The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

"Collectors don't let butterflies fly free. It defeats the purpose."

Welcome to the garden, a massive glass-enclosed piece of land filled with only the most beautiful things. The Gardener has meticulously curated his enclosure. The habitat within contains rolling green space, a waterfall-fed stream, and countless butterflies, each as beautiful as it is unique. In the center of the grand atrium lies a building. From this place, the Gardener houses his collection, carefully tending to each specimen. Even in death, he marvels at their beauty, preserving each butterfly in a resin-filled glass. Despite the pride he takes in his collection, the Gardener knows it must remain a secret. His collection is as macabre as it is beautiful, a living contradiction of splendor and horror. These butterflies, you see, are not insects but captured women, each tattooed by The Gardener with a large detailed recreation of the very animals they are named after. 

Agents Hannoverian and Eddison aren't quite sure what to make of the case that they've been assigned to. The situation that has unfolded in the last several hours would have been inconceivable the day before, but here they are. The fire alerted the authorities to the glass structure, and what they found is nearly indescribable. The women who survived the incident are in various levels of mental and physical ruin, most either unable or unwilling to speak of the horrors that they've endured. The man who perpetrated this evil has kept his mouth shut too. If he survives his injuries, he will face a very long and public trial for his misdeeds. But how will these agents make sense of the unimaginable? The fate of the investigation and lives of those involved lies in an unlikely source. 

Maya was one of the butterflies. For her, life in the garden was sadly similar to her life outside. The abuse and emotional torment she faced before being captured helped to fortify her against some of the most heinous parts of the garden. She is, at the start of the investigation, the only person involved who seems willing to speak about what happened there. Slowly and in her own time, she tells her story. Agents Hannoverian and Eddison are eager to learn every detail of her experience in the garden but are also wary of just how factual her retelling is. Is Maya merely a victim, or is she working for the very monster who kept her captive?

Dot Hutchison's The Butterfly Garden evades nearly every attempt to describe or classify it. She has written a novel that is part thriller, part horror, part psychological suspense, yet even those genres fail to fully capture the essence of what her story is. The subject matter is dark. Hutchison never gets graphic in her descriptions, but the mere hint of what happens to her characters set my imagination ablaze. There is something hauntingly mesmerizing about the novel. At times the events that occurred left me uncomfortable, but I couldn't stop reading. I had to see this story through. Hutchison balances the atrocities that befall the women with quieter moments where they find solace in each other and their memories of a life before. Even in the most inhuman of situations, the connection of humanity shines through. The Butterfly Garden serves as the first book in Hutchishon's The Collector series, though the novel works just fine on its own. That being said, I can't help but be curious about what happens next. 

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads

(2021, 45)

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 13, 2021 and is filed under ,,,,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

12 Responses to “The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison”

  1. Wow. This sounds like it's quite the read. Despite the novel's darkness, I'm intrigued by this one, if only to see how the author pulls it off. Great review, Ethan!

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    1. It really balances the creepiness with humanizing the victims. I highly recommend it!

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  2. That premise is creepy, and way to keep the reader off balance with Maya.

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    1. The question of whether or not she can be trusted really ramps up the suspense.

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  3. Sounds like a chilling read! Those poor women! Wonder how Maya ultimately fits in.

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    1. It haunted me even after I finished reading it. I decided to give myself a break from the material before continuing with the series. I may have to just read one book a year.

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  4. A friend recommended this to me several years ago and it's been languishing on my TBR ever since. I'm so glad your review has put it back on my radar.

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    1. It is well worth a read! It will probably end up being one of the most memorable books I've read all year.

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  5. I should be getting this one any day now. I am #2 on four copies, so...

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    1. I hope you love this one as much as I did! Weeks later, I'm still thinking about it.

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  6. I remember seeing this one around but didn't know what it was about. Now that I know, I want to read it. Great review!

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