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Review: Butterfly Skin

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Butterfly Skin


Butterfly Skin by Sergey Kuznetsov is not your typical murder mystery. This graphic thriller coming out in September from Titan Books is a psychological look into the seedier side of the Russian social grid and the beasts who lurk in its dark shadows.

Set in present-day Moscow, this is an emotional tale following a series of grisly murders plaguing young women in the city. Aspiring online news editor Ksenia is determined to solve the mystery and help capture the monster. But her personal obsession following the macabre nature of the carnal crimes soon turns the investigation into a twisted cat and mouse game.

The emotional awareness of the characters will draw the reader’s in from the start, but it is the creepy insight from the perverse mind of the killer that sets this book apart from anything else out there. A short chapter describing the four season calendar of the killer and how the elements help accentuate the killing experience is a disturbing example of the poetic voice that seeps from the character.

“It is good to kill in the winter. Especially if it has snowed overnight, and the ground is covered with a delicate blanket of white. You put the bound naked body…”

Winter, spring, summer and autumn are all theatrical stages with explicit imagery of the gruesome violence and the graphic detail that takes place. It is this type of writing style that makes the book just as difficult to put down as it is uncomfortable to read.

The character Ksenia sets up a website with the sole purpose of drawing the suspect in. This is a creative trap that represents the current lifestyle of today’s social participants. But this is also a modern platform that allows author Kuznetsov to develop an artistic style of prose using the growing dialect of social networking. Through e-mails, tweets and blog posts, the reader is allowed to sift through the language driving today’s human condition making the story and characters more believable.

The unique style of macabre imagery in Butterfly Skin is eye opening and explains why the work of author Sergey Kuznetsov has produced such a cult following in Russia. Though this is not your typical murder mystery and will most likely appeal to an exclusive audience, the book is sure to gain momentum globally and evolve from a cult phenomenon to a classic piece of literature.