**3.5-stars rounded up**
Tinfoil Butterfly is strange, heartbreaking, and beautiful.
Meshing real life horrors with subtle fantastical elements, there’s a lot to unpack for such a short novel.
Emma is hitchhiking across the United States, trying to reach the Badlands of South Dakota.
Along the way she gets picked up by a man named, Lowell. It doesn’t end well.
Fleeing for her life, Emma comes across an abandoned diner where she seeks refuge from an oncoming storm.
This is where she meets, Earl, a little boy whose face is hidden behind an odd tinfoil mask.
Earl ends up stealing Emma’s loaded gun and implores her to help him get rid of George.
Emma is stranded. Earl is her only contact and she gets pulled into his bizarre and dangerous world as the snow begins to fall.
This entire novel is steeped in an ominous atmosphere. As the reader, you go along with Emma as she tries to drag information out of Earl.
It turns out, he has lived a torturous life, the truth is hiding just under the surface, but you can’t quite get to it. Regardless of the past, Earl is scared to leave it behind.
Earl isn’t the only one with a dark past. Emma is on the run from her own. Damaged and broken, she is forced, while in the clutches of a crisis, to revisit each painful moment of it.
The truth of Emma’s past is admittedly difficult to read. Trigger warnings for: (view spoiler)[taboo sexual relationship, drug and alcohol addiction, self harm, suicidal ideation, suicide and death of a loved one (hide spoiler)].
I loved the bond formed by Emma and Earl.
I though the evolution of that relationship over the course of the story was very special. It brought the humanity of the characters to life in a way that filled my heart with empathy for them both.
Paired with the beauty of their relationship, however, is equal amounts of horror. We’re talking horrific, realistic, painful content.
There were times I felt sick to my stomach, but honestly, the story is worth it.
The feelings of violence and fear boiling just under the surface really never let up, making this a tense read.
With this being said, it also feels quiet and subtle at times. I have no idea if I am explaining this accurately.
It’s almost something that you just need to experience for yourself.
I do recommend this for people who enjoy darker contemporary stories, or slow burns with equal parts violence and beauty.
You know who you are. Pick it up!