Book Title and Author: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
Series: The Collector Trilogy Book #1
Publication date and Publisher: Published June 1, 2016, by Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Pages: 288 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: 5/05/17
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…
The Butterfly Garden had been on my “to read” list for a while, and I don’t know why I waited so long to read it! This was the first time I’d read anything by Dot Hutchison, but it certainly won’t be the last—I can’t wait to start reading book 2 in the series, The Roses of May!
I was unable to put down this magnificent thriller that was filled with chilling suspense and horror until I’d learned everything that had happened to the “butterflies” in “The Garden” so stayed up all night until I was done—which as creepy as the book was made it really hard to sleep afterward! I’d suggest with the subject material probably not reading it and then trying to sleep…
On one hand, it was so engrossing because the story left you feeling very sick and disturbed by the gruesome and twisted story about what happened in “The Garden”, yet at the same time feeling drawn to the attachments, friendships, and love that grew between the girls in the garden. Every single one of the victims is portrayed so intricately and given a unique personality that it is hard to get them out of your mind. Even if they only played a small part in the book, it will be hard to forget these girls who developed relationships and friendships under the most horrific of circumstances.
The story is told from the POV of Maya, one of the girls who was kept as a prisoner in “The Garden” She’s being interrogated by the FBI about what exactly happened and what she has to say is not only sickening and disturbing but enthralling. She tells her story not only by relaying her past memories of her life as a “butterfly” but speaks in the present tense during her talks with the FBI agents, yet these jumps back and forth in time blend seamlessly together and skillfully tells the story.
As Maya talks, we learn all about her and the other girl’s tormentor “The Gardener”. He’s a psychopath who has been kidnapping girls for three decades. When he takes them, he marks them as his own personal “butterflies” by tattooing butterfly wings on their backs and changing their names. Then he repeatedly rapes them and imprisons them until they reach their “expiration date” at age 21. Not only that, but he allows his equally psycho son to torment and abuse them.
It’s pretty apparent that Maya has some secret as she tells of the horrors of life as a “butterfly”. You really hope the FBI agents are wrong to think she is somehow in cahoots with “The Gardener” since you really, really can’t help but liking her. She’s a wonderfully sympathetic character.
The ending of the book reveals an unexpected twist—and Maya’s secret. It wasn’t the twist that I thought it would be, and it was the only part of the book that I felt wasn’t necessary. It felt like a weird ending to me, but it didn’t make me like the book any less.
This is still a 5-star book in my opinion; it’s addicting, chilling, suspenseful, and beautifully written. Dot Hutchinson has a new fan!