Category Archives: The Butterfly Girl

Review: The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld

Title: The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld
Naomi Cottle Series Book Two
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


After captivating readers in The Child Finder, Naomi—the investigator with an uncanny ability for finding missing children—returns, trading snow-covered woods for dark, gritty streets on the search for her missing sister in a city where young, homeless girls have been going missing and turning up dead.

From the highly praised author of The Child Finder and The Enchanted comes The Butterfly Girl, a riveting novel that ripples with truth, exploring the depths of love and sacrifice in the face of a past that cannot be left dead and buried. A year ago, Naomi, the investigator with an uncanny ability for finding missing children, made a promise that she would not take another case until she finds the younger sister who has been missing for years. Naomi has no picture, not even a name. All she has is a vague memory of a strawberry field at night, black dirt under her bare feet as she ran for her life.

The search takes her to Portland, Oregon, where scores of homeless children wander the streets like ghosts, searching for money, food, and companionship. The sharp-eyed investigator soon discovers that young girls have been going missing for months, many later found in the dirty waters of the river. Though she does not want to get involved, Naomi is unable to resist the pull of children in need—and the fear she sees in the eyes of a twelve-year old girl named Celia. Running from an abusive stepfather and an addict mother, Celia has nothing but hope in the butterflies—her guides and guardians on the dangerous streets. She sees them all around her, tiny iridescent wisps of hope that soften the edges of this hard world and illuminate a cherished memory from her childhood—the Butterfly Museum, a place where everything is safe and nothing can hurt her.

As danger creeps closer, Naomi and Celia find echoes of themselves in one another, forcing them each to consider the question: Can you still be lost even when you’ve been found? But will they find the answer too late?


The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld is an emotionally harrowing mystery. Although this second installment in the Naomi Cottle series can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend book one, The Child Finder, as well.

Still searching for her missing sister, Naomi Cottle and her husband Jerome are staying with her friend, Diane, in Portland, OR.  Naomi has scant information about her life before and during captivity due to her memory loss surrounding their horrific kidnapping as very young children. She managed to escape the underground bunker where the kidnapper was holding them and she has never seen her sister again. Naomi is drawn to Portland where numerous homeless girls have been murdered but do these present day events have anything to do with her past?

While seeking information about her sister among the homeless community, Naomi crosses paths with twelve year old Celia on more than one occasion. Celia had no choice but to leave her drug addicted mother after her stepfather was acquitted of molesting her. She remains incredibly worried he will abuse her younger sister Alyssa but she is powerless to do anything expect try to convince her mother to leave her stepfather. Celia escapes her hopeless situation with visits to the library where she pores over books about butterflies. She and two other kids stick together in an effort to stay as safe as possible. But will Celia manage to avoid becoming the killer’s next victim?

While not working any active missing children cases, Naomi does uncover valuable information about the murders of the young girls. Turning these details over to the local police and FBI,  she continues her search for her missing sister.  Shocking details about her and her sister’s life before their kidnapping unexpectedly opens a new avenue in her investigation.  Naomi is inching closer to possibly learning the truth about what happened to them, but will this new information lead her to her sister?

The Butterfly Girl is a poignant mystery that provides a heart wrenching portrait of life on the streets. Celia’s plight is absolutely heartbreaking as she continues to try to protect her younger sister. Naomi is clearly struggling as she puts her search for her sister ahead of her marriage and friendship. With the pieces of the puzzle quickly falling into place, Rene Denfeld brings this suspenseful mystery to a  surprisingly uplifting conclusion. I highly recommend this riveting installment to old and new fans of the  Naomi Cottle series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harper, Mystery, Naomi Cottle, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Butterfly Girl