Thursday, 1 September 2016

Fall Reads: Whitefern by V.C. Andrews

Pocket Books; 368 pages; $7.99; Amazon
I believe almost every reader has heard of the author of V.C. Andrews or has read one of her books. Ms. Andrews got the attention of the world when her first "Dollanganger"novel (Flower in the Attic) was published in 1979. Teenagers and some adult readers couldn't get enough of the Gothic novel about four siblings being forced to live in an attic, though many libraries and schools banned the title and it's sequels due to the "taboo" love story.

In 1982, the standalone novel "My Sweet Audrina" was published. It centered on a young girl, Audrina, who was forced to live in her older sister's footsteps (the First Audrina), well, so she thought so. If you've read the book, then you are well aware how the story goes. I'm not going to spoil it for others; however, you can read my review for it here. (The water-down made-for-Lifetime movie aired earlier this year.)

After V.C. Andrews passed away in 1986, her family decided to let a ghostwriter, Andrew Neiderman, finish the books she was working on at the time of her death and to continue writing other novels under her name.

Fast-forward to 2016, Andrew Neiderman is still ghostwriting all V.C Andrews titles; though the Gothic-vibe from the V.C. Andrews' original novels are long gone, with many of the recent releases receiving mixed to negative feedback from diehard fans.The newest V.C. Andrews' release is Whitefern, the long-awaited to sequel to My Sweet Audrina.

(Warning: Spoilers!) Set several years after the ending of My Sweet Audrina, the novel opens up with the death of Audrina's father, Damian Jonathan Adare. She doesn't have much time to mourn as she has to help her autistic sister, Sylvia, deal with their father's death. However, it's more difficult than what she could ever imagined due to Sylvia's odd behavior of sitting in rocking chair in the First Audrina's bedroom, where the young woman claims to hear the voice of their father; telling her that a baby is coming.

To make matters even worse, Audrina's husband, Arden Nelson Lowe, is upset after he learns that Damian had left everything to Audrina and not to him. He keeps demanding that she sign her father's brokerage business over to him. The marriage had already been on the rocks due their inability to conceive a child.

While Audrina can't solve her problems with Arden, she attempts to help Audrina by hiring a art teacher to tutor her, but sadly this decision causes a chain reaction that will destroy their family.

Final Thoughts: After reading the re-release of My Sweet Audrina several months ago, I was eagerly looking forward to reading Whitefern. I kept in mind beforehand that there was no way the sequel was going to be written the same way Ms. Andrews had penned the original, so I'm not here to judge the writing; though it does fit in with Neiderman normal storytelling style.

Whitefern is told from the point-of-view of Audrina, who more or less feels like the same character from the original book. Audrina's sister, Sylvia, only appeared in the latter pages of My Sweet Audrina; despite her brief appearance, I thought I had a good grasps on what the character should be like gown up, and I'm glad to say that Sylvia feels like the same character in the sequel, just a bit older. Audrina's love Arden feels like a completely different character. I know that people can change, but he has turned into a monster here. Why has this happened? I would say it's because of bad writing.

Like I already mentioned, I had reread the original novel several months ago, so the story was still fresh in mind. Thanks to this, I had noticed many continuity errors, such as Arden mentioning that his mother, Billie, had been married to Audrina's father, which never occurred in the first book.

Overall, Whitefern is an unneeded sequel that has been shoved upon diehard V.C. Andrews' fans. It's only reason of existence was to tie-in with the My Sweet Audrina made-for-Lifetime movie, but if that was the case, then it should have been released in January when the movie aired. There are too many plot holes for me to list here. Nevertheless, despite all the problems with the novel, I wasn't completely bored with it.

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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