My rating: 5 of 5 stars
5 out of 5 Stars
‘“Someone is just dead!” said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.’ And that stupid little girl stood in the winter and kept lighting matches to catch glimpses of families that weren’t—could never be—hers and froze to death in those harsh moments of reality between matches, because even though matches can burn, they’re light, not heat.”
Dark, disturbing, deeply deranged. A serial killer takes beautiful sixteen-year-old girls to his Garden, claims them as his own by inking intricate butterfly wings on their backs, renames them, rapes them, and calls them his Butterflies. When a girl reaches her twenty-first birthday, he kills them. He is their Gardener.
A mysterious explosion allows the police to rescue thirteen of the Butterflies from their captor’s prison. With the Gardener in a comatose state after the explosion, the FBI look to one of the girls for answers. She is clearly their leader, and they will not speak before she does. She’s hiding something, something that may explain…everything. Special Agent Victor Hanoverian listens intently to “Maya’s” story, but time is running out.
The narrative switches between present day and events that transpired along a period of about three years, with a few events in Maya’s personal life when she was a child. Maya is sardonic, straightforward, and incredibly intelligent. She’s strong, yet completely broken at the same time. Agent Hanoverian is likable and honest. The Butterflies are tragic but tenacious. The Gardener is disgusting and evil, but in his twisted mind, he truly loves his Butterflies. This book is so multi-dimensional and delicious but gut-wrenchingly hard to read at times. I could NOT put this down.
No pet peeves here! Dot Hutchison’s writing style is so captivating that at times I felt like I wasn’t reading at all, I was just watching everything unfold in my mind’s eye. There are many, many rape scenes in this book, but they are not gratuitously descriptive and allude to what is happening instead of making you read about it. I don’t think I could have handled this book if not for Hutchison’s writing abilities. There is a lot of cursing in this book as well, but that isn’t something that bothers me personally, especially in a book such as this. Trigger warnings: rape, suicide, and abuse.
I don’t really know where to begin with my praise of this novel. I started it Monday evening and finished it the next day. I was absolutely hooked from chapter one. I love Maya’s character, her brokenness, her love of reading, her frankness, her strength. Her tragic past was very difficult for me to read as a parent because I could never imagine abandoning my son the way Maya’s parents abandon her. You hate the Gardener, you know he is evil, but somehow you hate him less than his horrific son Avery. I do love (to hate) complex villains that sometimes make you forget how evil they are before you snap back to reality and remember that they’re a freakin’ psychopath.
I could talk endlessly about this book, but I won’t. Because you should be reading it, like, right now.
If you love thrillers, serial killer mysteries, and tough leading ladies, then this book is absolutely for you.