J.C. Martin's Reviews > Monarch

Monarch by Michelle D. Argyle
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Sep 27, 11

Read from June 30 to September 27, 2011

“Lies, secrets and betrayals cocoon a love as fragile as a butterfly’s wings.”
– Karen Dionne, author of Freezing Point

I find Karen’s quote sums up Michelle’s novel perfectly. While complex and twisting on the outside, the central story is really a simple one, that revolves around a father seeking forgiveness from his daughters, and the age-old love story between a man fraught with grief and guilt, and a woman afraid of allowing herself to love again. Large parts of the story is set in and around the Monarch Inn, a forest retreat directly in the epic migration path of the beautiful Monarch butterflies. As a testament to Michelle’s leanings towards literary fiction, there are constant and fitting references to these fragile creatures littered throughout the book, from their appearances in the woods, to their sugared likeness on Lilian’s masterpiece of a cake, to the winged tattoos on members of the drug gang, even to the shape of blood spatters on a dead man.

Why do Monarchs travel thousands of miles in their annual migration, battering their fragile bodies until scores of them lie dead and dying en route? The symbolism of the Monarch butterfly is a strong and poignant one, of the inherent struggle for survival and the fragility of life.

Every character in Monarch has a story: the silent, brooding Nick, a father seeking forgiveness from his daughters; the seductive but dangerous Catarina, wife of drug lord Ferreira; Violet, the daughter living with the guilt and blame of letting her mother die. My favourite character is Devan, Lilian’s son. A witness to his parent’s bitter divorce, Devan dreams of joining the Air Force, but worries about leaving his mother to run the Monarch Inn alone. With her fragile state of mind, he didn’t think she’d be able to cope. When Nick Avery appears, Devan is torn between liking the charming, mysterious stranger, and distrusting him: would Nick be the one to finally bring his mother out of her slump, or would he end up breaking her heart all over again?

The writing is vivid, the characters compelling, and the story rises to a gripping crescendo in a bloody showdown in the Monarch Inn. A thrilling debut, and one I would definitely recommend to anyone who likes their romance a little dangerous, or their thrillers a touch romantic.

***review originally posted on J.C. Martin, Fighter Writer***

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