When I first heard about this book I decided it wasn’t for me. But I kept hearing and reading about it so I got curious and curiouser and so I thought I give it a try.
Maya is a young girl who survived the Butterfly Garden. She sits in an investigating room and is interviewed by two police officers. She tells them about the things that happened in the garden and how she ended up there.
There is a man, obviously very rich, how owns a large conservatory. In this beautiful garden he keeps about 20 or more young girls as his personal harem. He loves butterflies. And he loves beauty. So he kidnaps girls, tattoos a large butterfly on their back and gives them a new name. After he finishes the tattoo he rapes them for the first time. He sees himself as loving and caring. And he things the girls love him, too. And some really do. These girls get a second butterfly tattoo – on their faces. But butterflies don’t have a long life. The Gardener, so the girls call him, doesn’t want their beauty to fade and so he invented himself his own cruel kind of butterfly collection. He takes the girls on their birthdays, pumps formaldehyde though their veins and fills them in glass and resin. The he displays them in the hall where the girls live. So he can appreciate the beauty of the girls and grieve for them at the same time. The Gardener has to share the girls sometimes with his psychopathic son Avery. He is cruel and likes to hurt the girls, especially Maya. His second son Desmond finds out about the garden later on. He is not as disturbed as his father or brother but he does not want to see what this is all about. He falls in love with Maya but does nothing to rescue her and the other girls.
I can understand everyone who dislikes this book. It is absolutely implausible. There are 20+ girls in the garden and they never ever come up with a plan to escape or overpower the Gardener. They are afraid they will be killed if the plan fails, by the Gardener or Avery. But they are going to die anyway. They don’t panic at the day before their 21st birthday. They just endure it. They are just so passive, let the Gardener rape them anytime he wants to. And the Gardener himself. He is very rich but he has nothing to do than spend his time in the garden. He kidnaps girls for 30 years now and nobody ever noticed something. He has this huge conservatory with rooms to live for the girls and wall which can be moved up and down. Nobody seems to wonder ever what is inside and why only he and his sons can get in. This is so unbelievable and unrealistic. The girls are all so passive and devote, some of the got Stockholm syndrome, which happens, but most of them have not. They just sit around and make the best of it. Even Maya who appears to be strong just sits around and waits. When the Gardener rapes her she keeps telling herself Edgar Allen Poe stories in her head. She somehow has a plan when the youngest son comes into the story but it did not really work out.
What really got me was the Gardener himself. He is so quiet, friendly, caring, even charming. He just freaked me out. He is the creepiest villain I ever read about in a book. He is so assure of himself and of the things he does with his butterflies. It is just creepy as hell. His son Avery is just a psycho. Desmond, the younger son is almost as creepy as his father in ignoring what the garden is all about and telling no one. He just comes in and enjoys Mayas company and thinks this is a normal relationship.
This book is like a car accident. You just have to look even if you don’t want to. It is well written and is gripping. I wanted to know how it all ended. But the end is disappointing and ridiculous. I give the author credit for inventing a strange setting and the most disgusting and creepy serial killer ever (for me). But the story has so many holes and it’s absolutely illogical. But also it somehow worked. I read it and never thought about DNF. I find it very difficult to rate. It was entertaining and very different from the books I read in the last time. I give it 3 stars
A special Thank You to Netgalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review