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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Hodgson

Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

Black Butterflies tells the story of Zora, an artist and teacher from Sarajevo who is trapped in the city when the Bosnian War starts in the spring of 1992. She doesn't believe the hostilities will last more than a few weeks, but weeks stretch into months ( the war eventually lasted for more than 4 years) and life around her becomes unrecognisable.  

The struggles of the day to day life of the ordinary people of the city are told in a heartbreakingly painful, yet at the same time beautiful, way. This is an accomplished piece of historical fiction; I'm amazed that it's the work of a debut novellist. The power of the human spirit ripples through the pages even as the situation our characters find themselves in gets steadily, and sometimes sharply, worse. 

Morris has paid careful attention to the historical facts of those early months of the Bosnian war here and pays attention to the different nationalities of those who lived in Sarajevo and the political situation at the time.Please don't feel you need to be a history buff to read this book, however. This is, at its heart, a story about people. People living, surviving and showing extraordinary resilience in the face of the horrors that war brings.  

When I first signed up to to this tour a few months back, little did I know the events that we would see unfold in Ukraine. It's certainly made the reading of this novel hit me a little differently than it otherwise may have to know that people are experiencing some of these things right now. The true victims of any war are those ordinary people caught in the crossfire. For all this is a fictional account, it is based on the realities of those trying to survive in the most horrific of circumstances. It is a moving, beautiful and powerful tribute to all of the people of Sarajevo who never had their stories told, and it will stay with me for a very long time.  

I know it‘s only May, but this has been, without a doubt, a highlight of the reading year for me so far and I’m fairly confident that it will easily be in my Top 5 reads of the year!

I am indebted to Duckworth Books and InstaBookTours for the opportunity to be on the tour for this extraordinary book. A copy was gifted to me in exchange for a review.


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