The Butterfly Club #1: The Ship of Doom – M.A. Bennett

Illustrations – David Dean

Watch out for the Watch. 

When Luna attends a meeting of her aunt’s Butterfly Club, she discovers the club’s true purpose: they’re time travellers who ‘borrow’ technology from the future to “bring progress forward.” 

‘I must tell you that time travel is perfectly possible.’
‘But how?’
‘All in good time.’ 

Before she’s even got her head around the fact that time travel exists, Luna learns that she’s about to see the future for herself. Luna and her two travelling companions, Konstantin, an avid reader with a clockwork heart, and Aidan, who has a “brain like a machine”, are about to board the Time Train for their very first mission.

The trio are tasked with retrieving a very important item from Southampton in 1912. It’s on board an unsinkable ship. 

This is a story of friendship and adventure, one where ordinary people can be heroes. Being true to yourself is valued and integrity is modelled by a number of characters. 

There are also some characters whose motives are more self serving and there’s a decidedly dastardly character, who I’m keen to get to know better as the series progresses. I love a good villain.

I enjoyed seeing all of the ways that humans and machinery interact in this book. Besides the boy with a clockwork heart, there’s also a man with a pocket watch eye and something intriguing about Luna’s aunt. 

‘Tiny, tiny changes can have huge consequences.’ 

Butterflies weave their way through the story, from the butterfly effect to butterfly kisses. There’s also a metaphor that helps explain something important about one of the characters. My personal favourite was the use of butterflies to describe colours, e.g., a “yellow gown the colour of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly”. 

While much of the story lined up with what I know of the Titanic’s voyage, there was one part of the story that didn’t match what I’d previously heard. When Luna sees the iceberg that sinks the Titanic, it is said to look as though it has been “lit from within” as a result of the moonlight. My understanding is that it was a moonless night when the Titanic sank.

As someone who has inhaled as many stories and movies about time travel as I can find, I questioned some of the ways time travel worked in this book.

Over the course of the book, Luna and her new friends travel to the same day on multiple occasions. Although they are in the same areas at the same time as they were previously and have conversations with the same people, their selves from the first time they lived that day are nowhere to be found. I kept thinking of Marty McFly watching the Delorean speeding through the Twin Pines Mall Lone Pine Mall car park on its way to 1985 at the end of the first movie (and the times he has to avoid running into himself in 1985 in the second one).

There is a discussion about not being able to take someone back to a time when they were younger because of the potential timey wimey consequences of having two of the same person in the same time. Knowing that the person they were talking about was soon going to stop breathing permanently, I wondered why they couldn’t take them to a day in the future shortly after the date of their untimely death.

David Dean’s illustrations are stunning. I absolutely adored the clockwork butterfly.

I’ll be boarding the Time Train when my new friends travel to their second mission. Next stop: the Valley of the Kings. 

‘When are you?’ 

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Welbeck Flame, an imprint of Welbeck Children’s Limited, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Greenwich, London, 15th February 1894.

Luna thinks that an evening at her aunt’s butterfly club sounds deathly boring.

But it turns out that the meeting, held in the Butterfly Room at the Greenwich Observatory, is not at all as Luna expects. The Butterfly Club is a society with an unusual secret … they use time travel to plunder the future for wonders.

Together with her friends, Konstantin and Aidan, and a clockwork cuckoo, Luna boards the Time Train. The gang travel to 1912 and find themselves aboard a great ship travelling from Southampton to New York. They locate a man called Guglielmo Marconi and his new invention: the wireless radio. But as the ship heads into icy waters, they discover its name:

The RMS TITANIC

Can Luna and the boys save Marconi and his invention from the doomed ship?

Can they get the radio back home to the Butterfly Club?

And how will their actions change the rest of time?

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