Book Title: The Roses of May
Author: Dot Hutchison
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: The Collector #2
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Date Read: 05/22/17
Pub Date: 05/23/17
Four months after the explosion at the Garden, a place where young women known as the Butterflies were kept captive, FBI agents Brandon Eddison, Victor Hanoverian, and Mercedes Ramirez are still entrenched in the aftermath, helping survivors in the process of adjusting to life on the outside. With winter coming to an end, the Butterflies have longer, warmer days of healing ahead. But for the agents, the impending thaw means one gruesome thing: a chilling guarantee that somewhere in the country, another young woman will turn up dead in a church with her throat slit and her body surrounded by flowers.
Priya Sravasti’s sister fell victim to the killer years ago. Now she and her mother move every few months, hoping for a new beginning. But when she ends up in the madman’s crosshairs, the hunt takes on new urgency. Only with Priya’s help can the killer be found—but will her desperate hope for closure compel her to put her very life on the line?
Oh boy. Where to start. I knew I shouldn’t have complained about the dang ending in the previous book. Deep breath. So last year I stumbled upon a novel titled The Butterfly Garden on NetGalley and decided it looked equal parts disturbing and beautiful, and it was both of those things and so much more. I have raved about that book for well over a year now, and if the ending hadn’t thrown in a few unnecessary details in attempting a shocking twist, it would have been my favorite read of the entire year. It was light horror kept wholly in the natural world; I was stunned at how the author wrote of such nightmare inducing content with a fully readable nature. TBG might very well stay in my list of most memorable reads; it was just that good and I highly recommend it to anyone with a strong enough stomach. All this to say, my expectations were extremely high when I found out the story was being extended into a trilogy. Perhaps I misunderstood, but in my opinion this really isn’t a continuation of the original story as much as it is a spin off. We are briefly introduced to a family who’s daughter was murdered years prior as they are close to one of the FBI agents investigating TBG; The Roses of May focuses on their back story while also creating a forward narrative of the serial killer who took the life of Priya’s sister Chavi.
Once I realized this story wouldn’t focus on the butterflies or their pending case in court, I was still excited to read it. I love crime fiction and I was convinced Hutchison would bring us that same horror we loved from the first collector novel, just with the focus being on a different story. If you are expecting anything remotely close to the feel of the first novel, let me stop you right here. This book was NOTHING like the first one, and that is both good and bad. Unfortunately, this one didn’t work as well for me, as I had picked this up in order to feel things that I experienced previously in the series. If I had known this would be an entirely different book, I likely would have given it at least another half star. I was worried at about 25% in; I was having so much difficulty remembering many of the previous minor characters from the first story and we have a large number of new characters introduced as well. All the names were throwing me for a loop, and on top of that the pacing is VERY slow. VERY… SLOOOOOWWWW…. Ok, you get it. Honestly, I would categorize this slow burn more as crime fiction with a sub genre of police procedural. Heavily procedural. We get a lot of detail in every aspect of the plot, which left little room for suspense to carry us through the story with any sense of urgency.
Once I made it about 50% in I finally was able to connect on some level with the story, and while I never was completely engrossed, I managed to develop a feeling of moderate interest in where it was going, who was behind the murders, and how this would all wrap up. I was satisfied with the ending, but I think what made me bump this from a 2 star to a 3 star read was how impressed I was with the author’s improvement in her quality of writing and language use. While I was goo goo over TBG, it did hold a quality of immaturity in some aspects. The phrases were repetitive, the language very basic, and it held a somewhat young adult aura that I couldn’t quite shake. Not so here; TROM was very much adult writing; the phrases were beautiful and well thought out and I am highly impressed that there was such a jump from one book to the next in that arena.
I’m not really sure where the next book will take us, as this one wrapped up pretty much every aspect with a neat little bow, but I also felt the last book had given essential closure, so I guess I’m not a great judge of that sort of thing. I will say that while I’ll probably read the next book so that I can finish out the trilogy, I likely won’t rush to get to it like I have the past two. I did eventually connect with the characters and find pleasure in some of the beautiful writing, but I fear the slow burn and complete genre change between the first and second book in the series didn’t quite work for me. I’m eager to hear other’s thoughts, as I know some readers have thoroughly enjoyed how the author chose to write this new entry. I think if someone were to be made aware of the pacing and changes in this book ahead of time, it might make it a more enjoyable read, so I hope I’ve been able to provide that for someone somewhere. ❤
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.