I recently read Dot Hutchison’s The Butterfly Garden after seeing it all over Amazon. I was definitely a sucker for all of the hype (4.09 star rating on Goodreads), not to mention the fact that, as I mentioned, I could not escape this book’s cover any time I logged onto Amazon (which is more frequently than I’d like to admit).
The synopsis had me hooked.
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…
I was so hooked, in fact, that I decided to buy not just 1, but 2 copies of The Butterfly Garden; 1 for myself (a Kindle book), and 1 for my boyfriend’s sister as a birthday present. Never again will I buy somebody a book they did not ask for without having read it first.
Not that this book was awful; I’ve definitely read far worse (anyone else forced to read Great Expectations in high school?). As a matter of fact, it had me hooked right up until about the last 25% (other Kindle readers will understand my inability to refer to specific page numbers).
I thought the first three-quarters of the book were great. The author created this sick, twisted character (aka The Gardener), whose mindset and behavior stray so far from the norm that I couldn’t help but be amazed by the oddities of the story (keep in mind that this is a psychological thriller, and not a fantasy novel).
Having the story being told from the first-person point of view of a Butterfly Garden survivor added more of a personal touch, which held my interest more than a third-person perspective likely would have.
Unfortunately, something about the novel’s ending really changed my opinion of this book; not so much that I was unhappy with the outcome, but the overall way that the story unfolded just didn’t seem to be executed well, in my opinion. The “twist” wasn’t much of a surprise (not that I saw it coming, but it just wasn’t a big enough deal to draw a reaction from me), and by the time the story was over, I felt as though the entire premise of Maya entering the Butterfly Garden already having known that Sophia had been there was too ridiculous to be taken seriously. What are the odds of both women having been kidnapped by the same person and taken to the same place, when they lived so far away from the Garden?
It’s possible that, once again, I picked a book intended for an audience younger than me (an ancient 23-year-old), but nevertheless, I had to give this book 2 stars in my Goodreads rating. Sorry, Dot Hutchison!