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review 2016-12-17 05:56
A Garden of Butterflies of a Serial Kidnapper
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison


It's 20 minutes past 3 in the morning and I had just finished The Butterfly Garden and I had to because it is really a page-turner. I can't help myself but to finish the book because what was done to make me find out more, it is thanks to Dot Hutchison for doing a fine job in making a reader out of me to continue reading towards such a morning... but where do I start with this book?


The Butterfly Garden is a mystery crime suspense thriller that draws the reader into a world of serial criminals. Firstly, the good stuff.


The book is divided into three roman numeral parts, which I felt I would like to call it The Before, The Garden and The After. Why would this book voted as the second best choice for Goodreads under the category 'Horror' (which I felt, the book isn't really under 'Horror' if you ask me but rather what I said in the second paragraph), it manages to bring that suspenseful feeling of knowing more about a victim, that could be the suspect - Maya, one of the girls that had been held captive in a place called 'The Garden'. Before, she has another name and a life that describes what sort of horrible life she went through until she was kidnapped by 'The Gardener'. She wakes up in a cave that is designed like a garden, with twenty other women, whom were also being held captive as well not their own will by 'The Gardener'. He tattoos Maya a butterfly wings, rapes her as he sees fit but took care of her. So were the other girls that are there. She gets to know each of the girls and know that by the age of 21, once a beauty reaches its maturity, no one ever lives through that age... and like a Butterfly encased on resin, beauty preserves. Do you understand where I am heading with this summary?


So even though the book is divided into three Roman Numerals, the story is told in two scenes - Maya being question by two FBI investigators after being rescued with some other girls and Maya's story before her rescued and what her experience was in the Garden and her life before. This does feels like a method being used and told like Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects. You see, Agent Victor Hanoverian isn't sure if Maya is a victim at all and he needs to know the truth. Interesting enough, the way that the author deliver each page was quite ingenious and had me hook for quite some time. I would have read it in one sitting but there is so much to absorb and to like - especially the description of each character, the Garden, the intentions and goals involved, the sickness of it and to a point the understanding is pretty well-done. To sum it up, I really enjoy it and it has been quite a while I found a book that I enjoy it because it does not really beat around the bush. I mean, yes - Maya did beat around the bush with Victor during interrogation but it was pretty straightforward kind and the exchange of dialogue is challenging. The sick philosophy about Butterflies from the perspective of a serial rapist is well explained of its intentions and why he tattoos them is all cleared and made of. And to read it overall as a book - its a book I held my hands wanting to know more and finally, I just read past my bedtime and now typing out this review means this book is a worthy read.


There are some problems along the way as I read it. For one - the realism of the premise is just unbelievable. I mean - twenty over kidnapped girls in one big cavern garden controlled by The Gardener and one sick older son... any of these kidnap victims can overwhelm them. Maybe the logic behind is that they are very young and afraid but in today's modern world, I do wonder how victims are chosen... especially when one of the victims sort of out on her own loop on the head side. I had to suspend disbelief in order to accept it because it is rather unrealistic. One victim I can truly understand but 20 girls its high maintenance. Secondly, the The Gardener background story, even though it is well explained of its intentions I felt it is rather quite think. The why is explained... its just that the basis of it just don't hold too strong of it. And then... the ending. Well, yes - there is a twist in the ending but rather, I felt the twist is rather weak. I mean, okay I can understand all of that but that twist is just not able to make it deliciously tasty. It just feels like when I ordered my coffee to be hot, it just taste lukewarm. Not that I complained much but that twist wasn't necessary even though it does explain certain parts as its meant to be part of but rather, its not and I would not want to reveal more of it because I do not want to spoil it.


In overall sense, I suspend the realism and get to enjoy the book. Thoroughly it has been a while since I read some thing very good even though there are some parts I do not agree upon. There is no struggle in giving it a four star rating (and not even a 3.5) because its worth that much of a rating. What manages that is how the delivery and flow of the story was written well by Dot Hutchison and since this is the first of the trilogy of The Collector series (not connected to one another), I can say I am looking forward her next book. If she can come up with some thing this good of a suspense mystery, I do not mind waiting for the next one and reads it.

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review 2016-09-14 23:30
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison

The Butterfly Garden is a mystery/thriller type of book that begins with two detectives interviewing one of the victims of a case they just found out about. The problem is neither on of them can really figure out if she was truly a victim or not, and the horrors she is explaining gets more and more strange and horrifying by the minuet.

But, they must tough it out, and let this young woman tell her story how it is suppose to be told before it is all too late.

This book was extremely good. I loved the way it was written and the whole entire story.
It was a mix of mystery, and thriller all in one. I loved the way it was an "interview" and how the main character explained her story, and how she acted throughout the whole thing. I loved the main character as well. She was extremely strong and brave throughout this story no matter what happened to her.

I finished reading this book and felt seriously creeped out. This has a major crazy factor thrown in there, and I totally don't want to see a butterfly again, but other than that this was a great book if you like the psychological thriller type of stuff.

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review 2016-07-02 11:41
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison

When I first heard about this book I decided it wasn’t for me.  But I kept hearing and reading about it so I got curious and curiouser and so I thought I give it a try.


Maya is a young girl who survived the Butterfly Garden. She sits in an investigating room and is interviewed by two police officers. She tells them about the things that happened in the garden and how she ended up there.


There is a man, obviously very rich, how owns a large conservatory. In this beautiful garden he keeps about 20 or more young girls as his personal harem. He loves butterflies. And he loves beauty. So he kidnaps girls, tattoos a large butterfly on their back and gives them a new name. After he finishes the tattoo he rapes them for the first time. He sees himself as loving and caring. And he things the girls love him, too. And some really do. These girls get a second butterfly tattoo – on their faces. But butterflies don’t have a long life. The Gardener, so the girls call him, doesn’t want their beauty to fade and so he invented himself his own cruel kind of butterfly collection. He takes the girls on their birthdays, pumps formaldehyde though their veins and fills them in glass and resin. The he displays them in the hall where the girls live. So he can appreciate the beauty of the girls and grieve for them at the same time. The Gardener has to share the girls sometimes with his psychopathic son Avery. He is cruel and likes to hurt the girls, especially Maya. His second son Desmond finds out about the garden later on. He is not as disturbed as his father or brother but he does not want to see what this is all about. He falls in love with Maya but does nothing to rescue her and the other girls.


I can understand everyone who dislikes this book. It is absolutely implausible. There are 20+ girls in the garden and they never ever come up with a plan to escape or overpower the Gardener. They are afraid they will be killed if the plan fails, by the Gardener or Avery. But they are going to die anyway. They don’t panic at the day before their 21st birthday. They just endure it. They are just so passive, let the Gardener rape them anytime he wants to. And the Gardener himself. He is very rich but he has nothing to do than spend his time in the garden.  He kidnaps girls for 30 years now and nobody ever noticed something. He has this huge conservatory with rooms to live for the girls and wall which can be moved up and down. Nobody seems to wonder ever what is inside and why only he and his sons can get in. This is so unbelievable and unrealistic. The girls are all so passive and devote, some of the got Stockholm syndrome, which happens, but most of them have not. They just sit around and make the best of it. Even Maya who appears to be strong just sits around and waits. When the Gardener rapes her she keeps telling herself Edgar Allen Poe stories in her head. She somehow has a plan when the youngest son comes into the story but it did not really work out.


What really got me was the Gardener himself. He is so quiet, friendly, caring, even charming. He just freaked me out. He is the creepiest villain I ever read about in a book. He is so assure of himself and of the things he does with his butterflies. It is just creepy as hell. His son Avery is just a psycho. Desmond, the younger son is almost as creepy as his father in ignoring what the garden is all about and telling no one. He just comes in and enjoys Mayas company and thinks this is a normal relationship.


This book is like a car accident. You just have to look even if you don’t want to. It is well written and is gripping. I wanted to know how it all ended. But the end is disappointing and ridiculous.  I give the author credit for inventing a strange setting and the most disgusting and creepy serial killer ever (for me). But the story has so many holes and it’s absolutely illogical. But also it somehow worked. I read it and never thought about DNF. I find it very difficult to rate. It was entertaining and very different from the books I read in the last time. I give it 3 stars


A special Thank You to Netgalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

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review 2016-06-17 23:54
The Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison

The Gardener has a beautiful garden filled with pretty flowers, shady trees and a collection of butterflies. But these are no ordinary butterflies, these are young women who have been kidnapped, renamed and tattooed with very detailed wings to resemble the different types of butterflies. And like butterflies they have a short lifespan. But the Gardener will preserve them and have them on display so he can always admire their beauty. After many decades the garden is finally discovered and a survivor named Maya is brought in for questioning by the FBI. This is her story.


This is a very interesting concept for a book. What a world for those girls to live in. I loved how the stories flowed together - Maya is brought in by the FBI who are asking her questions and we go back as Maya is telling them about her past and her time in the garden - it was very well done. I wasn't crazy about the unnecessary twist at the end but it didn't deter me from giving it five stars.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-06-16 22:00
A Wounded Name
A Wounded Name - Dot Hutchison

***Note: this review assumes that you've read the book.***


One-sentence summary: A Hamlet retelling, from Ophelia's point of view, delving beautifully into her fragile mind, with only a few debut hiccups along the way.


Carolrhoda Lab shoutout. I've so far enjoyed every Carolrhoda Lab book I've read, even the flawed ones. Andrew Karre (the editor) has interesting, brave taste, and I always feel stimulated reading his list. Being medium-sized means he can take risks, and the YA lit world is better off for it. Dot Hutchison's A Wounded Name is no exception--aiming for something big, something rich with character and theme, and mostly succeeding.


The plot: see Hamlet, of course. But in this retelling the "king," Hamlet senior, is the director of a boarding school somewhere on the East Coast. His son Dane has been friends with Ophelia for years, but during the course of the novel they become intimate, and as Dane's sanity unwinds, his dependence on Ophelia (and abuse of her) escalates. Ophelia has already drowned once in this story: her mother committed suicide with little Ophelia in her arms (or went to join the morgens, whichever version you subscribe to, real or magical), and Ophelia was rescued by Hamlet, who could not also save her mother. Since then, Ophelia has been able to visit and speak with her mother and the morgens, who live in the drowned city of Ys. Her mother wants her to join them. Ophelia resists, feeling she still has some tenuous ties to this life. We know she won't resist forever, however. Ophelia also sees the eternal huntsmen in the forest, and of course she sees Hamlet's ghost, which in this story is cleaved into two parts--peaceful and vengeful. The vengeful half goads Dane into taking revenge. Both Ophelia and Dane take prescribed medications to keep their demons at bay, which I also thought was a nice modern touch.


The risk of Shakespeare. Shakespeare adaptations are awkward beasts, because the plots of Shakespeare's plays are themselves almost never original to Shakespeare, but are old stories and traditions that Shakespeare liked and adapted himself. What makes his plays "original" is his exquisite language and nuance. It makes me wonder whether the best "retellings" are actually the ones like the movie Clueless, which disguised Jane Austen's Emma with such a fresh take, you weren't bothering to make point-by-point comparisons.


In A Wounded Name, the word-for-wording of famous phrases and fragments of soliloquies thus became a bit of a problem for me. Polonius's goodbye lecture to his son (Ophelia's brother), Laertes, actually contains the words, "neither a borrower or a lender be," "above all else, to thine own self be true," and Dane's words to Horatio on a walk together include, "there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." The "get thee to a nunnery" speech is paraphrased, too, as "Go to a convent, Ophelia." Dane says these precise words: "To be or not to be" and also, "'The play's the thing,' he said. 'The show must go on.'"
A little jarring: this is a world where Shakespeare exists. How does that work? Polonius says that when he was a teenager he was in Julius Caesar, and someone (Polonius again, perhaps?) mentions that "brevity is the soul of wit."

What I loved: Ophelia. I loved that she was already essentially dead in the book. It eased the knowledge that she'd die again, especially because she knew it, but it also made her so otherworldly--so deeply ephemeral, like the raw emotions you'd expect to be the last fragments that a soul leaves on the planet before it disappears. She was already nearly a ghost, and you could see it in the way she barely ate, she didn't register as a person in a crowd, she didn't bother to get to know her classmates, and the way her body was so fragile, so barely existent and easily crushed. I think it's brave and true the way Hutchison ended our view of the world with her death. We know what will happen because Ophelia already knows what will happen. And she knows that this is the moment to take herself away as a tool for Claudius to use against Dane. If you think of Ophelia as already dead, you can forgive how weak-willed she seems to be and see her more as a powerless observer. 

I also appreciated Dane's inner torment, and the way he was both mad and extremely lucid--how his dual personality tortured and treasured Ophelia, how he hated himself for it, but couldn't stop himself--he was the living embodiment of his father's sundered soul. I loved Horatio's goodness, and how he wanted Dane but was happy to be his friend and to support him unequivocally, without intimacy. And I liked the choice of setting it in a school to bring it to a YA audience.
Finally, I liked the way Hutchison ties in a feminist cause with the arrival of the Fortinbras, who will inevitably usher in equal education for women at the school. (Currently the boys study real subjects while the girls are essentially at a finishing school for future wives of politicians, lawyers, and doctors.)
The characters were complex, gray. There was a lot of passion. And there were excellent, veiled sex scenes. I'm not sure how Hutchison did it...putting sex right there on the page in visual detail but not putting it on the page. Those sections were magic, pure and simple.

Of course I had problems. Why didn't the gardener reveal to anyone in authority that he had found the syringe in the bushes? Why is it Ophelia's job to make the accusation? If he brought up what he found, Ophelia's follow-up testimony would have been that Claudius was the first at the scene of Hamlet's death. Of course it can't work that way if we're following Shakespeare's story, but in the present day, evidence of a murder wouldn't just be handed over to a teenage girl, to keep in her dresser or the pocket of her dress, fondling it.

Also, Laertes arrives back from France initially angry at Claudius for Polonius's death, but redirects his anger at Dane and conspires with Claudius to kill Dane. When did that switch happen? In the play, I think Claudius persuades Laertes that Hamlet is the only one responsible, but we don't see that persuasion clearly here.
Problems with the writing.
While I loved it that Ophelia was fragile and ghost-like, we got mired in too many uses of the words "bruise, bruised, bruising:"
Makes my eyes huge bruises against my face.
Bruise-colored eyes (and hair, and gown).
There were repeated descriptions:
night-purple hair
laced fingers
eyes bright with tears


Repeated imagery also becomes a bit heavy-handed: Dane is "The sun where my heart should be" "The sun...burns me till I'm a heap of blistered flesh." "I can feel the star spin where my own heart should be." Color-modifiers are repeated: ice blue, and dead blue. Food becomes ashes in her mouth so many times, it eventually goes without saying!
Hutchison also faltered in telling us (again and again) thematic things we can see, or that we understood the first time:
Dane needs me.
I'm never the one who leaves.
Laertes' nervous chatter: he's the only one who can't stand amiable silence.
Copyediting issues. With otherwise lyrical prose, the repeated words that the editors failed to weed out were jarring: "he grips Horatio's hand with a white-knuckled grip." "It's never seemed important to know the names of the people I'll never truly know." "He's the best of us. And I'm a selfish beast who destroys the people I love the best."
In sum. An ambitious debut, a fascinating Ophelia, and an interesting, serious read.
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