The Butterfly Garden (Dot Hutchison)

This is a psychological/mystery/horror thriller – that won’t be to everyone’s liking; due to the subject matter. (And there’s bound to be a big screen version) It starts off with two FBI agents, Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison, interviewing a young woman, Maya/Inara, who was rescued with other girls that were being held captive by a person only known as ‘The Gardener.’ The garden is a New York–set paradise complete with beautiful trees and flowers, streams and ponds, a cliff and a waterfall. But in reality it is a prison, fully enclosed by walls and glass within a larger garden from which there is no escape.

Here, the girls are looked after and can roam freely, but each has been tatooed with the wings of a species of butterfly and are kept captive to fulfill the sexual fantasies of the Gardener. The story is told in third and first person perspectives. The third person being in the interview room (mainly), and the first person is where she gradually tells her backstory of how she ended up becoming a ‘butterfly’ – which is not fast enough for Eddison. He wants to push the suspect/witness harder – but Hanoverian is more patient than his partner. She does like to wind Eddison up, when an opportunity presents itself, which is fairly often. The Gardener’ kidnaps, tattoos and then rapes his victims; once the tattoo (of a butterfly) is complete.

Each girl has a different butterfly and namesake: The gardener lives in a mansion, which has an outer garden; but its the inner garden area where the girls are kept; so no-one knows they are there. The girls’ have their own designated rooms and showers; they are fed well, and are given clothing to wear; specifically what ‘The Gardener’ wants them to wear, of course. And they seem to make the best of the hand they’ve been dealt; despite knowing their ultimate fate, in which the ‘Walls of Glass’ is a constant reminder. I’m still trying to eradicate that image from my mind. Anyway, birthdays aren’t a time of celebration. Why don’t they try to escape? Well, there’s only one way in; and the door is key-coded.

Plus, self-preservation is a good motivator: they’re scared. The Gardener is bad enough, but he’s not the only threat; there’s another. The captives seem to have ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ – but they’ve been conditioned to behave; except for one, who does have ‘Stockholm Syndrome – and she’s the cook-nurse. When a girl dies, another will take her place, when ‘The Gardener’ goes hunting for a replacement. In Summation: It’s an interesting story, which is a bit of a slow burn; mainly because Hanoverian doesn’t push Maya/Inara too hard, I guess. The switching from the third to the first person narratives took a bit of getting used to, as it happens often. And there was a surprise at the end I didn’t see coming. I’ll definitely be checking the sequel ‘The Roses of May’ out when I have a spare weekend or two.


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