chaptal and the Ancient Aliens' Treasure, book five. At least, I hope I do.
All in all, while the writing is as spotless as the series title, Butterfly in Amber started off strong for me but ended up hurting in the end, with no balm to help the wounds left over. It does technically have a "happily-ever-after" ending, but I expected more resolutions and redemptions than what Monk gave me. Yes, this series is still an all-time favorite. Yes, I will eventually reread this book and probably end up changing my star rating, but after my first read, this is how I feel. And my heart is still sore.