The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison


Publication Date: 1 June 2016

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Genres: Thriller, Mystery

Pages: 276

Rating: screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-9-39-17-pm

The Butterfly Garden was my first read of 2016. It was a thrilling, peculiar book that I was instantly captivated by. The main character, Maya, was intriguing and seemed as though she had something to hide, and I wanted to know what it was.

Inside a well-maintained garden live a group of young girls, being held in captivity and forced to follow orders from the Gardener. On their backs are tattoos of butterfly wings to portray the Gardener’s weird obsession with butterflies. Maya is one of the rescued girls, and shares her story to two FBI agents to help make sense of the twisted, horrifying life inside of the Butterfly Garden.

‘The techs tell him the girl on the other side of the glass hasn’t said a word since they brought her in. It doesn’t surprise him at first, not with the traumas she’s been through, but watching her now from behind the one-way mirror, he starts to question that assessment.’

From the perspectives of Maya and FBI agent Victor Hanoverian, the truth about both the Butterfly Garden and Maya is discovered. For Maya, her parts are told in past-tense in a story-like way to show that it is what she is discussing with the FBI agents. The parts with the FBI agents are more brief and mostly include them asking her questions, and is written in present-tense. This really helped differentiate whose perspective it was and I was never confused by which one it was supposed to be.

The writing was good and did not distract me from the story like some novels do. It transitioned smoothly from past to present, with consistent and well-structured writing. I flew through the book, and this was because of the fluent writing.

There are some strong themes in this novel that makes it reminiscent to a horror, although it is categorised a thriller/mystery. It was more so that I was confronted by the specifics of what occurred in the Butterfly Garden, and not so much as scared.

There was one scene that was likely supposed to be terrifying that I found laughable. While I found many things about the book strange and horrifying, the strong-willed main character made it less difficult to read about. I did not get the strongest sense from her that she was scared, only that she despised her situation and the Gardener. I did like this about her, though, as it was because of her troubled upbringing that she was like this.

The thing that I disliked about this novel was the ending. It was rushed, unbelievable and made the whole story seem ridiculous. Everything else about the book was captivating and important, yet this strange twist made the rating drop from 5 stars to 4. As unrealistic as the premise already was, I was still able to think of it as somewhat real. The ending made me frustrated, and slightly lost my sympathy for some the characters.

I would recommend The Butterfly Garden to those who love thrillers! Aside from the ending, I really loved this novel and liked how much effort was put into the story.



  • Have you read The Butterfly Garden?
  • If so, what did you think of the ending?
  • If not, will you consider reading it?



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