Bad Moon Books is a small publisher of horror books that has put out many fine books over the last several years. While the publisher has published some works by easily recognized names in horror, such as Clive Barker, most of the books are by lesser known authors that are not recognized by many readers. That does not mean, however, that the stories are any less entertaining or the authors any less talented. In fact, some of the books published by Bad Moon Books show that small press works are superior to mainstream books that will sell a million copies. “Wings of the butterfly” by John Urbancik is one of these books.
To call “Wings of the butterfly” a werewolf story is overly simplistic but it does give the reader a starting point. The novella takes the reader into the world of lycanthropy as the reader is introduced to Erik, a werewolf, and his pack: Nicole and Garrett. Erik is the alpha male and leader of the pack as he is the strongest lycanthrope around. Garrett, who transforms into a rat, is reduced to little more than a servant by the powerful wolf and Nicole, a butterfly and beautiful in either form, is Erik’s mate not by choice but by force and is ignorant of any other way of life.
All of this could change, however, when a stranger named Lum comes to town and Erik immediately senses a threat. When Erik challenges the stranger, he is soundly beaten and he knows he must take action or risk losing his pack. But when Erik faces Lum a second time, Lum’s true nature is revealed. Lum is a dragon and Erik’s superior in one-on-one combat. Erik, defeated, retreats and leaves his pack behind.
Not knowing any other life, Nicole offers herself to Lum only to be refused. Lum gives her something that she has never known before: freedom. Nicole chooses to stay with Lum and travel the world. But Lum’s refusal to kill Erik could come back to haunt him and to what lengths will Nicole, the weak butterfly, go to avoid re-entering a life of servitude.
“Wings of the butterfly” is a fast-paced and action-packed story but it is also one with real heart. While the action sequences are violent and visceral, the reader grows a strong attachment to Nicole and feels her emotion as the story progresses. This novella will make the reader cheer and cringe but will never leave the reader bored. Urbancik handles the narrative with a deftness that is too often missing and creates a rich world in spite of the relative brevity of the tale. I would like to see the story, or at least the fictional world, expanded on and turned into novel form. In “Wings of the butterfly,” Urbancik has achieved a balance of emotion and action that pushes this novella to the pinnacle of the genre where it stands as one of the finest lycanthrope stories in recent years.