The Black Butterfly Woman Reviewed by Jona Muku

The book started out as a tough read initially for the first two chapters. The second chapter started slowly interesting, but the later chapters got us into the Tunnels, in which the hero of the book (Billy) crawls through.

A thoroughly enjoyable book though traumatic at times, this psychological novel gives new insights into the struggles of a soldier who fought in the Vietnam War. It’s an excellent attempt…to try out such a complex tale with multiple shades.

I must say, it is indeed a good read for me.

The Gold Hunter

reviewed by Sarah Slim, September 10, 2020

Since its inception, literature has used tales and legends orally passed on from generation and later the written forms to highlight the everlasting conflict between good and evil. It is, therefore, important means to reflect on the human’s feelings and thoughts since they have lived on Earth. This conflict, which has been the theme for many literary works in the form of poetry and fiction, creatively and meticulously addressed various topics such as wars, conflicts, class and societal differentiation, colonialism, slavery, freedom, as well as diseases and epidemics that have dispersed the lives of million people including the current COVID virus. Recently, I have read The Gold Hunter fiction by Philip Atlas Clausen. This novel is about the eternal struggle between the good and evil, but the writer marries fantasy with reality. The gold hunter is the first part of a four-part series called “The Gold Discoverer.” The novelist took the idea from the fever of exploration for gold in California so that the story could have a moral dimension. It depicts the greed that afflicts man and makes him in a constant and determined quest to reach everything without consideration for others. In the novel, the main character Peter discovers a path down a lake and takes us to an amazing place full of surprises and more like a Ali Baba’s Cave. Of course, because Peter wanted to fulfill his family’s dreams, he took what he wanted in gold so that he could realize his family’s dreams, such as building a steam-powered wooden mill for his father, a house for his mother and a horse for his sister. But all his hopes were in vain when the king of the mountains heard about gold and wanted to seize it for himself because he was the king and he had the right to do so. Through this interesting narrative, the writer was able to get his readers involved and make them a part of his work by adopting an easy and simple way of conveying his idea, so that we the readers have no difficulty in tracking events and characters. The writer also relied on symbolism and spirituality to reaccount many things such as religion and the dreams that Peter saw. I found this wisdom in the novel: ” There was no time for pain or sickness, or adventure there was a work to do “” In this particular phrase, it is a reverence for the value of work, which can overcome all difficulties, however painful. The author has based the novel on many stories and references in which man played an important role in destroying others in order to gain wealth, as happened to the Native Americans. The novel also digs into the past of human beings to keep pace with the present in an attempt by the writer to link time and raise a question regarding the changes that have taken place and what will happen to us at the present time. The novel depicts how the human plants within him the seeds of evil as we can see everyday. The Gold Hunter combines imagination with fascination to tell a real world in which the man was and is still the main and perhaps the only source of all the miserable conflicts that occur in it.

Sara Slim

The Black Butterfly Woman, Philip Atlas Clausen Reemahmad’s Review

August 14, 2020.

The story of Billy Bascom seeking black butterflies is a beautiful journey of a troubled boy who became a soldier in Vietnam then traumatized man trying to overcome his demons and enjoy life. We get to learn about his troubled childhood that made a black hole inside of him. When he was old enough, he dropped school and enlisted into the army to do good and become a man.  He was sent to Vietnam at the very cruel time of the war and given the weirdest task that could not be more metaphoric, A tunnel explorer or how he call it a tunnel rat. The Vietnamese used tunnels to hide, atrack and even live away from the death that awaits at the surface. Billy went to the tunnels to find clues that can help his unit win war, but instead he found a woman or how he called her “Black butterfly”. Although their time together was short but he immediately fill in love with her then lost her horribly. Part two we follow our troubled solder as he came back from war trying to return to normal, trying to fight his demons seeking love although troubles were hunting him at every corner,  his goodness and inner strength helped him find his butterflies again.

The novel shines a light over the horrible war and that the Vietnamese are the right owner of the land, invader no matter how vicious they try are doomed to retreat back where they came from filled with sorrow and shame.

I found this novel so interesting on so many level. Learning about war, Learning about America at that the era. Learning no matter how bad things can be there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Thanks for the writer for this beautiful piece.

The Black Butterfly Woman reviewed by Arvind Mahadevan: a war book that is not really about war

Just finished reading The Black Butterfly Woman by Philip Atlas Clausen. It is my first novel by the author and a very enthralling story. This is an interesting story that, based on the first two chapters, seems to be about the Vietnam War. However, as the book and story progresses, it becomes clear that the book is not really about the Vietnam War or even the war itself. Rather, it is about the struggle that one man (and a young boy in flashbacks) has to find himself in an uncertain world. The first two chapters are a little unfocused but starting with the third chapter, the novel picks up speed and its story becomes more compelling. Recommend this book!

THE BLACK BUTTERFLY WOMAN Suha Vinjay’s Review: a good one to spend time with during the lockdown period

The book started as a tough read initially for the first two chapters. The second chapter started slowly interesting, but the later chapters got us into the Tunnels, in which the hero of the book (Billy) crawls through.

A thoroughly enjoyable book though traumatic at times, this psychological novel gives new insights into the struggles of a soldier who fought in the Vietnam War. It’s an excellent attempt…to try out such a complex tale with multiple shades.

I felt happy after reading this book during the lockdown period, as it is a good one to spend time with.

The Gold Hunter reviewed by Christina Munar

The Gold Hunter: The Goldfinder Series, Book One
by Philip Atlas Clausen (Goodreads Author)

Cristina Munar’s review
Dec 18, 2019
really liked it
** spoiler alert ** The Gold Hunter: The Goldfinder Series, Book One
I have sensed that this book will be a rare gem like the title. With the use of imagery, philosophy with a dash of humanity and the backdrop of history, the reading experience will be one for the book. Did I ever feel that the novel will take a long time for me to digest? Yes. With intricate details of California, the Indians (and a glimpse of Scotland), the author meticulously embedded those historical/ metaphysical clues for the intelligent reader to piece together and to create a journey towards believing on her/his ability to decode hidden lakes and invisible caves figuratively or literally. It became too much to bear…not to allot time for some reflective thinking after browsing the chapters. Did I ever give up? Nope. Thank you for the vote of confidence from the writer and fellow readers and reviewers. After all, the reader like me could easily identify with the main man, the young, dynamic Petr John Valory, but without a letter “e”on his name to save ink? For economy’s sake? Who in the world would ever decide on giving someone an incomplete identity? (Many to mention-pangs of reality). So that when Magya and John did that, I just made up excuses or reasons to interpret at the end of my reading journey. And the ending turned bitter as the plot ricocheted and spiraled to a great unknown. I ended up hating Magya and loving John. Could you blame me? This novel made me appreciate the harsh deaths the Indians suffered at the time where only the fittest could survive or how I finally understood John’s invisible thread of love and concern for his children, or Annabel’s life purpose of becoming a “man” imitating her ‘brother’, Petr and following him as if it was the only way to be one. So when they were broken apart by one mystical battle of obedience and loyalty, neither one of them survived the curse of reincarnation– of reliving the misery and pain of your past life all over again. Did I struggle with the fear of not ever reaching the last page and sigh, I made it? Undoubtedly. But because I enjoyed tearing Petr Valory’s character apart and putting them together with fresh outlook at what kind of human fabric he was made of, I never thought of giving him and The Gold Hunter up. This novel was written for historical fantasy lovers and for those who have the knack for metaphorical imagery and aesthetic symbolism. How many times I found myself comparing the falcon to Petr or the doll to Anabel? Sharing the same fate in the same time when touched by a realization that hey, they were never meant to be siblings by blood but lovers by fate. I loved the feeling that somehow I am criticizing the way the story progressed to many violent outbursts by all faces of evils.Evils that were just lurking in a California- man killer– whether it be Magya’s escape and /or abandonment or John’s undeserved death or Dain King’s devilish ambitions. Or the sickening dread that Annabel and Petr from the very beginning I read them pledging with each other, were in an incestuous relationship. It was a flipping kind of crazy to stop myself as a reader from judging how these characters react on their fate, wishing silently that Petr will make a name for himself and find love greater and safer than what he was feeling for Annabel.He was just seventeen. but his journey towards becoming a man and providing for his now non-existent family will only remain a dream he wished on the day of his birth. Or rebirth probably? The novel opened with a happy tone of being alive despite the tragical romance surrounding Magya’s failure and John’s inconsistency. But then again the foreshadowing techniques employed by Philip Clausen were sprinkled throughout the pages that you might as well just be prepared that something will happen when finally the characters, on a beautiful, bright California Sunday, were able to find a goldmine paying the higher price–their life.
Petr’s dreams to build a white house for his Mama or a good horse for Annabel and a saw mill for his Papa turned to a nightmare of being trapped to the sins of the past in a never-ending dominance of human greed and weak heart. Gold Lake was a dream that turned into a nightmare.

Pramit’s Review of The Gold Hunter

The Gold Hunter is the first novel in the Goldfinder Series by Philip Atlas Clausen that tells the story of a bunch of Gold explorers. Set up in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada and the forests and valleys during the California Gold Rush the story comes alive in the lively description of the nature by the author. The atrocities done by the white people on the native Red Indians during the European Settlement is shown in proper light. The underlying message of the story is the fact that the greed of humankind is the evil which is the cause of most of the crimes. The protagonists of the story are strong but it is not overcrowded with many characters making the story easy to follow. The ending of the book keeps the reader waiting for a ‘poetic justice’. It has a flavor of thriller in the envelope of adventure. This book has been one of my best reads so far.

Ana Banana’s Review of The Gold Hunter

Pros: I enjoyed the book! Beautiful writing, gorgeous images of colorful scenery. I really enjoyed the novel. I got emotionally invested in the entire family. I really was rooting for a full happy ending for everyone. But sadly, it all went downhill when Annabel went missing. The plot twist caught me off guard, King being Petr’s dad!?!? I hope we get to know more of his birth mom in the next installment.

I thoroughly enjoyed the fantasy element in this book. I wasn’t expecting any fantasy/mystical things when I first saw the title and book cover but I’m glad the author managed to write that in .

I’ll be eagerly waiting for the next book as I would love to continue to follow Petr’s journey and see him and Annabel reunited again. Cons: none.

Jai’s Review of The Gold Hunter

The novel in its entirety is akin to the process of gold hunting itself. Filled with hope and uncertainty, you plunge straight into the darkness of a gold mine–digging, scraping and smashing until the bits of treasure start to gleam amidst the murky shadows. It’s a story within a story–an adventure within an adventure. There was a little philosophical and existential cynicism injected here and there which I really enjoyed and added an introspective dimension to the story. What stood out for me is Annabel’s story. I think it would’ve made for an inspiring children’s tale of self-discovery and growth on its own. Her bravery to venture into the unknown coupled with her unwavering tenacity to survive was emotionally stirring for an eight-year-old.

I’d love to see this adapted into a film someday. The setting, the premise, the character development–everything was beautifully narrated and conceptualized. If you want to get a compelling insight into the realities of the California Gold Rush, this is your pick.