Maya’s trauma remains buried with her childhood in the Bavarian Alps, the family hideaway where they fled to get away from the bombing raids. She goes on a U.N. mission to the former tormented Belgian Congo, where she weds her glamorous Italian co-worker and gives birth to two children in the midst of the dangers of the Mulele revolution.

This fast-moving saga rolls across three continents, from war-torn Europe to Africa and then to North America. In Montreal in the 1980s, she undergoes psychotherapy to uncover the sting of angst embedded in her psyche.

From hypnosis arises the image of the black butterfly, symbol of her father. In the psychiatrist’s office, the doctor’s suggestion of friendly touching “dislodges the pebble that sets in motion an avalanche” – Maya’s anatomy of a secret seduction.

This unusual picture book for adults uses the literary device of quotes pulled from the text to create a parallel universe of 80 drawings – each one an epiphany – that illustrate the gift of humour found in the transformative power of art and spirituality.

Reader Reviews and more information about the Author at:

Review by Elaine Audet

Poet, writer, co-publisher of

  • INSECTUAL - The Secret of the Black Butterfly is published, with 75 drawings by the author. Extremely well written, this passionate journey through the narrow tunnel of blocked memory oscillates between the spiritual quest and a psychological thriller. Her heroine Maya’s life is anything but trivial. From Nazi Germany to the civil war in the ex-Belgian Congo, where she worked for the United Nations in the ’60s, until her arrival in Montreal in 1974, she lived a perpetual adventure, and married a handsome Italian with whom she had a boy and a girl. As I would do for a thriller, I will not reveal here the details of her difficult journey through her past, since she was careful to keep the suspense until the end.

  • Everybody interested in the process of psychotherapy will learn a great deal, as much about the blessings as about the risks of entrusting the direction of one's life to another person to challenge the painful secrets of the unconscious – even if that person is a member of the Order of Psychiatrists. In a fluid, colourful language, always with a truly authentic voice, Barbara knows how to interest us about her heroine’s struggle to regain her sexuality and her personal autonomy. Over a period of 30 years, she imposes on herself this quest for truth. Her growing commitment in the visual arts and writing - parallel to her therapy - favours the recovery of her independence, often put aside in the name of a harmonious family life and the safeguarding of her marriage.

  • The journey of this courageous septuagenarian shows the depth of the wounds left by incest, this absolute patriarchal power imposed upon her heroine Maya in childhood, from which it is almost impossible to liberate oneself totally. The guilt and the fear of rejection trap her unconsciously to give in to seduction, that illusory power that her predator has already cynically imposed on her during her adolescence in the name of love. In Maya’s difficult psychological journey a journal is of prime importance.

  • ”I want my diary to represent the absolute truth, to record as closely as possible what was said, even if it is shameful, embarrassing, unspeakable.” (page 152). In staying true to this principle and in letting her imagination flow freely – in her art – she reaches another level of consciousness thus allowing all hope to flourish.

Six reviews by Indie Book Reviewers:

  • To say this book is totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before would be an understatement. I’m not sure how to even describe this book as SO much happens, and it seems to touch on so many elements, themes, and subjects, times and places. It is told in a stream-of consciousness manner mostly recounting past events (but told in present tense…). Gets pretty dark and twisted, and definitely for a mature audience only. But overall a very interesting, different type of book that is memorable, moving, and very well-written. (4-5 stars). Layla Messing, Indie Book Reviewers

  • “Insectual: The Secret of the Black Butterfly” by Barbara Sala starts off with some considerable backstory to set up the scene and ground the reader in the Maya’s sexy world and perspective, which the author Barbara Sala does a wonderfully convincing job of creating as believable background for the plot to unfold. This book does touch on some pretty heavy subject matters and there should be trigger warnings for the abuse. A powerful, mind bending read that kept me captivated. And the editing was flawless (I notice these things). Adults only. (5 stars) Laura Clarke, Indie Book Reviewers

  • Well this book took me a while to read, but in the end I’d say it was worth it! I like how everything came together, and I enjoyed reading this unusual book! I think Barbara Sala writes VERY well … very descriptive and strong and we feel like we are there almost like watching a David Lynch movie or something. Overall an interesting, if not surreal novel that pushes the boundaries of typical literature. Warning – recommended for mature readers as has sensitive subject matter. (5 stars). Sherri, Indie Book reviewers

  • “Insectual- The Secret of the Black Butterfly” is the first book I’ve read from this talented author Barbara Sala, but I hope it’s not the last! The way this book was written is different from many I’ve read before, but it totally hooked me right from the beginning and kept my attention throughout. It was intelligent, weird, sad, dark, funny, deep, tragic… I thought the storyline and the character development to be very well done and thought out. I feel like this level of complexity could have easily ended up badly, but instead I darn near gobbled the whole book down in just a few evenings. There were some pretty shocking events that may upset some readers but I thought the author handled the sensitive subject matter well. This book will haunt me for a long time, but in a good way. Recommend for adults only. (4 stars) Karen « Reader girl » Indie Book Reviewers

  • This was one engaging tale that I couldn’t put down! I did have to have some patience in the beginning until I felt that I was more caught up in the thrust of the story, but the author does a great job of explaining all the backstory and sub plots. I enjoyed the easy flow and inventive ideas and plot of “Insectual”, and really liked the characters! Happy that they were not cliché, cardboard cutouts but relatable and real. I liked that I never quite knew where the story was going, and it was anything but predictable… my eyebrows shot up and my jaw dropped many times. It gets pretty intense, and I wasn’t prepared for where the book went, but I feel like it is an important story that needs to be told. The author has a great way of writing, even if it took me awhile to get into the flow. Oh, and I loved the drawings at the beginning of each chapter! ( 4 stars). Essieharmon, Indie Book Reviewers

  • From the very beginning the story moved seamlessly from one page to the next, and was unpredictable enough to make me just *have* to see what would happen next. Not formulaic or cookie-cutter at all, even though there are plenty of “familiar elements” necessary for a psychological thriller, this one is very different from others, probably because of the historical element. I was impressed with this author’s writing style and her attention to detail… I really felt transported to another time and place. The narrative is literary, almost poetic at times, even when discussing ugly events. Lots of metaphors, symbolism, and double-meanings, which I thought was really cool. Recommended for ages 18+ and I will look for more works from her in the future. (5 stars) Elisabeth Brown, Indie Book Reviewers