Book Title: The Butterfly Garden
Author: Dot Hutchison
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Crime Fiction, Horror, Contemporary
Date Read: 06/20/16
Pub Date: 06/ 01/16
Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.
In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.
When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.
As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…
I feel confident stating that this book will not be for everyone; I even feel fairly confident that this book won’t be for most people. It is dark, graphic, twisted, and touches on almost every taboo subject I can think of. Not since I read Karin Slaughter’s Pretty Girls last year has a book disturbed me so completely.So why in the world would anyone want to read this book might you ask? This was the most uniquely crafted story I think I have ever read. Honestly, if I had based my review on the first 25% of the book it would have been a 5 STAR read for me, no brainer. It completely sucked me in and gripped me; as much as I wanted to put this book down at times, I just couldn’t. I would recommend taking a long, hard look at how sensitive a human being you are before picking this one up, but if this type of dark book is your read, I think you’ll be highly impressed.
“They had gone unto wars, trusting to the mild-eyed stars, nightly, from their azure towers, to keep watch above the flowers’…”
– “The Valley of Unrest” by Edgar Allan Poe
Like I stated earlier, the format in which this book is told is one of it’s strongest attributes. Here we have a former captive and victim of The Butterfly Garden in the care of the FBI. We know that somehow The Garden has been raided and emptied; some of the “butterflies” are dead and some are recovering in the hospital. What we don’t know is how our characters were brought to that point, which is told in three separate acts. There are breaks that allow for the jumping back and forth in time; at times we are in the present while “Maya” is talking with the agents in charge and there are also times where she has gone back to memories that she is relaying to bring us up to speed on what these poor girls have gone through. The time jumps and POV changes were not difficult to follow at all and only added intrigue into the story; many times in a strange, twisted way it left me craving more.
“Yet if hope has flown away in a night, or in a day, or in none, is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
– “A Dream Within a Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe
I feel Like I could write a 10 page review on this book, but it would be too spoilery and ruin everything for the reader. This is one of those books (gosh, do I only read books like this? I feel like I have this sentence somewhere in every review!) that you don’t want to know all the twists and dark surprises ahead of time; a good bit of the books appeal is in the grotesque shock. Part of the reason I didn’t give this a full 5 stars was due to the fact that I felt the first 25% of the book was punch after punch of nasty, scary, twisted, disturbing revelation about The Garden, and after that it just sort of tapered off. Sure, it held my attention throughout the entire book, but it felt to me as though it would have been more effective to have spaced out some of that terrifying content in a more even pace. There was an extremely disturbing account nearing the end involving a child which is a major trigger for lots of people, so there’s your fair warning.
I definitely felt the author did a fine job of developing her characters; I felt apprehensive once I’d finished the book because I was worried about leaving these characters behind, almost like they wouldn’t be ok on their own without my watching over them to recover from The Garden, which I think is remarkable for a book under 300 pages. It felt so odd to be reading a book about abuse, kidnapping, and murder where I felt so disgusted but also intrigued by the bond these girls had with each other and how, while horribly wronged in most ways, these girls seemed treated as princesses in others. It really made me sit back and think about how many similar scenarios there have been in real life kidnapping/abuse cases.
The other reason that I didn’t give this 5 STARS was the ending. Dear God, you gave me this whole fantastic book and ended it like that? I completely respect that the author was trying to whip out an unexpected twist at the end, but it just didn’t make sense. I kept scratching my head at her explanation of some things and it was like drinking a fine, expensive wine with a burger from McDonald’s. What. The. Heck. Other than that, this book was severely addicting and definitely more shocking than most I’ve read, which really says a lot because I read a lot of twisted crap. If you feel you can stomach it, this book is definitely recommended! I’m interested to see where this author goes with her next story.
* I received my copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.