‘The Butterfly Garden’: is there light at the end of the tunnel?

From the perspective of Maya, a young woman who was kidnapped, we are able to find this garden where each of the captive women is a butterfly

Cover of the book

Cover of the book “The Butterfly Garden” by Dot Hutchison. / Taken from: planetalibros.com

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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On the cover, the book receives the reader with a message: “More chilling than The Silence of the Innocents. Beauty has never been so scary.” From there, we can begin to assume what awaits us with Dot Hutchison's The Butterfly Garden.

From the perspective of Maya, a young woman who was kidnapped, we are able to find this garden where each of the captive women is a butterfly. The twisted ideas of the kidnapper, whom she calls the Gardener, become unknown, causing the reader to devour each page to discover and understand the reason for the existence of the garden.

Little by little, Maya is opening to tell in detail her experience with abuse and death in the garden. But, above all, the gardener's strange obsession with his butterflies, an obsession that is finally explained, but never understood. How can you love someone that way? The Gardener is a sweet, sensitive, delicate and careful man with his butterflies. But still, he has them kidnapped and, apparently, abuses.

The Gardener's two children, Avery and Desmond, are also part of the Garden and their father's atrocities. Avery on a much higher level than Desmond, but the second is still an accomplice.

The book is full of complex characters: the Gardener, his son Desmond -because the other, Avery, has nothing complex-, and Maya have a number of nuances that are not lost through the development of the facts.

As the story progresses, a love story (although very unloving) begins to develop with Maya and Desmond. Neither the personality of this butterfly nor the situation in which they are, for obvious reasons, allow a true love story that would probably occur outside a confinement. This is another of the complexities of the book, and, although Maya may have an armored heart, but, as a reader, it was impossible – despite trying – not to get fond of Desmond, who, despite being a coward, has good heart.

Now, beyond the story itself, Maya's entire personal life is shown, how she got there and why she is as she is. Thus we are discovering the reason for her character and, in the same way, we see the transformation that she herself experiences as a person within the confinement.

This young woman lived a life of disappointments so great, that reaching the garden was only one of many. Her rejection of human relationships and feelings are only a shield that she creates since childhood. But life in confinement full of other young people who did have someone to cry on is putting her more and more in touch with human sensitivity. In the end, she ends up creating bonds of friendship and experiencing feelings and sensations that not even the reader would have imagined seeing the Maya of the beginning.

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Should I read the book?

Dot Hutchison already has a path with intriguing books where crimes like the Garden of the Butterflies are discovered. This is part of a series of books that talk about The Collector (in this case, that collector is The Gardener) and although the stories are independent, some characters are intertwined.

Hutchison's way of writing keeps the reader alert. In the case of The Butterfly Garden, there are two voices of narration. At times it is Maya who speaks, and that is when we go deeper into the history of the garden, but at other times an external narrator is telling a little about the investigation and the interrogation that is carried out by the FBI to know the truth. The jump of this narration takes place from one moment to another, so not only does the story itself remain alert, but prose also does not allow the reader to take off their eyes.

The story, when told through Maya's eyes, leaves out some aspects that could be interesting to know. Characters as complex as the Gardener might deserve an in-depth explanation. Thus, the story ends and there are still some questions that, as a reader, I still don't know if I would like to solve them or not.

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