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Butterfly House

T.K. Sheils

March 2006 from Amber Quill Press
5 Star Reviewer's Choice!!!

ISBN: 1-59279-498-X (Electronic)
ISBN: 1-59279-746-6 (Paperback)

EPPIE award winner for Horror

Since the moment of Original Sin, man has been mortal, trapped in time, and able only to grasp tenuously at the concept of eternity. That is, unless that man has been able to study and practice the arcane seventh-century teachings of Agrippolos the Left-handed, notably his major work, The Chronomicon Novum. Then the Vast Unknowable is his. But man must beware; failure to master the teachings completely can result in a fate far worse than mere mortality.

Two strangers, a male sportswriter and a female student of the occult, buy a house together because, not in spite of, the fact that it is reputed to be haunted. In so doing, they become entangled in the history of the family who built the place to use as a venue for an experiment in controlling time. They also discover that the house now seems to have developed a life of its own, one which bears a distinct resemblance to the evil personality of the defrocked Seventh Century monk and his twisted philosophies on the nature of Sin and Eternity.

What people say about BUTTERFLY HOUSE:

Two strangers arrive at the same real estate office at the same time in response to the same ad. House for sale. Both want the house for the same (and yet mysteriously, different) reason: It's haunted. Or at least rumored to be.

Jackson Rutledge and Sabrina Osterling discover right away that wanting the house isn't the only thing they have in common. They don't like each other.  Equally. Instantly. And that's no problem. The house seems designed especially for just such circumstances with its identical but separate wings. So it is that these hostile strangers venture into a mutually satisfying deal -- each owns 50 percent of what they hope is a haunted house. But they don't think to ask the opinion of the interested third party before crossing the T's, dotting the I's, and scribbling their respective signatures. They don't stop to wonder what the house might think of them.  

I was interested in this story from the start. For one thing, the setup is far enough from the traditional haunted house take that I couldn't accurately predict what was coming next. For another, while I figured that neither "hostile" nor "stranger" would last (I dreaded the inevitable blossoming romance that no story seems to be complete without), the author surprised me again. I won't tell you how but whichever way you guess, I'm willing to bet you don't get it exactly right. 

T.K. Sheils has rendered a tale in which the familiar nestles so close to the unknown it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. I was willing to allow for some adherence to the horror "formula" but every time we ventured into what appeared to be formulaic territory, the trail, much to my satisfaction, took an unexpected turn. With shades of Lovecraft, Barker-esque overtones, and imagery worthy of any of the current kings of the macabre, "Butterfly House" oozed its foreboding ambiance all over my attic office space and managed to creep me out. In the day time. Exactly what a horror novel ought to do.  I look forward to reading more of Sheils' work.

D. McDougle

Finally a haunted house story with a very original twist.

I'll start with the one drawback to this e-book, would you buy a house and live there with a total stranger? Get past this, not a difficult thing to do, and hold on for a very strange ride.

Strangers, Jack and Sabrina, buy the old Hanley house, each want the house for very distinctive reasons. The house is different from any other house as it appears off-centred and the East and West wing are the mirror opposites of each other. The house's tower doesn't seem to have any entrance and nowhere in the house will you find a mirror. The only windows are all on the south side of the house. It's interesting how these windows catch the bright sunlight.

"Butterfly House" offers the normal bumps in the night, mysterious footprints, faces in the windows, and an assortment of visions. What makes "Butterfly House" intriguing is the concept behind the construction of the house and the people who used to live there.

There isn't much more I can say without giving away the originality of the storyline. I cannot even say if the concepts uncovered in "Butterfly House" are real or not, maybe my reading/education experience is lacking and/or I just haven't come across the theories interwoven in T.K. Sheils' tale; either way my interest has been piqued. The writing is clear; the characters of Jack and Sabrina are two of the better well-rounded haunted house characters I've come across in my readings lately. But the strongest element is still the concept behind the haunted house, a concept that makes you ask questions well after you've finished the book.

This is a book that I highly recommend, especially for those who favour haunted house tales. If anyone is familiar with the concepts written within the pages of "Butterfly House" please contact me, I would sleep better knowing that they really are just fiction.

Goblin Muse by Chris Speakman

Many years ago local recluse, Luther Hanley, had a house built for himself and his 2 daughters. As the daughters apparently did not get on he had 2 identical wings built onto the house, one for each daughter, whereas Luther himself lived in the middle section. One day all 3 of the Hanley's vanished.

Years later Sabrina Osterling and Jackson Rutledge independently see a sales advert for the house and for their own, very different reasons, realise that they have to buy it. Unfortunately the asking price is out of reach for each of them so they decide to club together to buy it and take one wing each. Very soon they realise that something strange is going on and they get the definite impression that the house doesn't want them to be there?.

This book gave me the creeps and I can honestly say that doesn't happen very often! The writing style is reminiscent of such stories as the Amityville Horror and I found myself wishing I had read this in the same was as I read that book - at night, by candlelight! The writing style is very fluent and enthralling. I didn't quite finish this in one sitting but that is only because I had an appointment to be somewhere. As it was I was nearly late because I just had to read one more chapter...

For once, even though I had a feeling I knew what the final 'answer' was going to be, there is no way the ending could ever be described a predictable

Butterfly House is a fine example of the horror genre. Riveting and extremely unnerving. Superb!

Steve & Lesley Mazey

The Eternal Night Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Fiction Web Site

"Move over Stephen King, there's a new master of horror at LTD Books, and his name is T.K. Sheils."

While this reviewer has enjoyed many of Sheils' novels, BUTTERFLY HOUSE is the best yet, demonstrating amazing polish and imagination. Both Jackson Rutledge and Sabrina Osterling arrived at the real estate office at the same time in answer to the ad for a house described as "musty, dusty, and guaranteed haunted." Neither was prepared for the result of their encounter and subsequent acquisition of the house.

Though they didn't like each other, Jackson and Sabrina pooled their resources to buy the old house. With its enormous mirrored wings, they only had to tolerate each other in the kitchen area, and a schedule would easily prevent chance encounters. Nevertheless, mysterious happenings begin to alert them to danger and Jackson and Sabrina are drawn together to fight unspeakable evil. Somewhere in the house lie the answers to what happened to its previous occupants, Luther Hanley and his twin daughters Clarisse and Amanda.

Luther built mirrored wings on the house, one for each daughter. The sisters planned to never encounter each other, and never to speak to each other because of their hatred for each other. Then one day all three family members simply disappeared, never to be seen again. Fifty years later, mysterious footprints, faces in windows, and messages both printed and on the computer alert Jackson and Sabrina to danger. A malevolent presence lurks within the house, and they just may not survive its evil intent before they run out of time.

Indeed, time seems to be of the essence. Haunting, and unlike anything this reviewer has ever encountered, BUTTERFLY HOUSE will mesmerize, fascinate, and horrify the reader. Crisp and atmospheric, it's easy to lose oneself in the depth and complexity of the novel.

Cindy Penn for Wordweaving - (AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE)

"Someone is creeping through the darkened house...and the house doesn't like it!"

The unusual opening draws the reader into this story of a strange house, reputed to be haunted, and the mismatched pair that purchase it. Jack wants to write a horror novel, and thinks the creepy atmosphere would be perfect. Sabrina aches to meet a real ghost, and knows if one can be found anywhere, it will be here. Although neither can afford the hefty price tag on the house, its design of two identical wings flanking a common kitchen/dining area makes it almost like a duplex. They agree to split the cost, and the house, having as little contact with each other as possible. In fact, they begin by sliding notes under each other's doors.

When they hear footsteps in the night, when threatening notes appear etched in the dust or typed on the computer, when strange faces peer in the windows, and when someone -- or someTHING -- seems determined to force them to leave, Jack and Sabrina find comfort in each other. But they need more than comfort. They need answers. Can they find the answers they need before the deadly threats are carried out?

This book scared the **** out of me. In fact, I'm not entirely certain I'll be able to sleep tonight without leaving a light on. So from a horror perspective, it was certainly effective. But what made it so chilling was the perfectly reasoned and believable fantasy/science fiction (alternate theology?) rationale motivating the action. Studying the past, future, or even the present, to the exclusion of all else, is ultimately doomed to failure and frustration. The events of the book explore that concept to its logical and terrifying conclusion.

While I initially found Sabrina too abrasive, and never did quite understand how her childhood experiences led to a hatred of all men, by the end I sympathized with her. Jack was a more likable character from the beginning. They are both fuller and more well-rounded than the standard victim caricatures found in much horror, although their characters do not drive the story. It is clearly an idea book. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, when the idea is such a strong one, and delivered in such a masterful way, it is a very good thing indeed."

Jennifer Dunne - Scribes World *****


I actually finished this book a couple of months ago. I'd put aside doing the review because Butterfly House is a rare gem whose impact left me without words. Okay, if you like the horror genre, remember what you felt like the first time you read one of the classics? That, gee-whiz-how cool but don't you dare turn out the lights kinda feeling? You do? That is Butterfly House.

Two dissimilar people find the home of their dreams and, neither being comfortable financially, decide to purchase it together. That works you see because there are two wings to this house, a "haunted" house, and each can reside in one half. Being haunted is what makes it their dream home.

Dream or nightmare? Naturally they want to investigate the validity of such a haunting. Their investigations turn up rather startling and dangerous information. For one, the house had been previously inhabited by an elderly man and his two daughters. Each daughter with a wing to herself. They were said to have been looking into the nature of time itself. Then, they disappeared.

Butterfly House is a scary book. Horror fiction so rarely scares me these days. I've missed it.  Butterfly House puts the terror back in horror fiction. Not only that. It makes you think. Butterfly House makes you fantasize as well and that puts you in the very realm of the fiction writer.

T.K. Sheils has blessed his readers with a rare gift and a rare book.

Butterfly House, a classic!


Two strangers, a male sportswriter and a female student of the occult, buy a house together because, not in spite of, the fact that it is reputed to be haunted. In so doing, they become entangled in the history of the family who built the place to use as a venue for an experiment in controlling time.

They also discover that the house now seems to have developed a life of its own, one which bears a distinct resemblance to the evil personality of the defrocked Seventh Century monk and his twisted philosophies on the nature of Sin and Eternity.

I was held captive as I read this book of dark fantasy, and with each terrifying event that unfolded I found myself holding my breath and reading faster. THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE was a roller-coaster ride of delicious thrills and horror. On a scale (1-5) I give it a glowing 5!"

Jewel Dartt - Midnight Scribe Reviews *****

Seldom do I read a horror story that gives me nightmares as this one did! Highly recommended reading for real horror fans! Excellent! I look forward to reading this author in another book soon!