“I think trauma doesn’t stop just because you’ve been rescued.”
Normally I wouldn’t really be drawn to a book like this. I also wouldn’t normally respond to an email offering the latest Kindle releases for 99p, mainly because of the backlog of ebooks that I have purchased under similar offers and never read. But the blurb of the Butterfly Garden was intriguing enough to make me want to take a chance, and not leave it unread like so many others.
I found this a very quick read, which is good, because it explores difficult subject matter. The main character is Maya, and she is being interviewed by police. Bit by bit she reveals how she came to be there – she and a group of other girls have been kept prisoner by a man known as The Gardener, who “collects” beautiful young women and keeps them locked up in a secret garden, giving them new names and tattooing large butterflies on their backs. Somehow, The Gardeners crimes have been exposed, and Detectives Hanoverian and Eddison have the job of finding out exactly what happened to Maya and the garden.
What really kept me gripped in this book was the difficultly I had understanding Maya’s attitude. It brings to light the complexities of being involved in such a situation – you would assume that a kidnapped person who had been kept prisoner and forced to do things they didn’t want to do, would be full of vengeance against the person who did it to them, that they would spill the whole story at the first available opportunity, that they would be hell bent on seeing that person face justice. But while Maya does want justice, she is also very standoffish with the Detectives, who in turn end up being slightly suspicious of her. They start to wonder why she didn’t do more to escape, and why she isn’t so forthcoming in telling her story. She won’t even tell them her real name, not at first – Maya was the name given to her by The Gardener, and she has difficulty letting it go, remembering who it was she used to be.
I liked the way the story of the events in the garden are revealed bit by bit, interspersed with stories from Maya’s own troubled childhood. And I liked the very simple way the author managed to make sure that any opportunities the women had to cause harm to The Gardener were never taken up – by the introduction of his sadistic son Avery. They all know that if anything were to happen to The Gardener, they would be at Avery’s mercy. For the reader this is incredibly frustrating, but all adds to the frightening and claustrophobic nature of the book as a whole.
While writing this review I discovered that what I thought was a standalone novel is now to be a trilogy, with the second book being released in summer 2017. I’m not sure how I feel about this – the ending to The Butterfly Garden was, to me, ultimately satisfying because of the fact that it’s left unsaid as to what Maya might do next. As yet there is no blurb to give any clues as to what book two might be about, but I enjoyed book one so much I will probably look to read it when it is released.