Book Review – The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

by Maryse on June 3, 2016 · 18 comments

in My Book Reviews

The Butterfly Garden
Oh yes, you can bet that this creepy, beautiful (yes yes! In a way… beautiful), dark, subtly terrifying story pushed all my psych-thriller buttons, without a doubt. It had everything I fear, and then it had something that chilled me to the bone. I was HOOKED.

From waking up realizing you’re kidnapped, to acclimating to a new “life”, bonding with new people (because even in dire times, humans need to connect), to fearing a monster. Or two. Terrified and adjusting, hoping and praying for rescue or the chance at an escape… and then the truth is revealed.

“Remember who you are and then it’s just playing a part. If you start to think of it as you, that’s when the identity crisis hits. Identity crisis usually leads to a breakdown, and a breakdown around here leads to—”

“Bliss.”

“What? She seems like she can handle it. She isn’t crying yet, and we all know what he does when the ink is finished.”

Like Hope, but much smarter.

“So what does a breakdown lead to?”

“Check the hallways, just don’t do it after you eat.”

Terrifying. And yet… subtle in it’s “horror”. This is not your typical horror story, and these are not your usual monsters. Well, one of ‘em, anyway. Creating a sort of paradise for his captives, they are protected and cherished with loving care, but the outside world will never be theirs again.

Di-Ann: Just finished The Butterfly Garden and OMG!! The writing was wonderful with a nice pace. Very unique storyline and a heroine the you feel for! Finished this book in one sitting. Loved it!

Amy: I’m not too far into The Butterfly Garden yet, but so far I *am* loving the writing style. Not too much homework tonight so I get to crack open a bottle of plum wine and get lost in the Garden. :D I better see you there, Maryse!

Maryse: I’m there, Amy!!! I’ll be reading alongside you ‘n Fabi. Fabi. You gonna be there?

Fabi: Yes Maryse, I’ll squirrel over to it tonight once I settle down to read. I can never resist a buddy read.  :-)

Amy: Oh man…there is some build up going on in Butterfly Garden, and when it’s revealed it is NOT going to be pretty. Not. At. All. But I am really, REALLY liking this book! :D Yay Fabi!! Anyone else coming to frolic in the Butterfly Garden with us? If it continues like it is now, holy moly! I’m gonna be GUSHING over this one. *fingers crossed* <—– though I don’t think it will need that. ;) Who else is frolicking in the Garden with us? Grey, Kathy? And Di-Ann is already way ahead of us and finished with it! :D

R. Renee: I want to frolic but Fabi has me stuck on a raft with some hot dude named Bastian. And if he doesn’t let up soon I’m popping that bitch and drowning them both!

bev: I’m not sure that is the type of garden one frolics in.

Maryse: We can try, bev!!

bev: I’m not sure what to think that that is a garden you want frolic in. You’d so be the one in the movie that the audience screams at to not go in there, lol. Lol. Amy, would be all you go first Maryse. And when you don’t come back Fabi would be like screw it I’m heading back to Texas.

Cheryl: *in sing-song voice* How does your garden grow?!

Maryse: Grey come frolic in the butterfly garden with us!!!! Come on! It’ll be fun. *wicked giggle* And yes bev… I would be the one everyone would scream DON’T OPEN THE DOOR!! DON’T LOOK UNDER THE BED!! DON’T INVESTIGATE THAT NOISE!!!!

Amy: Hey, I tried to find a pink butterfly that would be Maryse in the Butterfly Garden…the closest is the Pink Glasswing. So, Maryse is a Pink Glasswing butterfly. And if you are reading (or have read) Butterfly Garden and have gotten to THAT part, then you know just how macabre that really is. *shudder* Still, I couldn’t resist. ;)

Amy: Fabi…right?? I am absolutely LOVING this one. The writing, how it is all unfolding, the perfectly-timed shifts between last and present…ALL of it is perfect for me. If I had to use one word to describe it right now, it would be haunting. Kinda like how Rainfall was for you. Oh wait…your word for that was traumatizing. :P

Fabi: Amy, TBG kind of reads like a movie doesn’t it? With the flashbacks? … it’s dark. I can’t imagine any romance coming through this type of plot. But, who knows. Authors surprise me all the time.

Amy: Yes, Fabi! That’s a good way of putting it. I like how there is the past, recent past (the garden), and the present. And their whole…situation. I can’t stop playing a certain part on a loop in my head and it’s making my chest ache. ACHE. :| BG is dark. Not dark like erotic dark, more like…well, Silence of the Lambs dark. No gore (yet) but just disturbing now that I’ve hit a certain part. And my heart actually aches for these girls…especially certain ones. :( Whether it ends on a 5-star note or not, this one will stick with me for a while.

Ela: AMY? SILENCE OF THE LAMBS DARK??? WHY DIDNT I SEE THAT POST EARLIER? IM SO HATING ALL OF YOU *points a shaking finger towards Maryse* IM SCARED

Maryse: Amy are you talking about the first *oomph* scene? ’cause OMG that was traumatic, albeit… strangely… poetic. UGH. LOL! There are psychos and then there are psychos. Or should I say poetic psychos, and just psycho-psychos? Tee hee Ela!!!!It’s fun!!! Er… in a creepy terror-psych-thriller kind of way. Forge ahead, my friend. Let’s frolic amongst the butterflies. ;)

Amy: The first *oomph*…the *spoiler* scene? Because THAT one was the first one to hit me hard. It was just…so…haunting. And yes, traumatic. Truth be told, it has been haunting me all day. :? I’m actually past that part now, but MAN…every new revelation is just like another sucker-punch to my gut. And GAH! What *is* her role in all of this??? I am seriously addicted to this twisted mess right now.

Ela: I’m scared to forge ahead *whimpers* screw The frolicking

Amy: Awwww come on, Ela!! It’s creepy and haunting and traumatic but it’s SO good…just stick with it! I say it’s like Silence of the Lambs because of the mind messery. No gore. No Guy trying to wear people’s skin. Just…despondency, yet with a smidgen of hope so it’s not overwhelming in how twisted the situation is. If that makes any sense. *snort* Maryse could definitely word it better than that. ;)

Maryse: Yep Amy!! That’s the scene. OH. EM. GEE. Er… okay um…. poetic terror. LOL!!!! :P

Amy: OH. EM. GEE. is right! I just keep picturing…THAT…and the beautifully horrific nature of it. Those two words look so wrong next to each other, but I have NO other idea how to describe it. Michelle!!! Come frolic in the garden with us! Maryse is a Pink Glasswing and I’m…well, I don’t know which one I am… *scratches head*

Amy: Poetic terror. *points at Maryse* See, told ya. ;) Grey!! You gotta join us! It is dark and yet still has a beauty to it. Not gonna even consider what that says about me thinking that way…

Maryse: OMG AMY!!! I was gonna say the same thing!!! That I think some moments are so heartbreaking and touching… and that it’s poetic and terrifying… what does that say about me? YIKES!!!

Grey: I wanna be a butterfly… Don’t I???

Maryse: Er… Grey. Ummm…. I wouldn’t bother asking. ;) Just pick one or he’ll pick for you.. They don’t ask. In the book? They just are. Because reasons. P.S. In real life? HECK NO. LOL!!!!! :P

Ohhhhh and then we went and found each other our “butterflies”. Tee hee!! It was hilarious… you can catch the whole thing in the comments, here. Well… what? *smirk* We needed comic relief, ’cause we were terrified! We were coping. Our coping mechanism.

So what’s it about?

Maya is kidnapped and held captive in a sort of “glass bubble” called “The Garden”. She soon realizes that she’s amongst beautiful captives, all hand-chosen and renamed by their captor (whom they know of as “The Gardener”). They all display a full-size butterfly back tattoo (a different butterfly assigned to each of them, etched into each of them by The Gardener himself).

“You’re exquisite,” he said hoarsely. “Absolutely flawless. Truly a worthy addition to my garden. And now . . . now you must have a name.”

The garden is lush, with a beautiful pond, a manmade rock cliff, and a waterfall. They are fed, cared for by a private nurse and chef, and wear beautiful black dresses that expose their backs at all times. They are “loved” by their captor, as he relishes (and encourages) their individuality. The sweet quiet ones, the spunky outspoken ones, the caretakers. He needs them all. Giving them tools to enjoy their hobbies, allowing for their different personalities, and cherishing the synergy that has developed amongst his “butterflies”. And when unexpected bad things happen to his butterflies…

…he was weeping. His entire body moved with the strength of his sobs, his eyes screwing shut against this unexpected pain, and he rocked back and forth…

But as “coddled” as they seem (compared to some captives and their terrible circumstances and torture that we’ve read about in the past), these girls still face a daily nightmare. The Gardener “takes” them whenever he wants, and well… other things that I’ll let you find out about, on your own.

And don’t even get me started on The Gardener’s son. NOW THAT is your “typical” monster. The stuff of nightmares, indeed.

Maryse: Amy and butterfly crew… my question is, as much as I’m enjoying this book (and I TOTALLY am… I am SO into it) why is it taking me so long to read it? It’s as if I’m reading super-slow… there’s definitely no skimming in this one, though.

Amy: I’m definitely not skimming either, and I’m enjoying the fact that I can savor it a bit more with it taking longer to read. But GAH! So much gut and chest clenching! The twins? And Evita? And Simone? And…oh, just ALL of them!

Fabi: Amy, Des…OMG Maryse, I stayed home from work yesterday and finished it. I felt exhausted after I was done. I don’t know why. But, yes, it seemed to take forever.

Oh yeah… why did I include the word “beautiful” to describe this torment? Because there is an incredible personal growth that occurs within the main character’s current life, and that of a few others. The realizations, the connections made, the desolate pasts…

“You seem to have this strange image of me as a lost child, like I’ve just been thrown on the side of the road like garbage, or roadkill, but kids like me? We’re not lost. We may be the only ones who never are. We always know exactly where we are and where we can go. And where we can’t.”

…and the terrifying present. Yet there’s so much potential for hope, happiness and love. Much change that occurs within her own psyche, a clear realization. A metamorphosis of sorts. And yes, I found that poetic. ;)

And while the story starts out on a GREAT note (the FBI is questioning “survivors” to help piece together this nightmare that they’ve obviously been saved from), the story as the main character (and “mother” of the group) tells it to them, still leaves you wondering just how it’s going to end, really.

“The other girls look to her. I want to know why. They must be desperate to get home, so why do they look at her and choose not to answer questions?”

“You think she might be part of this?”

“That’s what we need to find out.”

Easily four stars for the first three-quarters of the book, but three stars for that almost rushed, incredibly convoluted ending that didn’t at all match the exquisite pacing of the story at all!! I had to backtrack and try to remember stuff, that was suddenly thrown at me, read, and re-read that ending slowly so I could piece together what was so obviously the twisty-unexpected-reveal.

Ela: I finished Frolicking with the Butterflies *so not appropriate * and loved it BUT that ending needed more! It almost felt unfinished or unjustified? I just needed more!

Fabi: Ela, I just finished too. I’m exhausted. Thank you for talking me off the ledge earlier today. I’m glad I didn’t jump ship.

Maryse: Okay somebody’s gonna have to give me a cliff notes version of WTH Butterfly Garden ending is THAT?!!!

I don’t understand. WHAT? WHO? WHAT?!!! I’m reading… and then reading slower… conversations are happening, things are being revealed, and with all the double names, etc… and all the characters in these last few pages, I have NO idea who’s saying what? And what I AM understanding… it’s kind of absurd. WHAT??!!!

And it was unexpected. I certainly didn’t see it coming, but the *oomph* was lacking in that surprise. In fact, it only served to annoy me. I like the idea… I just didn’t like the twisty-execution (<— no pun intended and that’s not an ending spoiler). *snort*

Maryse: Okay… whatever. I got it… I think. It’s convoluted and kind of has a few crazy coincidences and all (that I didn’t see coming, but doesn’t make it much of a twist if you ask me – how fast all that unrolled into one big long reveal), but whatever. I got it. I think. I kind of feel like rolling my eyes. :? Grrr.

Ela: Maryse I’ll post in the spoiler area my thoughts…

Maryse: It just felt lackluster to me… kind of a crazy big ending with an extra twist-reveal, but it was so freaking convoluted and I wasn’t sure if I was reading that right… And then the end. Oh. Well okay.

Fabi: lol Maryse. I posted a bit of a ranting review on GR.

3.5 stars!

P.S. Here it is, also on Amazon UK

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa June 3, 2016 at 11:05 PM

Promptly filed under ‘Do not open ever!’. Sorry Dot, Im sure its a really great book but not for this lily livered wimp.

Fabi June 4, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Your reviews are magic. I love it.

Ela June 4, 2016 at 10:42 AM

Yup! Sounds about right! But I still loved it…

Maryse June 4, 2016 at 12:06 PM

Well it was fun while it lasted… ;) There was a fizzle for me, but I had a good time nonetheless.

Especially ’cause we were buddy reading it.

Now I’m gonna look up Fabi’s review. :D

Kathy P June 4, 2016 at 12:17 PM

Maryse, you are so right. Definitely the first 3/4 of the book were a 4 star read. I agree, the last quarter was rushed. I would have liked a better understanding or motivation of why one of the butterflies did what she did.
It still was fun for me to step out of the box and read something that was not my normal genre!

Maryse June 4, 2016 at 12:17 PM

I love your review Fabi, and I agree!!

For me… I was going with the whole “fear/stockholm syndrome/abused women” issue (which is a real condition) that keeps women from taking advantage of a potential escape, or even “telling on” their abusers.

They just… can’t… for some reason. For some (many) it’s almost impossible, which is why they end up staying so much longer than they should (even when outsiders looking in say “Just GO!!! Just leave” Just fight back!!”.

They are terrified of the consequences, of getting “halfway there” and then being caught before reaching safety… and pulled back, the punishment being far worse than their usual abuse, and “normal” way of life.

And this was an even more extreme case, since they were LITERAL captives, completely locked in with no reach to the outside world.

Maryse June 4, 2016 at 12:29 PM

If it’s the same one we are thinking of, Kathy, I think she was just not all there. LOL!

Maryse June 4, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Then again Fabi, still… just a couple would have surely managed what you suggested. ;) Agreed.

Fabi June 4, 2016 at 12:32 PM

Exactly Maryse. That’s where I forced my mind to be during the story. The well documented and honestly understandable Stockholm syndrome. What made that scenario difficult for me was the sheer quantity of victims versus the quantity of captors.

Please don’t think I make a habit of ranting on a book. I truly almost never do that. But if it triggers me … Anyways, I didn’t want to pick it apart with tweezers so I only wrote about the big holes, but believe me, my mind has a set of steel tweezers. This one hit my trigger.

Ela June 4, 2016 at 1:28 PM

So what’s next chickies? I’m eyeing the latest Skye Warren…

Maryse June 4, 2016 at 2:40 PM

Me too Fabi. I was so frustrated and annoyed by the end. It had SO much potential to give us a good shock… and yet… *fizzzzzzzzle*

Fabi June 4, 2016 at 2:58 PM

I know! There one eyebrow raising moment there towards the end and I though “wow” and then … nothing

Amy June 4, 2016 at 5:09 PM

I’m still SO irritated with what the author did at the end. It was going along just fine, and I could totally overlook some of the “huh??” details because I was enjoying it so much, and then that twist ruined it. Things were just wrapping up a little too well near the end so I figured something was coming, some *GASP* moment which would hopefully be like what we had with Jezebel, especially after the beautifully dark setup of all that the Garden involved.

And then…no BAM. Just something that seemed like a last-minute idea that the author came up with and threw it in there but didn’t have time to go back and add in the details earlier in the book which would have foreshadowed the twist and made it work. Is that harsh? :?

BUT, like I said before…this one WILL stick with me. It may have ended up being a disappointment, but the whole Butterfly concept was so haunting that I know I’ll be thinking of it for a long while. I’m just going to pretend it ended before THAT part. ;)

Amy June 4, 2016 at 5:11 PM

And the best part for me?

The BR with you amazing ladies!!! Y’all are SO much freaking fun to BR with. :D

Maryse June 5, 2016 at 9:54 AM

Yes!!!! I love buddy-reading!

Ruthie June 12, 2016 at 8:59 PM

I just came across this blog and really like it! I stumbled upon it by searching “plot twist for Butterfly Garden”. The reason for my search – I just do not understand the twist/ending. Would one of you kind ladies explain it to me? I really enjoyed the entire book, so much that I didn’t want to put it down. Then that ending…. I reread it and I’m just confused.

Jennifer October 23, 2016 at 8:54 AM

I have the same request as Ruthie. What happened at the end? Can someone explain the Sophie connection? I liked most of the book but when that came up, I was confused but didn’t have time to go back and see if I had missed something. Thanks in advance!

Fabi October 23, 2016 at 1:06 PM

We don’t post spoilers because these blog posts are open to the public and many readers don’t want to know what’s going to happen before they read the story. If you email Maryse directly she may be able to clear that up for you.

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