Vone Savan's Reviews > The Butcher's Boy

The Butcher's Boy by Michael Robb Mathias
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's review
Jan 21, 2011

really liked it

The Butcher's Boy by Michael Robb was clearly a novel the author really wanted to write; a book without compromise; a book that held a lot of integrity with Robb's sensibilities; and a book with great honesty. But along with this honesty came a very graphic, gruesome and explicit novel. Something I wasn’t quite expecting, but fully embraced.

The story begins during the fall of 1984 with the murder trial of William Buxley Sr., the man accused of murdering his entire family (Dorothy (wife), Emma (daughter), William Jr. (son), and Elizabeth (another daughter)). Though he was found guilty, he declared his innocence to the day of his execution. After Buxley’s death, Richard King, William Buxley’s attorney, was given ownership of his house as part of his payment for defending him. But, a year later, King was found dead in the Buxley home—he was electrocuted. The death was ruled accidental. The Buxley house was then given to King’s sister who didn’t want anything to do with the house; thus, the house was left to deteriorate.

Fast forward to the summer of 2011. A Mr. Parker now owned the Buxley house. He sold it to Janet Hale, a woman who recently went through a bitter divorce and was looking to get away from the city. She thought living in the country would offer her peace of mind and so, she moved into the Buxley home, completely unaware of the history of the house, with her eleven-year-old son, Michael, and their trusty Rottweiler, Lucy (Lucy-fur is her nickname). After settling in, all sorts of strange phenomena start to happen, relating back to the Buxley family and their gruesome murders. From there, the plot unfolds in all kinds of direction; too many to even attempt to summarize.

I really enjoyed The Butcher's Boy. The plot was convoluted but well-developed, the characters were substantial and well fleshed-out, and the pace of the book was consistent. All these great qualities really kept me on edge. I liked how Robb was able to combine the concepts of a psychological thriller with the elements of the supernatural; and he did it in a way that was seamless and relevant.

Robb also used a lot of foreshadowing and portending in the book, which I enjoyed as well, because it’s so necessary for genres like this. He would introduce characters like Steve Duncan (the counselor to Oliver), Oliver (a recovering drug addict), Willie Tee (the town drunk), Detective Howell (his title speaks for itself), Tommy McMurphy (the missing neighbor’s child), and several other characters, and then expect us to play a game of “who done what to whom.” Part of the charm of the novel was this little game; it got me really engrossed in the plot.

The one unfavorable part of the book for some people might be the novel’s graphic depiction of the death scenes, intertwined with the explicit sexual content. While I did cringe in certain parts of the book, I still applaud Robb for writing a novel the way he wanted to. I always give credit to authors who aren’t afraid to be provocative or push the envelope; to express their art the way they really want to; and to endorse anti-censorship. While reading The Butcher's Boy, that’s the intent I got from Robb—super kudos!

All in all, I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers or scary novels. There’s enough content in the book to satiate a reader’s voracious appetite for these particular genres. I also appreciated the finality of the novel, which brings closure to a great injustice; an injustice that was the driving force behind the entire plot. I have to give props to Robb for his great use of cohesion and integration with all the different elements of the book.
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Reading Progress

January 21, 2011 – Shelved
May 29, 2011 – Started Reading
May 31, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Vone Savan I'm glad, and flattered. Reading your novel was a lot of fun. You're a great writer.

Michele at A Belle's Tales I enjoyed your review almost as much as I enjoyed the book! Wonderful!

Vone Savan Thank you, Chelesbells. I greatly appreciate your kind words.

message 4: by mark (new)

mark monday vone have you seen the film version, and if so, what did you think?

message 5: by mark (last edited Jun 23, 2011 09:56PM) (new)

mark monday good to know! i would have been very unpleasantly surprised to watch the movie and see nothing that has been described in this great review. been gradually working my way through neil jordan's films and this title certainly stands out.

message 6: by mark (new)

mark monday it is on my admittedly perhaps-too-vast To-Read list.

Vone Savan Hey, guys. I guess you didn't need me to answer the question, Mark. Mr. Robb did a much better job anyway.

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