“And he realizes that no, he doesn’t have to be here. There’s no Bureau requirement, no order, no generally agreed guideline, nothing official that mandates his presence at the funeral of a girl who killed herself because the seams where she broke the first time were too fragile to stitch together a second time.”
It’s hard enough on the agents when the butterflies start falling apart, but suicides of girls who can’t seem to fit back in outside of the Garden are only half of the heartache that Eddison has to face down now. While the girls await their day in court with the Gardener, another killer is at large: the Spring Killer, who kills one teen every spring, and has done so for 17 years without exposing himself. His only marker is the flowers that he leaves around each girl’s lifeless body.
Eddison may not have a younger sister in blood anymore, but he’s got Priya, a spunky London transplant whose older sister Chavi was one of the Spring Killer’s victims 5 years prior. Though Priya and her mother have moved across the country to Colorado to escape their past, something is looming on the horizon that has Eddison terrified. These women are the only family he’s got left, and he’ll be damned to lose them.
If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you probably already know that The Butterfly Garden, book 1 in The Collector series, was a 5-star read for me; in fact, it was easily one of my top reads of 2016. I was so excited when I got approved for an ARC of this sequel on NetGalley, but this book actually took me a few days to get through (I only note that because the first book was practically a one-sitting read for me). To be totally honest, Dot Hutchison ripped my heart into so many tiny pieces in The Butterfly Garden that I was a little bit terrified to read more of her writing.
That said, I am so glad that I read this, because I really enjoyed it so much. It took a little bit of time to get into, as the beginning did feel a little slow, but once Dot got into the meat of the story, I ate it up. While the first book alternated POVs between Inara’s memories and Vic Hanoverian’s detective work, this one alternated between Priya’s first-person experiences and Eddison’s third-person investigations and experiences, as well as brief bouts of second-person thoughts from the killer (which was AMAZING). I love the way Dot seamlessly switches perspectives, and she’s mastered each formatting so well, which isn’t something just any author can do. I also was kind of ecstatic to see the trio of agents back again, especially with the focus having shifted to Eddison; it made me wonder, will the third and final book in the trilogy come from Ramirez’s POV? One can only hope, because I’m kind of in love with her character’s sass.
Speaking of character development, Priya was such an enjoyable narrator; she and her mother are Indian, but have moved to the States from London, so there’s some really delightful backstory revealed here and there. Her mother, Deshani, is a firey badass who terrifies everyone she meets (except Priya), and she was just so fun to read about. There’s a lovely diverse cast in this book, even more so than in the first one, and there are so many wonderful side characters, especially in the cast of grumpy old veterans that Priya befriends.
As far as action goes, it took a while to pick up, but Dot took her time carefully crafting the back story so that, once the action began, I really felt like she just dove in headfirst. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the kind of book with ridiculous new situations and events every other chapter, but she builds up the sense of dread so beautifully that I felt nauseated more than a few times, just out of apprehension for what was going to happen and who the killer would turn out to be. I wasn’t shocked by the reveal of the killer, but I honestly don’t think we were intended to be taken off-guard; much like in a good horror film, sometimes the best part is learning who the villain is through little crumbs here and there.
The story was lightened up here and there with sweet familial bonding, friendly banter between Eddison and Inara (who makes a solid reappearance, much to my delight), and Priya’s memories, but all in all, this was a solid thriller/suspense novel that kept me on the edge of my seat more than a few times. I won’t say anything further to avoid spoiling it for you guys, but seriously, if you enjoyed the first book, please pick this one up, because it’s SO damn good. I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys thrillers and can handle being kept up at night a little bit, pondering the horrors of mankind.
Content warning: this book contains physical and sexual violence, and may be a difficult read for survivors of abuse or anyone with a weak stomach for abuse. Please read at your own risk and keep yourself healthy and happy.