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…
“At night, the creature that was the Garden peeled back its synthetic skin to show the skeleton beneath.”
I got The Butterfly Garden as my May Kindle First book as it had the best reviews out of the bunch you could pick and definitely sounded like something I was interested in reading. A quick synopsis of this book is as follows: There’s a crazy man (The Gardener) who is obsessed with beauty and young girls and so he creates a massive garden, kidnaps a load of girls, tattoos butterfly wings onto their backs so they become his “butterflies” and keeps them locked away until he feels their beauty will fade. But uh-oh the FBI have found his secret Butterfly Garden and are now questioning one of his girls who enlightens us all on what’s been going on inside The Gardener’s massive greenhouse.
I cannot, for the life of me, work out where The Gardener is keeping his Butterflies? It sounds like a massive dome within an even larger dome? I mean, to keep up to 25 people in there at a time, it’s got to be huge, right? It’s got a cliff, a waterfall, a million different rooms, corridors and a huge garden with a pond? Where on EARTH could someone get something that big and be able to hide it away from their wife & society? I find this part of the book makes this story completely implausible, if it was set in it’s own little made up world then maybe it could work, but to be based out in America somewhere?
The way The Gardener was written about and way Maya spoke about him made me feel really uncomfortable. He was described as such a delicate, loving and caring man, when in actual fact he was a rapist, murderer and kidnapper. In a way it reminded me of how Humbert, from Lolita, is portrayed. It felt like Hutchison was trying to toy with our morals, trying to make us sympathise or even like The Gardener even though we knew he had done all this awful stuff. At times you could almost forget he was a monster and that doesn’t sit right with me. There’s something so dark and disgusting about The Gardener in comparison to just any old other murderer in a novel, because he actually thought he was helping these girls, he actually loved them! Definitely one of the creepiest characters I’ve read about in a long time. The whole Garden was described as some sort of sick sorority house. I wish Maya could have described things in a less “so-what” fashion.
Maya was a character I couldn’t quite make up my mind about. I liked the fact she was a straight talking, courageous and entertaining character but at the same time, this made her seem a bit too cocky, and bit overly nonchalant for her situation. I understand her life before wasn’t anything great but she almost acted as though her kidnapping didn’t even matter, it was just a part of life, hey ho, c’est la vie. Also, was she like a trained psychiatrist or something? Cause the shit she came out with was so hocus pocus posh and soothing it’s just impossible to think she could have been living in captivity for so long.
Eddison is a twat. Yes he’s ‘better with suspects’ and they think something’s up with Maya that she’s not quite letting off, but that still doesn’t give him the right to be such a DICK to a girl they’ve just rescued from a serial killer, kidnapper and rapist, who’s covered in burns and is clearly very mentally damaged! Also, how many times can one man scowl? Victor on the other hand was a bit too soft. It was definitely the two extremes of the “good cop, bad cop” act.
This book was right on the verge of being too emotional and meaningful for me to enjoy it, but the macabre nature of the rest of the story helped keep my interest piqued throughout. For me, this was a real page turner, the way is was laid out, in the two different POV’s, really helped to make the book move quickly. There was no fucking about with unnecessary detail and descriptions, it always just got straight to the point in an elegant and fascinating way. The end of the book, Part 3, was a little too soppy for my liking and in the end I wasn’t really a huge fan of how the whole thing ended, but the rest of the book was good enough for me to look past that.
P.S. The Gardener picked some really bad names for his Butterflies.
Edition Published: 2016, Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Goodreads Av. Rating: 4.03