Review: The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…


The Sun Down Motel isn’t a book I would normally reach for. I like a good thriller, but a ghost story isn’t my thing at all. I ended up with The Sun Down Motel after accidentally forgetting to cancel my Book of the Month subscription. It sat around for a couple of months until I was in the mood to challenge myself. I’m really happy I ended up with a copy of it because it was a fantastic read — ghosts and all.

The mystery of the dead and missing girls was fascinating to me. I loved how it was woven between Viv and Carly’s point of views. Their stories were similar and yet completely different. I enjoyed adding up all the revelations  and being surprised at some of the twists and turns.

The ghost aspect of this story creeped me out. I have to admit that I could only read it during the day. I am a wimp when it comes to that stuff, so take this comment with a grain of salt. Once I got used to the ghosts and what was happening, I didn’t get as freaked out. I loved how the Sun Down Hotel became a character of its own through the ghosts who inhabited it.

I don’t want to give anything away about this book, so I’m just going to leave everything else unsaid. The Sun Down Motel was a well written thriller infused with just the right amount of horror. I was immediately drawn into it and felt its pull the entire time I was reading it. I highly recommend reading it.

Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

The Butterfly Garden
Series: The Collector, #1
Author: Dot Hutchinson
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

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…


The Butterfly Garden is the tale of a deranged serial killer called “The Gardener” keeping the young women he hold captives in his butterfly garden until it’s time for them to meet their fates. It is told in the alternating view points of a FBI agent and the victim of a serial killer. Maya had not been murdered (yet), but she faced a horrifying ordeal. As Maya delivers her story of being held captive and the events surrounding it to Agent Hanoverian, he has to trust that she will give him the details he needs to solve his case. He knows she is keeping something from him, something big, but he’s not sure what.

If I had to sum up The Butterfly Garden in four words they would be creepy, disturbing, horrifying, and unsettling. Those four words pretty much say it all. I could barely stomach the events poor Maya and the other victims had to endure. It hurt my head and my heart. It made me feel disgusted and uncomfortable. I hated reading it, but I couldn’t stop. There was something so addictive to the tale. I had to know Maya’s story.

The weird thing about this thriller was that the story was told straight to the reader. There were twists and turns, but they didn’t really pop out at you unsuspectingly. They were delivered in the order you would expect. The biggest surprise was one that left me unsatisfied. I didn’t see it coming, but I think that’s because it didn’t make sense to me. It was too much of a coincidence. I actually felt that it ruined things a bit for me. That being said, it was probably a twist some readers would love.

The Butterfly Garden was a dark, horrifying story. If you like dark thrillers, this could be the book for you. It was on the verge of being too dark for me — even with how addicting it was. I had to read it during the day and then read a romance later that night so I wouldn’t have messed up dreams.