Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison

Published : June 1st, 2016
Publisher : Thomas & Mercer
Page Count : 288 pgs (E-book)
Genre : Thriller, Mystery, Crime, Fiction
About the Author : Website

"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..." - Nabbed from Goodreads Blurb


It's been a while since I've read a book that kept me up all night. Whether or not this is a good thing, I'm not sure. The Butterfly Garden kept popping up at me on Kindle Unlimited. I don't normally voyage into thrillers. I have yet to read Stephen King (on my to-do list, I just haven't decided what I want to read). I love mysteries, I'm not afraid of the darker tales and the elements and plot decisions that come with them, and I like a good dose of originality no matter the genre or context. The Butterfly Garden has all these things. And I stayed up all night reading it. But, it didn't quite add up to five stars for me. I'd have to settle at three and a half - almost a four. Still impressive and nothing to scoff at. 

It immediately drew me with the way the narrative was constructed and the story presented to the reader. I won't give too much away but imagine we're in a intense, psychologically-thrilling cop movie or miniseries and we start in the aftermath - in the police room interrogating the one person who can give true light to the horror that has unfolded. It's because of this that you're not entirely sure until the very end that you're not being led on a wild, crazy goose chase. That Maya (the communicator of this horrific tale) isn't completely insane from her experiences, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, or just trying cover herself up. There are cracks in her story, threads that need to be tied together (or maybe were already tied?). 

Yet, we understand Maya as time goes on and so does the cops. She's a real character surviving a horrific environment. Things need to be sacrificed, decisions have to be made, and there is very little hope. Not even for us, because, the way the discovery of the victims is describes in the start of the novel leads us to believe it was as accidental and unintentional. Fantastic work there, Police Force. One of the victims was like a US Senator's daughter. The psychological and emotional toll on the victim (or is she?) is clear and communicated. It's not entirely communicated straight forward like but it's easy to see and to understand. 

The pace was a bit slow. I kept reading because I wanted to know what was happening and I wanted to see the ties tied up (or not). The influencing factor on this pace is the creative presentation of narration. It's true to form. And, if we're being honest - if you're kidnapped by a insane man and tattoo'd up, called a Butterfly, raped and molested, and expect to die young, and all of this in a weird underground garden - it's going to be a long, emotional process. It's not all action, it's not all fast-paced. The weight of the trauma is...emotional and psychological. I applaud the authenticity of the writing and the presentation. It just makes the plot drag on for a time in the middle. 

I would suggest this read to anyone who has an interested in thrillers, in mysteries, and can stomach the darker. However, I need to add before I conclude this post - that this is not a Young Adult novel. I saw on Goodreads that some were complaining that it was categorized as such. I wouldn't categorize it as YA. Does is have young adults in it? Yes. They're the victims, the 'Butterflies'. But, that's it. I wouldn't suggest it to a teenager unless I felt they were ready to handle the content. 

Three and a half stars - almost four! The Butterfly Garden will draw you in from the start and - in my experience - you'll go to the end because you're just not quite sure what's what and how it all is going to play out. 

Until next time readers, 

Jess

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