Thomas and Mercer/ISBN-13: 9781503934719/ISBN-10: 1503934713/2016

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson was a harrowing read. It had a unique writing style and a disturbing plot. Once I’d finished this one, it took me a little while to articulate my thoughts enough to write a proper review, but I think I managed it. 🙂 If you pick this one up, you won’t put it down, and you’ll be captivated from start to finish.

However much you read crime fiction, serial killer thrillers, scary suspense novels, you may not be ready for this one. Even those hardened to the genre may question some of what is in this book. It is harrowing and scary and written in such a way that Hutchinson doesn’t need to spell out all the gory details – you will fill them in by yourself, and that makes this one all the more terrifying.

It is written in a different style to what we usually see with serial killer thrillers. We start with the victim, Maya, being questioned by the FBI and work backwards to piece together what has happened previously. This has the affect of keeping bits hidden for longer and making you want to read on to see what went on before. There aren’t chapters in this one, it is just broken up into now and the past by paragraph. It flows so well for me that I never had any trouble knowing where I was in time.

As we unravel what happened in The Garden, we slowly understand more about Maya and her fellow Butterflies. They are being held captive by The Gardener, a sick, twisted bad guy, who justifies his crimes by believing that he is taking care of those he captures, and that he loves them. He treats them ‘lovingly‘ and ‘gently‘, giving them the freedom to roam The Garden, play music, read books. They are fed, watered, clothed and treated when sick. Sound good? How about he snatches you from your old life out of nowhere, drugs you, tattoos your back with butterfly wings, comes to you for sex whenever he likes and then kills you once you reach 21?

“Real butterflies could fly away, out of reach. The Gardener’s Butterflies could only ever fall, and that but rarely.”

Maya is an interesting character. She’s calm, unemotional, sarcastic and hardy. You wonder if she was like this before, or if The Gardener has done this to her. We learn more and more about her back story and how she coped in the Garden and eventually we come to understand her.

“Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing.”

A rollercoaster of emotions will have you questioning humanity and how there can be such despicable people on this earth. You’ll be traumatised by the crimes, but boosted by the relationships between the Butterflies. They keep each other grounded and focused and become a family of their own.

I recommend this 100% and can’t wait to read the next one, but I wouldn’t let a younger reader have this one. Or those who are more sensitive.

Let me know what you thought of it.