What a sweet title! One would expect a lovely story about a group of women sipping tea in a butterfly garden. Yet this butterfly garden is unlike any other. This garden is created by a serial killer who decorates his young, lovely victims with butterfly tattoos.
I’m not even sure why I bought The Butterfly Garden. I always read the descriptions and it’s unlike me to purchase something so grisly and disturbing. But I’m glad I did.
Author Dot Hutchison begins the story in a police station where a young woman called Maya is being questioned. Maya is a tough young woman who isn’t exactly forthcoming at the beginning, so there is some question as to whether she is somehow complicit in a series of gruesome murders performed by a man known only as The Gardener. Drip by drip, word by word, she tells the story of the Garden and the young women in it: women The Gardener kidnapped, tattooed, killed, and preserved because butterflies have a short life span.
The Gardener has a lot of contradictions. He can be charming, loving even. In fact, everything he does is out of love, even when he’s at his most twisted and brutal.
The interplay between Maya and the detectives, Hanoverian and Eddison, helps bring the story to life. Through the telling of the story, we learn more about these detectives and what motivates them to continue working in a field that can be exhausting, frustrating, and draining. Since The Butterfly Garden is the first in a series, one presumes we will continue to follow the detectives in future books.
This type of story normally isn’t my cup of tea, but I have to say I liked it very much. Maya emerged from her cocoon, as it were, as the story unfolds, and I found myself aching for the lost years (and lives) of these fictional characters.