Title: The Butterfly Garden
Author: Dot Hutchison
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Book 1 of The Collector
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I'm not sure there is a descriptive word in English that adequately classifies The Butterfly Garden. It is both horrifying (content and plot) and yet brilliant (writing and characters) at the same time.
It should be noted, in case the blurb doesn't make it obvious enough, that this is a book about awful things done to teenage women. It has kidnapping, torture, rape, permanent marking and almost any other awful thing you can think of that someone would do to a captive. It is not to be taken lightly. And yet the horrifying nature of it all is actually what allows this to be such brilliant novel. Author Dot Hutchison leverages those awful things and uses them to write about friendship, family, and love. By taking the extremes of the bad, Hutchison is able to tell a strong and passionate story of the extremes we can be pushed to in order to find good in our lives.
She has so many names that I'm not even going to bother trying to name her. The focus of the story is two detectives interrogating one of the kidnapped women that seems to be 'the leader' of it all. She tells the story with a starkness that I loved. Her dryness, sarcasm and ice cold demeanor are exactly how I can imagine myself reacting to a situation like this. With little to no compassion for anyone except the girls whom she is trying to 'protect'. I like that Hutchison gives us some background and context for why she is so distant and how she is able to easily accept many things around her. By the end of the story any 'twists' that appear feel natural and obvious because the bond with our lead gal is so strong.
The Love Story
I know what you're thinking... there's a love story?! Sort of. There are off branches of love between the kidnapped girls. There is a twisted type of love that the kidnapper has for the girls. It's beyond deplorable, and yet Hutchison describes it in such a way that I can totally understand someone convincing themselves that their reasons are justifiable. There is also another story of love (of sorts). One that I cannot say much about except that I hope we get a slice of what the future is for those directly impacted in the second or third book of this series. It's well positioned, among all the horror, that love exists in this garden because otherwise how could anyone survive.
Unless you are drastically concerned about some of the content of this book I would recommend reading it. I don't read a lot of thriller/mystery type books in a year so I'm delighted that I chose this one as one of the few.
Call me twisted, broken, awful, etc. but I couldn't put this book down and cannot wait to read the next two in the series that have new stories investigated by the same detectives. Hutchison spoke to a dark place in my soul that didn't even know it craved this story until it consumed me. Maybe those I recommend it to will think less of me; but I don't care because the brilliance of writing, story flow and characterization is too good to be hidden away because of the horror mechanisms used to tell the story.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.