Review: The Vanishing at the Very Small Castle: Butter O’Bryan Mysteries #2

Book 2 in the Butter O’Bryan Mysteries finds us at Howlers Beach in 1932 during the Depression. Dr O’Bryan is away with Gil on a journey of repair, recovery and healing after the boy contracts polio.

At the Very Small Castle, Butter is no longer lonely, because Gil, Tish, Olive and the three-legged dog Woofer, have now become family.

A monster appears at their door one stormy night. Of course, the three Aunts – Cake, Elephant and Peculiar, rally to feed him and discover what he’s doing there. 

Tish takes an immediate liking to the giant Marvin, who is not really a monster but an actor. Where fear and horror should have reared its head, kindness and friendship is offered and accepted.

Hot on his heels, filmmakers Rose and her sister Marigold appear.

They are wanting to use the castle for a monster movie with Marvin and the fabulous vaudeville star, Delilah Divine in the leading role.

The Aunts agree on the condition that the family takes a small part in the film.

What starts as the story line for the film, ends entirely different with the shuffling around of the script to accommodate the children.

When Delilah disappears in the middle of the filming, it is up to Butter, the mystery solver, to discover what happened to her.

During his search for Delilah, Butter becomes aware that no one is what they say they are or appear to be. The plot thickens when deception is peeled away layer by layer, and the raw truth is exposed.

This brilliant mystery series presents a strong sense of time and place. The representation of compassion and generosity frequently shown toward the susso communities by people better off, is paramount to the story, as is the character of Marvin the monster.

His role subtly accentuates the despair of soldiers who returned from the war damaged in body, mind and spirit, haunted for the remainder of their lives by what they had seen and done. 

Brought to attention, is the crucial fact that there was no support or help of any kind offered to return soldiers.

Jackie French once again, serves up a wonderful novel based on Australian history, full of startling characters, wonderful scenes and important underlying messages.

Title: The Vanishing at the Very Small Castle: Butter O’Bryan Mysteries #2
Author: Jackie French
Publisher: Harper Collins, $16.99
Publication Date: 7 April 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781460757734
For ages: 10+
Type: Historical Fiction

June 2, 2021 at 12:33PM Anastasia Gonis