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The Most Sought After Secret - an Editorial Review of "The Butterfly's Cocoon"

Book Blurb:

Eternal life—the most sought-after secret in all the history of mankind.

Thornton Park is hosting a conference on immortality. Guests from many cultures have been invited to speak about their beliefs. No one, least of all Alexandra Archer, expects it to become a deadly search for the secrets to eternal life. At the same time, Steven Lin, a descendant of Wang, who befriended the first Thomas Thornton in Hong Kong in the middle of the 1800s, is visiting Thornton Park.

On his first night in Melbourne before joining the Thorntons, Steven’s travelling companion Kai is attacked and killed in Chinatown. After a welcoming dinner party at Thornton Park, one of the guest speakers is found murdered near the muniment room. Steven later tells them of a document the first Thomas Thornton took with him when he left Hong Kong.

Steven’s family claims it belongs to them. Alexandra is seven months pregnant. She is certain there has to be a connection between the two murders and the document. When another murder follows, Alexandra wonders how many people must die in the search for eternal life.

Caught up in a miasma of myths and dark tales, Alexandra comes to believe that for her baby to live, she must die.

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Author Bio:

Multi Award Winning Author Ellen Read is the author of The Dragon Sleeps, The Inca’s Curse, The Amber Trap and Gold Book Award recipient -The Feathered Nest & The Butterfly's Cocoon - historical murder mystery romance novels, Die For Love, and multi-awarded The Ghost Rider - cosy ghost stories, and Love The Gift and When Jacarandas Bloom - eBook Novellas.

Ellen was born in Queensland, Australia.

She loves to read fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She particularly loves history and stories of ancient myths and legends. Authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, and Victoria Holt, the latter of whom wrote gothic mystery/romances, have influenced her own work.

Die For Love

A suspenseful, macabre ghost story, throwing you from past to present, with a mystery well worth figuring out. Superbly written and thought out, plot twist thrills and chills. This is definitely a page turner and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Editorial Review:

In Ellen Read's thrilling novel, "The Butterfly's Cocoon," we are transported into a world where time-honored mysteries, familial connections, and the age-old quest for immortality entwine to create an extraordinary literary work. Set against the backdrop of the opulent Thornton Park estate, this novel immerses readers in a world where hidden secrets and untold truths come to light, with a plot that slowly builds upon itself, raises the stakes, and creates tension, revealing a fascinating blend of intrigue and drama.

The story opens with Alexandra, the estate's mistress, navigating the challenges of pregnancy while grappling with the haunting memory of a previous miscarriage. As she carries the weight of her family's history, the historical significance of Thornton Park itself becomes an essential character in the narrative. In the initial chapters, the narrative introduces key figures central to the story, Alexandra's closest kin, among them her cherished adopted half-sister and best friend, Edna.

The highly anticipated upcoming conference serves as a focal point for the story. Nestled within the opulent embrace of Thornton Park, this forthcoming gathering of eclectic guests and scholars promises much. At its core, the conference delves into the elusive concept of immortality, inviting attendees to delve into the annals of history, myth, and the human quest for eternal life. As various guests arrive, the characters' discussions and debates begin to shed light on their individual motivations and desires.

But the tranquility of Thornton Park is soon shattered by a shocking murder that propels the narrative into an irresistible mystery. The authorities are summoned and various guests as well as the family are interviewed, and the mysterious Mr. Lin's connection to a colleague's murder keeps the reader on the edge of their seat guessing as to what the motive of the killer might be. The tension builds steadily, keeping readers on the edge of their seats, as they eagerly turn each page to uncover the identity of the elusive killer and the unsettling reasons behind the murders.

The plot unfolds like a finely tuned puzzle, each chapter adding another layer of complexity to the central enigma. The cryptic clues, ancient manuscripts, and historical allusions breathe life into the relentless pursuit of the elixir of life.

What truly stands out in this story is the ensemble cast of characters—richly layered, authentic, and profoundly human. Alexandra, our determined protagonist, is a sharp mistress of the house, with vulnerability, and emotional depth. Her sister Edith's unwavering loyalty and love add warmth and relatability to the story, while James Williams and other supporting characters all contribute to their own subplots that somehow connect to form a greater whole.

The narrative rhythm is impeccably balanced, ensuring the reader remains utterly engaged throughout Alexandra’s journey. Read’s writing style is a masterclass in vivid description that doesn’t get in the way of the story. The dialogue is a delightful blend of playfulness and introspection, offering insight into each character's psyche and the depth of their relationships.

As the story unfolds, it grapples with weighty themes—responsibility, ethics, and the consequences of possessing extraordinary knowledge. The characters' moral quandaries resonate deeply, forcing readers to contemplate their own choices in similarly profound situations. The very concept of immortality becomes a double-edged sword, offering the tantalizing prospect of limitless time while simultaneously raising moral and ethical dilemmas.

"The Butterfly's Cocoon" is a unique treasure that flawlessly interweaves mystery, historical fiction, and familial drama. Ultimately, the idea of immortality becomes a central theme that transcends the confines of the plot, serving as a thought-provoking exploration of human nature itself. It challenges the characters and, by extension, the readers, to contemplate the profound question: What would one be willing to sacrifice, or even risk, in the relentless pursuit of eternal life? Ellen Read's remarkable storytelling skill, distinguished by its intricate narrative structure and deeply empathetic characters, firmly establishes this book as an essential addition to any reading list.


“The Butterfly's Cocoon” by Ellen Read receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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