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  • Butterfly Garden, The (The Collector Series)

Brilliance Audio

Butterfly Garden, The (The Collector Series)

Brilliance Audio

Butterfly Garden, The (The Collector Series)

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Product Description Product Description

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

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…

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Customer Reviews

3.5 StarsThis review does not contain spoilers, however, I do discuss points included in Amazon's summary description; if you consider those spoilers, avoid this review. :)I read this as my Kindle First selection for May.The novel contains violence, profanity, sexual violence against minors, pedophilia, and rape (both of minors and adults). The majority of this type of content is non-graphic, but it is very prevalent (rape is often referred to, but is rarely shown 'on-screen.') Given what the story is, none of the content felt gratuitous. but for those who are triggered by it, or prefer stories without it, avoiding this story might be advisable.-o-'The Butterfly Garden' is told in alternating first and third-person-limited perspectives: the main character relates her story to FBI agents following her rescue from the Garden. I have mixed feelings about this approach. When used by experienced writers (Rothfuss' 'Name of the Wind' is a good example), a nested story can be very effective. Unfortunately, in 'The Butterfly Garden's' case it ruins much of the suspense: the audience knows the protagonist escapes. From Amazon's summary/blurb, we know most of the other details of what she endured during her captivity. There is little left to surprise us. I found the sections containing the protagonist's backstory to be somewhat needless, and a little long in exposition.The writer's style is competent and accessible, making for a quick read. Not too many clunky sentences, although the dialogue (especially at the beginning) isn't natural. I found the first-person much smoother than the third-person; perhaps if the entire novel were told linearly in first-person, I would have enjoyed it more. The style is engaging enough that I would likely read another of this author's stories to see her improve.The protagonist was somewhat unbelievable, as I found her vocabulary, mannerisms, emotional maturity, and so on to be that of an adult. It takes a lot of suspension of disbelief for me to buy that a child who had her background, also had that level of polish. This seems to be more of a YA trope, and I was surprised to see it in an adult thriller novel. (Her knowledge of classic literature is an example of this, and an author making a heroine just a little too cool.) The side characters were underdeveloped in the third-person sections, although in the first-person bits were better.While on the subject of suspension of disbelief...I don't expect present-day thrillers to require the level of suspension this one does. It was hard to believe in the setting, both that it could exist (how do you find contractors to build this sort of thing?) and that it was never discovered. Maybe in a futuristic science fiction novel, where things can be a bit surreal this Garden would have been more believable. Your mileage may vary, of course.The pacing was just 'okay' for me. The third person portions tended to exposition, which made those times in the story feel like they moved more slowly.The 'twist' at the ending was unnecessary, without adequate foreshadowing to make it satisfying for the reader.Bottom line? No two ways about it,this book was weird for me. I can't say I 'liked' it, but I didn't dislike it, either, despite my criticisms above. If Amazon allowed half-stars, I would give it 3.5 stars, and I would likely read another of this author's future novels.3Terribly Written Book. Do Not Waste Your TimeThe Butterfly Garden was, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst book I have ever read. First, I d like to say that I enjoy the horror/thriller genre. I don t consider disturbing depictions of murder or rape a reason to rate a book poorly. Secondly, I m not the kind of person who just hates on books because I don t like the ending or I didn t like one of the scenes. I dislike books that are unbelievable or otherwise don t make any sense.This book is the worst book I have ever read because the premise was mundane and tired, the choice of first-person narrative was a huge mistake, and the final twist at the end will leave you not only angry at how much time you wasted, but curious as to how such a terrible book made it through the editing process. This review will not contain any spoilers that aren t already in the synopsis of this story (which, admittedly, are the only interesting parts of this novel in general). All quotations used are from the synopsis.Part One: Plot and Story FailuresFirstly, and I hate to insult your intelligence with this statement but, the main point of a suspense/thriller novel is to be suspenseful and thrilling. This book is neither of those things. Within the first few pages (and in the synopsis), you know that an undisclosed number of girls called butterflies were held captive by a brutal, twisted man called the Gardner that would go to any length to hold beauty captive. And you know that the FBI has one of the butterflies in an interrogation room: Maya. The book tries to make her out to be a mysterious figure that might be hiding something that could break the case wide open, but at this point, there is seemingly nothing to tell. Nothing they would need from her in order to convict the Gardner, anyway. Still, they hold her there for hours on end prying information out of her. That s a joke. The story oscillates between first-person (Maya) and third-person, and if a story is in first-person, then that means that person is doing a lot of talking. And if a person is doing a lot of talking, it isn t much of an interrogation. On that point, you find out there isn t much of a mystery either. This book is not a mystery, it s a diary; a diary written by a girl that can t write.Maya talks endlessly about her time in the garden and describing what happened there without ever really helping the reader understand how terrifying a situation like that would actually be. You d expect her to be too shook-up to talk about some of the details of her time there, but the book might as well have been written in bullet-point form given the lack of style and emotion. The reader never, ever feels like they are in the Garden. She describes a would-be horrific incident or event with as much emotion as I use when I tell people what I ate for lunch, but with less detail. The reader isn t given a single opportunity to connect with the main girl or any of the other butterflies in the story because everything is written so matter-of-factly. Not to say that the author gives the main character a cool detachment from her recent trauma; instead, the author spends more time trying to convince the reader how horrible it was, than to adequately describe the mood of the garden, or give some thought into how captured, young girls would actually act in such an environment. Just because the character finds something indescribable, does not give the author an excuse not to describe it! If a character in a book I m reading is crying, I want to have tears in my eyes. The author telling me that a character feels a certain way does not automatically make the reader feel that way. There is no emotion in the author s writing style, and to be honest I was absolutely shocked to find out that she was a woman. In the end, and after nearly 300 pages, nothing happened in the book that someone who s watched even a single episode of Law and Order: SVU couldn t guess.The pacing doesn t help either. Most of Maya s accounts in the garden begin with her saying some terrible thing happened, and then describing that event in a lackluster manner. You already know what s going to happen! She s just describing how it happened! That s not suspense! This book could have been partially (like, I would have given it 2 stars instead of 1) saved if the book was written while these events were happening instead of after the fact. Despite the relative shortness of the book, each of Maya s stories feel very long, because you already know how each is going to end.Also, if you re going to write a semi-horror, mystery thriller, don t spare the reader the disturbing details. That s why the reader chose this genre over romance or a self-help book. Diluting all the would-be disturbing moments that would make the reader s hair stand on end to thoughtless euphemisms defeats the entire purpose. The reader wants to be scared of gardens, the reader wants a shiver to run down their spine the next time they see butterflies, but the author makes none of this happen. So, what was the point?Part Two: Character Failures:Not to be outdone by the terrible writing, the characters in this story are equally infuriating. First, I ll start with the cops because they are easy to dismiss. Their entire role in the story could be substituted by the words and then. All they do is prompt Maya to continue her story. With backstories as derivative as a loose-cannon cop with nothing to lose!, they add absolutely nothing to the story. They don t ask thoughtful questions that help Maya reveal pertinent information, and they aren t out on the streets piecing clues together (mostly because the crime was solved on page 6), they are listening to a girl read a long diary, and bringing her water and food. Additionally, does the author really expect the reader to believe that the FBI would allow two men to question a woman that s been through what Maya has been through? This is just one of many details that are incongruous with how life really works.Probably the most disappointing character is the Gardener. The Gardener is a poorly done version of the very popular sociopathic-villain trope. I can t say too much about him without spoiling the book I m trying to spare you from, so I ll just say this: making someone you know to be crazy seem normal is one of the most unsettling things an author can do, but making a crazy person seem normal is not as easy as making a crazy person do normal things. The end result is a villain that doesn t make sense not because the author does a great job making him teeter between sane and insane, but because the author expects the reader to just accept that he is insane because he has a garden full of girls that he kidnapped. I do think he s crazy because of that, but it s the author s job to make me feel it. The Gardner s character never creeped me out or made me feel sick to my stomach. The most emotion his depiction evoked out of me was annoyance.Finally, this brings us to the last character mentioned in the Synopsis: Maya. She is nothing more than the laziest and most out-of-touch attempt at a strong female character. This is a critical flaw because so much of the book is written in the first-person. In order for this style of writing to be effective, the character needs to be critical, empathetic, descriptive (can t stress that enough), and self-aware. Maya is none of these things and the book suffers for it. The author writes the character as if crying is the weakest thing a person can do, and if a person never cries, then they are strong. Incorrect. Maya is an unbelievable character in the sense that it is impossible that a person with her background could exist as she does in this book in real life. The author doesn t write her with any flaws, so she is not relatable, and her current personality does not match her backstory. She s too cool under pressure, too comfortable with men, and too clever for a girl of her years and experiences. The fact that she outsmarts one of the detectives several times is completely ludicrous. Maya does not make any sense as a character, and further dooms this mess of a novel.The rest of the cast does not help this ensemble. They are a sporadic display of the most one-dimensional characters ever conceived, and I am including the seven dwarves from Snow White.Part Three: ConclusionNot all books have to be Pulitzer Prize contenders to be considered good. A book just needs to be entertaining. They should evoke an emotion of some sort. Boredom is not an emotion, and anger at the author for wasting my time doesn t count either. Despite the positive reviews, objectively, this is not a good book. Far too often I felt like the author thought, I ve heard that when XYZ happens in someone s life they act like ABC, so I ll have XYZ happen so it ll explain why she s like ABC, without actually explaining why she s like that! I m not dumb. I don t need handholding to help me connect dots (not that this book had dots to connect), but this style of writing is lazy and shows a lack of creativity. A book is supposed to paint a picture! The author s choice to shy away from the more gruesome details or difficult to fathom emotions show a lack of understanding of the story she was trying to tell the reader. Maybe suspense/thriller just isn t her genre. Maybe the author was trying something new. Whatever the case, it was not a success.Part Four: Small Things that Threw Salt in the WoundWhere was the zoning board when this beyond enormous greenhouse was being built? The HOA won t let me have an iron-wrought fence, but this guy can build a cage the size of Six Flags in his back yard? Please Since I bought a digital copy, I won t be able to burn this book for warmth during an apocalypse.The Gardner kidnaps and tattoos girls with dark skin. Color tattoos don t show up well on dark skin! Why would someone obsessed with butterfly tattoos choose girls with skin tones that wouldn t show the tattoos? I understand that this is probably for diversity, and as a dark-skinned woman, I am all about that, but not when it is incongruent with the story. My feelings aren t hurt when there aren t any black people in 17th century British dramas, and it would not have hurt my feelings here either.1More promise than payoff...doesn't make it a bad readAs a few others have mentioned, this one was a little odd & unexpected. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, the heroine was a bit too cool and psychologically savvy for her background, hooked on the machinations inside the heads of her abductors and co-prisoners to ring true... I still liked the perspectives it gave. The wealth of misogyny and violence was not exactly gratuitous, but I would hesitate to recommend this to most people who have had any kind of experience with such things. Where The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo reveled in the disaffected empowerment of it's lead, this kind of settles for a more realistic traumatized teen who lacks magical genius but coats herself in a cloak of practical acceptance. I was hooked on the premise and wanted the big reveal at the end...and yes, was disappointed. The escapee? Totally unbelievable. The big explosion? Felt like it was tacked on & clearly not the revelation for these people; it was just the end, as the text points out, of the actual experience but not the trauma (which I thought was insightful). The use of butterfly imagery was, twisted into involuntary tattoos, disturbingly beautiful and reminded me to the similar use of literal skin tones in Hannibal when some killer used his corpses to compose art. Beautiful. Utterly repulsive. This kind of has the same taste... I am glad to have read it and will read the next (I have no idea how this sets up a sequel), I enjoyed the writing and the story but it definitely belongs in the cautious-recommendation category.5Dull, no twits, a letdownIncomprehensible how this book can be so highly rated. Essentially nothing happens, then a lame so called twist at the end that no one cares about. A total waste of time1Great idea, lousy executionThe first few chapters kept me reading, I TRUDGED through the last few. The premise was promising but the details did not add up. Characters (Maya, the girls, Avery, the FBI dudes, lady senator) were full of stereotypes. The most interesting person to me was the Gardener but the author did not provide enough background to make him the slightest bit believable and approached making him even somewhat likable at times. Bad character development there. Definitely NOT Silence of the Lambs but would have loved to have had this plot written by a Thomas Harris caliber writer. The ending was ridiculous, and I had to keep re-reading paragraphs because it was just SO CONTRIVED! Take this book to the beach or on a plane, read it, and then be as annoyed as I was you spent the time. Two stars because of what it COULD have been.2Revolting and twisted storyA revolting story about assault, rape, and torture of girls as young as 12, who are all described as being exceptionally beautiful with idealized bodies. It's all too easy to imagine sick individuals intentionally reading this book specifically for that content. No author should ever tackle such subjects in such a glorified and shallow way as Dot Hutchison does. I read to the end, increasingly horrified but anticipating a conclusion that would make sense of the author's choices. The final pages were a complete let-down and I felt sick to my stomach for both having spent money and time on this.1Terrible, terrible, terribleSpoilers follow: This book is all hype and let down. I had such high hopes for this story because the premise is very interesting but it fell short in so many areas. The first problem is the setting; It's hard to picture the "butterflies" ( The kidnapped girls) being kept in some kind of enormous greenhouse (big enough to hold a pond for swimming, a waterfall, a cliff, a glorious garden, a kitchen, rooms, hallways, essentially and entire compound) inside an even bigger greenhouse on the killer's private house grounds. Such a colossal structure wouldn't slip by prying eyes for the nearly 30 years that the Gardener has been abducting girls. It's even harder to imagine over 20 girls being kept against their wills in this place with only 3 abductors. 20 against 3. The girls have access to an entire stocked kitchen with knives and one girl is allowed to carry a small pair of cross stitch scissors. The girls, not a single one, never seize the opportunity to kill the Gardener or his son, even with these tools available at their disposal. You're led to believe that the survivor, Maya, may or may not be on the right side but then she starts singing like a canary right after that and the mystery is lost. I wanted to abandon this book a few times but I didn't because I wanted to see how it ended. Almost the ENTIRE book foreshadows some big shocking revelation and escape at the end that just ends up being lackluster and not believable at all. Maya was protecting her former roommate who was the one butterfly who had escaped 10 years prior, pregnant with the Gardener's child. What are the odds? And the roommate never went to authorities because she wanted to keep the killer's baby (which was conceived by rape). There were women being beaten, tortured and raped almost daily. She knew this and never told the police because of her baby? I also really dislike how apathetic Maya's character is portrayed. She literally doesn't care about anything at all. She's being put through hell and doesn't care. And it's not character development. She never cares. She also takes such great care to not let the detectives find out her real name an this is never properly explained why. She was a runaway. That's all.The author seemed to be more concerned with reminding the reader every few pages that a butterfly was being raped or beaten by the Gardener and his son instead of moving the story forward at an even pace. The fact that the only time Maya shows any emotion is when she's developing affections for the Gardener's other son, Desmond (who discovers the truth and doesn't go to the police until 6 months later) is infuriating. And finally, the way it all comes tumbling down. Avery, the Gardener's son and fellow psychopath, kidnaps, rapes, and brings a 12 year old girl to the garden and suddenly, everyone involved in these crimes has an epiphany that the whole thing, what they're doing, is wrong. Why? There's a 4 year difference between being 12 and 16. It's okay, in their minds, to abduct and rape a 16 year old girl but not one who is 12 years old. What little story there was moved so slowly and it made this book very drawn out. With as many pages as this book occupies, not a whole lot happens that is in any way eventful.1Intolerably boringOther readers have done a god job of pointing out how ridiculous this book is from any angle.Some spoilers follow.I just want to emphasize how incredible BORING the book is. Because if you buy expecting a mystery, you might keep reading due to the fact that it sold a lot and has a lot of five star ratings. This is what happened to me.At 58% I was so incredibly bored and also began to suspect that there was no way this absurdity was going to deliver any surprise or twist, but -- again because of the success of the book -- I kept at it and began skipping, although I read a bit of almost every page.Oh, Lord. You just don't write something which beggars belief to this extent, number one. But above all, it's like reading the diary of a girl kept in captivity with other girls and what happened today -- and the monotony is such that it ceases to matter that she's talking about horrible deeds.As many pointed out, what a MISTAKE to have alternating POVs, one in a present where the Gardener has been caught and the girls saved. Where is the thrill?One is forced to think a writer -- with so many five stars -- cannot be this incompetent, and if we keep dredging through the boredom we will find an amazing twist.Wroooooooooooooong. The so-called twist at the end comes in about three pages of dialogue and it made me hoot with laughter.... WHAT? ... IS THIS IT?????It's not just blah, it's ABSURD BEYOND BELIEF. It makes the whole book really, really, really STUPID.As to the concept, John Fowles wrote The Collector in 1963. THEN this girl abduction thing in fiction was a novel concept. Now it's a tired one, especially if in top of it the inconsistent and badly-drawn psycho & sons seems to have a lair worthy of a James Bond villain.In Fowles' book the obsession was one-to-one, which allowed for the development of both characters, and there was suspense in the woman trying to escape. There was interest in the psychology of both and their changes.You need to read a thriller or mystery where things change. This is like reading a spooky laundry or grocery list that goes on forever.Spare yourselves. Do. Unless you like to be bored and then annoyed.Seems like people don't know how to write this genre anymore...1A serious waste of timeI've literally have never been so disappointed in a book or feel like the time reading it was wasted. Seeing all the great reviews, I wonder what I missed? The story is unbelievable and completely far fetched. The characters: undeveloped, unbelievable and icky. The author clearly has the tools and imagination to write something great. But this book is not great and, for me, incredibly unsatisfying.1Terribad, will actually make you slightly less intelligent with every page you attempt to believeI shall endeavor to avoid spoilers, but be warned there are references to the many reasons this book sucks with an intensity rarely found outside of industrial strength vacuum cleaners.My wife read this book in old fashioned paper, suggested I read it and then promptly lent it to a neighbor lady who liked it and in turn lent it to her mother, from whence it has never returned, so I bought it again for the kindle and read it. My assumption was that it couldn't be entirely awful if three women in a row enjoyed it. I have since learned to regret this tragic decision, though I will admit the book wasn't without any merit at all.So, I'll start with the good stuff here: the author paints some interesting characters and has a very readable voice to her writing. I feel like, if she had an editor with a basic understanding of logic who could guide and correct her, I could maybe really like something she wrote.Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let us move on to the bad and the ugly.Plot holes? The entire plot is a hole, and don't get me started on the twist. To those who've read this book and liked it, how did you suspend your disbelief about the garden, the gardener, and the entire idiotic, unbelievable, illogical plot? Rich dude or not, how did he have that "walls drop down at the push of button" glass prison built without arousing suspicion? What would you tell the contractors? I need a barracks style prison, with rooms for 20 - 25 girls, all with glass walls, but also opaque sound proof walls that can be lowered at the press of a button. Why do I need that? It's for, uh, when I have guests visiting, uh, special guests who don't like privacy and would prefer to be unable to leave. Why the sound proofing? Well, they get pretty loud when they party. Contractors: "oh, okay, that makes perfect sense".That's just one of a thousand holes you could drop the entire planet Earth through in this savagely stupid novel. Want another example? How about this, in what idiotic universe can one man overpower a group of over twenty unrestrained women? Why didn't the moronic horde of women just swarm the one guy between them and freedom? With an average age in the group landing somewhere in their late teens, we're talking over twenty basically adult-sized women, and they can't figure out to group up on the one man holding them?The first thousand plot holes are nothing in comparison to the final brain-mauling monster that is absurdly stupid big twist at the novel's conclusion. Dear lord, I cannot explain the myriad layers of stupid contained in that twist with spoiling this book for you, but please, I beseech you in effort to save a few hours of your life--don't read this book.There are other minor annoyances, but compared to the outrageously illogical plot they're barely worth mentioning. The author seems to have a fixation on unusual names, which doesn't match reality well (in reality names uncommon names are, well, uncommon--look at the census data).Your time would be better spent elsewhere--pretty much anywhere, really.1
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