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2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: The Butterfly King by Edmond Manning

The Butterfly King (The Lost and Founds 3) by Edmond Manning
Gay Contemporary Romance
Series: The Lost and Founds
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Pickwick Ink Press; 1st edition (September 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 098909796X
ISBN-13: 978-0989097963
Amazon: The Butterfly King (The Lost and Founds 3)
Amazon Kindle: The Butterfly King (The Lost and Founds 3)

Terrance Altham doesn’t know why he’s been arrested. He’s committed no crime and the cops aren’t talking. Sadly, the man sharing his holding cell talks too much. Known only as Ghost, he is a young grifter, apparently familiar enough with this police station to convince Terrance a break out is possible, and pushy enough to leave Terrance no choice but to follow Ghost into the underbelly of New York City. Terrified by the unjust imprisonment and the possibility of a life behind bars, Terrance searches for proof of his innocence while Ghost seeks the elusive Butterfly King. But neither man seems in control of the weekend’s direction and the consequences of mistakes are life-changing. As Ghost’s manipulations come to an explosive head, each man must decide amid danger and street violence what kind of man will triumph, lost or found? Narrator Vin Vanbly (a.k.a Ghost) returns in the most revealing King Weekend yet, where he faces the dark side of his dangerous manipulations, and learns missteps can be deadly. Vin must confront sinister dealings from his past—and a future promising disaster—as he waltzes Terrance across Manhattan in spring, searching for the elusive and charismatic, Butterfly King.


The third book is as good as the first two of the series. Edmond Manning is managing well to keep up the quality. He also avoids repeating himself. I love the economy of the writing, New York comes out alive from the book, but without long and useless descriptions. The language once more plays an important role, but it is never an end in itself. Vin is younger here, more full of doubts about what he is doing, still... it is the Vin we came to love through the other two books. I cannot not love him, his deep humanity, and the way he managed to leave his troubled past behind him or at least not to let this past control him. Terrance is black. It is a just a coincidence that this release comes just now, after Ferguson, because the book was roughly plotted in 2010, as Edmond writes in the heartfelt «Author's Note». On the other side it is not a coincidence that the racism issue is addressed in the book, because it is a permanent feature of society (not only US society), which flares up now and then. Please notice that the issue is there, but this is not a preachy book.

What a beautifully, heart-breaking, thrilling, and moving love story that does not end in the way one would expect, but has such a gripping, and perfect ending for the characters of Vin and Terrance that even though I re-read the last few chapters repeatedly hoping against hope that perhaps I would get that ending I wanted, because of how both Vin and Terrance helped each other grow, develop, heal, and learn to love, to truly love, I couldn't find it in myself to be unsatisfied at all or disappointed too much (though, I really wanted the HEA not the HFN or rather the TBC that I received). And while I haven't read the previous books in this series, I didn't feel lost or confused, as a matter of fact I was so enthralled by the story of this Lost King, Vin, trying to help a Found King, Terrance, crossover and become a true king but discovering truths about himself with the help of Terrance, with the love of Terrance, that by the time the book was over I'd realized that I'd read the book in a day. The setting was so artfully described by Mr. Manning that I could hear the screeching of the rats, taste the beer, and see every amazing sight, every minute detail intricately and magnificently conveyed with the mellifluous, graceful, yet strong style of Mr. Manning' talent. I am thoroughly hooked on this series now and went back to not only buy the other books in the series, but I read the excerpt provided in the link at the back of the book. And while I did not cry throughout the telling of this story, the Author's Note at the end, coupled with the dedication and these passages: he’s still a man, subject to the arrows and heartaches of men everywhere. That I understand. Being a gay man—I relate to those issues as well. But existing as a black man in a white-centric culture, he brings unique heartaches which I may never fully comprehend, despite my best intentions. “You call it black history and don’t you see how that distances us, acting like this was our private moment, when in fact, you were there. You were there. It’s our history. Our fucking history together.” "One day a woman came over and told me how impressed she was with my reading, my stack of books. She gushed over me. I loved it. I thought she could see something in me, special. That night, when I told mom about it, bragging about myself, she asked if the lady was white. I told her, yes. I was shocked my mother would guess that. I knew there were black people and white people and other colors, too, but I didn’t know what that meant. My mom explained the lady wasn’t impressed, she was surprised. She was surprised to see a young black boy reading so ravenously..." -made me choke up. Because it was the acknowledgment of it, things I have experienced, thoughts I have had but not wanted or been able to express because I AM a gay, black man and people are uncomfortable when these wounds are ripped open and revealed for all to see, it was the sympathy and the compassion by someone who can only imagine what it means to be a "bronze man", a black man, in this time, in this country that brought tears to my eyes. And for that I wish I could've given higher than the 40/40 because it gave the plot a deeper depth of realism and emotion than previously existed.

Please note that I have not read the other King books in this series. I found this entry read just fine as a standalone and the author did a great job of easing the reader into Vin's world and the world of the Lost and Found Kings. This is a work of fantastic originality that hits the ground running with the jailing of the protagonist Terrance for a crime he did not commit. The fact that his cellmate Ghost is clearly playing some kind of long con with Terrance hooked me immediately and his psychological mechanations along with the fast pace of the storyline kept me engaged. I felt that the depiction of Vin as kingmaker being kept off-balance by Rance's unexpected responses worked very well, although at times the drawn-out intensity of Vin's mind games seemed a little too much. These protagonists were immensely complex creatures but not unlikeable. In the end, although Rance is torn down and triumphantly recreated as the Butterfly King, I couldn't help but feel the most affection for Vin who is a master manipulator but so clearly has feet of clay. Oh, also, I thought the settings were gorgeously rendered - even the sewer scenes which were completely visceral - and I loved the inclusion of the after-hours New York Public Library. I'm looking forward to reading more about Vin's journey.


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Tags: rainbow awards 2015
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