The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
"At night the Garden was a place of shadows and moonlight, where you could more clearly hear all the illusions that went into making it what it was."
The Butterfly Garden radiates a dim unpleasantness that attracts the reader. It guarantees an account of magnificence and loathsomeness.
The book is set in the present, with two FBI special agents attempting to reveal the story behind the crime they have recently discovered. What they know is that they have uncovered "The Garden", a jail where an insane person known as "The Gardener" has kept young ladies imprisoned for a considerable length of time. He calls them "Butterflies", attaching wings to their backs after renaming them, assaulting them, and giving his brutal son a chance to terorize them.
"During the day there was conversation and movement, sometimes games or songs, and it masked the sound of the pipes feeding water and nutrients through the beds, of the fans that circulated the air. At night, the creature that was the Garden peeled back its synthetic skin to show the skeleton beneath."
It is the witness they are meeting – referred to just as Maya – who truly comprehends what it feels like to be behind the garden walls, and the reality behind what happens to the young ladies when they turn twenty-one. What's more interesting, she quite possibly knows something more. As she relates the story of her life as a hostage, it turns out to be evident that she is concealing something, and the agents start to address what part Maya played in the crime.
“Honestly? I don’t think I know what that kind of love is. I’ve seen it in a few others, but for myself? Maybe I’m just not capable of it.”
“I can’t decide if that’s sad or safe.”
“I can’t think of any reason it can’t be both.”
The book is both chilling and frightening, but then the tale is so perfectly told: the ideal balance of offensiveness and magnificence.
What's more, Maya is the ideal storyteller. Secretive, skeptical, thoughtful. Loaded with mysteries that keep us coming back, yet it is agreeable for us to be pulled into the personal stories. The writer is not far from odd subtle elements, yet the novel is so elegantly composed, and each character so perfectly drawn, that the action never feels needless or intentionally shocking.
“You seem to have this strange image of me as a lost child, like I’ve just been thrown on the side of the road like garbage, or roadkill, but kids like me? We’re not lost. We may be the only ones who never are. We always know exactly where we are and where we can go. And where we can’t.”
Carrie by Stephen King
It's extremely intriguing to read Carrie at long last. There are a few books that, if you realize what will happen, all the fun gets ruined and you won't be intrigued enough to read on.
Yet here, Stephen King gives you all the key points immediately. You haven't read even a couple of pages before you realize that Carrie White has Telekinetic forces and that something truly terrible occurred on Prom Night.
“She did not know if her gift came from the lord of light or of darkness, and now, finally finding that she didn't care which, she was overcome with almost indescribable relief, as if a huge weight, long carried, had slipped from her shoulders.”
Possibly, these days, it would be a truly standard approach to recount a story the way Stephen King did, but 40 years ago? A visionary style!
The book was Stephen King’s first published work. He couldn't know then that the book would turn into a winner. However, suspecting that would happen, it was smart not to hold up the story a long while before giving away the basic information. You can read the book 40 years after the novel was first published, knowing the story in advance, and still you get connected with the book the moment you read the introduction.
“High school isn't a very important place. When you're going you think it's a big deal, but when it's over nobody really thinks it was great unless they're beered up.”
The narrator describes the "current" occasions in the narrative with portions of reports written "later on" in the story. One component in Carrie is that its fundamental theme is still as applicable now as it was in 1974, since the point is the bullying. The tormenting is the principle trigger in the story, and you can't deny that it's a theme that, tragically, is as relevant now (if not more so) as it was in 1974.
Therefore, Carrie hasn't aged, and it hasn't lost its voice for new generations of readers. I feel that the fundamental storyline and plot are well set and created.
“People don't get better, they just get smarter. When you get smarter you don't stop pulling the wings off flies, you just think of better reasons for doing it.”
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
“On the morning of the exorcism, I stayed home from school.”
The book is about a family that was featured on Possession, a reality TV show, which was, as the name suggests, about demonic possessions. The show features a New England family: mother, father, two little girls. What's more, the eldest, a fourteen year-old, is having some sort of mental breakdown and might be under the control of evil spirits.
The story is told from the viewpoint of the youngest girl, after the action in the book actually happens. She discloses her story to an essayist who is composing a book about the show and the family. What, precisely, he plans to do with the book, is not evident. A large portion of the book is told from the perspective of the essayist as a kid. These parts remain in character generally, with just a couple of minutes where she anticipates things that she could know only at a later point in her life.
“To be honest, and all the external influences aside, there are some parts of this that I remember in great, terrible detail, so much so that I fear getting lost in the labyrinth of memory. There are other parts of this that remain as unclear and unknowable as someone else’s mind, and I fear that in my head I’ve likely conflated and compressed timelines and events.”
The book is fantastic.
For a horror novel, it's not too unnerving, but rather it is the topic that places it into the horror novel camp — however more in a meta-scary sort of a way. The impact of this style makes an intriguing feel to the story, yet one which never feels like it's in effect excessively constrained. It is acting quite naturally in the book.
This last part is loaded with a few spoilers, so it would be better to skip analyzing it. Take it as a given that the book brings a considerable measure of fun, and that you should try it out.
“It was so dark it was like nothing was there in the room but us. Only the nothing was actually something because it filled my eyes and lungs and it sat on my shoulders.”