An orphan living with her Aunt and Uncle, Merula Merriweather has been secretly hatching and raising exotic butterflies in her uncle’s Hot House. She can’t take the credit but is satisfied with allowing her uncle to receive all the praise. A unique and large butterfly has hatched on the day of the the Royal Zoological Society lecture, so she is excited to take it along to show it off.
One of the guests at the meeting is Lord Raven Royston, who is shown early on to be a risk taker (some say gullible), after investing in some new pioneering schemes, which, had they worked, would benefit society. Unfortunately, many of them don’t work – it shows the quest to be on the cutting edge of things, and take risks, even if they fail.
Because of it’s large size, some people are sceptical that the butterfly is real, and when Raven challenges her to prove her butterfly is real, Merula releases the butterfly from its cage.
Unfortunately Lady Sophia collapses and soon after dies after the poor butterfly lands on her arm. In panic, the butterfly is destroyed and the Society accuse Merula’s uncle Rupert and he’s arrested for murder.
Being a witness and a possible accomplice, Merula’s wanted by the police so she goes into hiding, along with Lord Raven and some of his closest friends, including a Valet (who is really more than a valet) and a mad scientist friend, who helps them work out who really committed the murder, since murder is really what it was. IN order to protect her family there is little contact, and that is via one of the maids.
Meanwhile there is also the deep grief that Raven has for his dead mother, whose death was either a sad accident or something more sinister (did she jump? was she pushed?). A terrible sadness permeates Raven’s family home, which is all but abandoned and staying there only adds to the sadness and mystery of the overall story.
There are lots of red herrings and plot twists – almost too many to remember and mention (leading perhaps to spoilers!). So if you are looking for a Victorian set mystery, without all the clever CSI tricks and tools, with just a *hint* of a potential romance, then this is the story for you!