Monday 21 March 2022

Book Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison book cover

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 saviours, 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...

Dark and disturbing, The Butterfly Garden is a mysterious, suspenseful story of one man's obsession with the preservation of beauty. 

Teenage Maya is kidnapped and stolen away from her friends, her job, and her old life. She's brought to live in the butterfly garden, transformed into one of the mysterious Gardener's specimens, and urged to forget all traces of her previous existence. Luckily for the other girls in the garden, Maya is strong-willed, independent, and never quite manages to let go of the girl she was before. 

This all leads to an interrogation room, where Maya must recount her story to a pair of FBI agents. With plenty of unanswered questions and the unspeakable horrors of the garden hanging in the air between them, can the agents trust Maya to tell the truth? 

The story is told mostly through flashbacks, yet this doesn't mean it loses its pace or the interest in knowing how it will end. Instead, this lends an air of anticipation to the book, especially towards the end where the events being recounted start to speed towards the present-day interrogation. It's unusual in this sense but is pulled off very well. 

Maya is an enigmatic, multi-faceted young woman who is also a brilliant main character. Some parts of the book make for difficult reading, but overall, this is a very strong thriller novel.

Rating: 4 stars

The Butterfly Garden is available to buy now.

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Have you read the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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