Kiss of the Butterfly
Lyon’s vampire thriller boasts an interesting premise—that vampires are real and relevant to the 1990s war in the Balkans. A prefatory note explains the historical basis for the book: there were 18th-century vampire-hunting units in the Austrian army and an official vampire hunter employed by Empress Maria Theresa of the Holy Roman Empire. Those details afford Lyon the chance to present a truly original take on the blood-sucking undead. The backbone of the novel is set in the 1990s, as American grad student Steven Roberts travels to what would soon become the former Yugoslavia to do research and discovers that vampires might be more than just folklore. Obstacles thrown in his path—such as a rare book that disappears from a library after he requests it—only further convince him that he’s on the right track. Despite effective prose and a great hook, the book suffers from conceptual inconsistencies, e.g. the biology of vampires presented by the author doesn’t entirely make sense—they have no flesh and use blood to inflate their skin, but somehow are able to walk and even have sex—and this will take some readers out of the story.