In a beautiful garden hidden away on private land, young women are kidnapped and kept as butterflies, tattooed and preserved by a man known to them only as the Gardener. After more than 30 years, the garden has been discovered and a survivor is bought in for questioning. As the girl tells her story, FBI agents Hanoverian and Eddison start to think that there may be more to her story than she’s letting on.
The Butterfly Garden is truly horrendous and awful but so, so brilliant. There are heavy themes of rape, violence and other abuse, but, although they are explicitly mentioned, these are never explicitly described. As I said, completely horrendous subject matter but a fantastic detective/thriller story.
There were, one or two problematic factors, such as how no one even tried to escape (despite having possible opportunities and weapons), but it was sort of understandable at the same time: they were scared and honestly didn’t think they had a chance. I also did not like the twist at the end (no spoilers), but the rest of the story was excellent.
Maya was an interesting character because her narrative voice was so strong. She was a completely believable character and hearing the story through her was great. However, I didn’t really like her personality (although I’m not totally sure we’re really meant to). There were a lot of other strong characters, some of which we see much more than others. My personal favourites were Bliss and Special Agent Victor Hanovarian.
The story being told through an FBI interview with Maya was brilliant. It was a very effective way of telling the horror story of the garden, while keeping the book within the detective/crime genre and it gave the story a much more interesting perspective.