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The Butterfly Garden (The Collector Trilogy) Paperback – June 1, 2016
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About the Author
Dot Hutchison is the author of A Wounded Name, a young adult novel based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and the adult thriller The Butterfly Garden. With past experience working at a Boy Scout camp, a craft store, a bookstore, and the Renaissance Faire (as a human combat chess piece), Hutchison prides herself on remaining delightfully in tune with her inner young adult. She loves thunderstorms, mythology, history, and movies that can and should be watched on repeat. For more information on her current projects, visit www.dothutchison.com or check her out on Tumblr (www.dothutchison.tumblr.com), Twitter (@DotHutchison), or Facebook (www.facebook.com/DotHutchison).
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Top Customer Reviews
I read this as my Kindle First selection for May.
The novel contains violence, profanity, sexual violence against minors, pedophilia, and rape (both of minors and adults). The majority of this type of content is non-graphic, but it is very prevalent (rape is often referred to, but is rarely shown 'on-screen.') Given what the story is, none of the content felt gratuitous. but for those who are triggered by it, or prefer stories without it, avoiding this story might be advisable.
'The Butterfly Garden' is told in alternating first and third-person-limited perspectives: the main character relates her story to FBI agents following her rescue from the Garden. I have mixed feelings about this approach. When used by experienced writers (Rothfuss' 'Name of the Wind' is a good example), a nested story can be very effective. Unfortunately, in 'The Butterfly Garden's' case it ruins much of the suspense: the audience knows the protagonist escapes. From Amazon's summary/blurb, we know most of the other details of what she endured during her captivity. There is little left to surprise us. I found the sections containing the protagonist's backstory to be somewhat needless, and a little long in exposition.
The writer's style is competent and accessible, making for a quick read. Not too many clunky sentences, although the dialogue (especially at the beginning) isn't natural. I found the first-person much smoother than the third-person; perhaps if the entire novel were told linearly in first-person, I would have enjoyed it more. The style is engaging enough that I would likely read another of this author's stories to see her improve.
The protagonist was somewhat unbelievable, as I found her vocabulary, mannerisms, emotional maturity, and so on to be that of an adult. It takes a lot of suspension of disbelief for me to buy that a child who had her background, also had that level of polish. This seems to be more of a YA trope, and I was surprised to see it in an adult thriller novel. (Her knowledge of classic literature is an example of this, and an author making a heroine just a little too cool.) The side characters were underdeveloped in the third-person sections, although in the first-person bits were better.
While on the subject of suspension of disbelief...I don't expect present-day thrillers to require the level of suspension this one does. It was hard to believe in the setting, both that it could exist (how do you find contractors to build this sort of thing?) and that it was never discovered. Maybe in a futuristic science fiction novel, where things can be a bit surreal this Garden would have been more believable. Your mileage may vary, of course.
The pacing was just 'okay' for me. The third person portions tended to exposition, which made those times in the story feel like they moved more slowly.
The 'twist' at the ending was unnecessary, without adequate foreshadowing to make it satisfying for the reader.
Bottom line? No two ways about it,this book was weird for me. I can't say I 'liked' it, but I didn't dislike it, either, despite my criticisms above. If Amazon allowed half-stars, I would give it 3.5 stars, and I would likely read another of this author's future novels.
Maya also gives them a lot of detail about her life before the Garden.
While it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the girls - there are a great number of them in the Garden as well as in an apartment share from earlier in Maya's life - each story is poignant, horrific, and well-told.
The Butterfly Garden is a giant greenhouse filled with lovely plants on an estate somewhere in Maryland. The Gardener is an older man who abducts the girls, tattoos elaborate butterfly wings on their backs, then rapes them repeatedly. His older son is more violent and tortures the girls as well. The Gardener is totally delusional, believing that he is saving these girls, his butterflies, but also believes that a butterflies life is short. Once a girl dies, he embalms her body in resin and displays it as part of his collection.
The concept here is enthralling and while there are a number of inconsistencies (why couldn't twenty or so girls overcome one old man to get out), I could gloss over them as I read, hoping they would be resolved eventually. I was hovering between a 4-5 star for this book until the last few pages.
The ending just ruined this book. It was not believable to me and such a huge disappointment. The inconsistencies were never explained either. Still, the author tells a good story; I just wish she had a better twist at the end.