Robert’s brother Matthew disappears one day on his walk from the family farm into town. Soon more children are disappearing, and a new man moves into town. Abram quickly gains the respect and loyalty of almost everyone in town – especially the adults, who are quick to believe that his rain machine can bring the rain they need to their Depression era Saskatchewan. Robert, however, has many misgivings. Especially after he’s had dreams about butterflies luring him away the same night that two other children go missing.
As none of the grown-ups will believe a child his age about his misgivings about Abram, Robert sets out to find out what has happened to his brother and the other missing children – only to discover that Abram’s collection of butterflies is more than just butterflies, but are the souls of the children that have gone missing.
Oh gosh. I found this book disturbing. So creepy. More creepy than Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and a lot of people were way creeped out by that book. And yet I needed to know what happened in it, how things turned out, what happened with Abram and all of the missing kids… I think the creepy thing was how Abram was able to completely bewitch the adults, make them only think about things they want, make them spend all their time in daydreams, and make them forget all about the missing children. Even Robert’s parents forgot that Matthew had disappeared – at one point they were convinced that he wasn’t missing, that he was just visiting his grandparents and would be back soon, but at other points it was as if he never even existed.
Normally I love books where children are the heroes and are able to succeed and save the day where parents were never able to. But this one was way too creepy for me to be able to fully enjoy as I would have hoped to.
Though, that said, it is so great to see Canadian authors coming out with books of this caliber. As far as scifi for children and young adults goes, the story of this one was so much more vivid than others I’ve read recently (such as Westerfeld’s Uglies series).
Bottom Line: I still love Arthur Slade’s stuff, but this was my least favourite of the ones I’ve read so far. That said, it was still fabulous, it was just so creepy and really left me disturbed.