Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.
In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.
When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.
As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding.
My take: 4 looks
As investigators delve gently into the experiences of Maya in what is known as The Butterfly Garden, a picture of a nirvana prison emerges. The Gardner is gentle and benevolent toward his perfect “butterflies”, as long as each does as he asks. Unfortunately, his son Avery is not as gentle. At this point, it is worth note that there are numerous rapes and some torture scenes, but they are not overly described, and I did not find them outside the realm of the nature of the story.
Told in a narrative of flashbacks, investigators are not sure what role Maya played in the structure of this hellish Eden. She seems different from the others who were rescued, and they seem to turn to her as a mother figure. As her history emerges, woven in and out of her descriptions of her years at The Garden, a tragic, lonely, and eventually hardened young lady is born.
A very fast-paced and compelling thriller, I was hooked until almost the end. Without spoiling anything, the introduction of a surprise “guest” of The Garden at the end was both confusing and unnecessary. The story would have been purer, simpler, and scarier without this manufactured twist from the author. With this, this novel cannot be awarded a full 5 looks.