Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Review - Beneath the Attic by V.C. Andrews

*This is a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% mine.

"Once upon time, there was four siblings who were forced by their mother to live in their grandparent's attic for nearly 3 ½ years. Thanks to a crazed grandmother, rat poison, and a little bit of incest, the children's experience in the attic was a nightmare."

Does the story sound familiar?

Well, it should as it's the plot to Flowers in the Attic, the 1979 Gothic thriller by V.C. Andrews that entertained millions of readers and scared libraries around the world due to the novel's taboo incest subplots. Thanks to the book's success three Dollanganger series sequels soon followed - Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, and Seeds of Yesterday. Sadly, V.C. Andrews died in 1986 before she could finish writing the prequel Garden of Shadows. Shortly after V.C. Andrews' death, author Andrew Neiderman was hired to finish writing the novel and ghostwrite other titles based on her story notes, as well as to create new plots published under her name.

Flowers in the Attic was loosely adapted into a feature film in 1987, minus the incest plot. It received negative reviews from critics and fans alike, resulting in it bombing at the box office. A television movie adaptation aired on LIFETIME in 2014 with much better reviews than the 1985 version. Adaptations for Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday aired the following year on LIFETIME.

Three spinoff novels, Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth, Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger, and Secret Brother were published in 2014 and 2015, with the latter being a prequel that changed a "tragic event" from Flowers in the Attic.

Now, there's a brand-new installment in the Dollanganger series, titled Beneath the Attic, which is another prequel to Flowers in the Attic.

Set in 1890, Beneath the Attic centers around Corrine Dixon (the great-grandmother of the Dollanganger children), a spoiled rich teenager who has eyes for an older stranger - Garland Foxworth. After spending time together, Garland returns home to Foxworth Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia. Corrine is determined Garland is the man of her dreams and convinces her father to let her visit her great-aunt in Virginia, which is just an excuse for her to see Garland again.

Final Thoughts

Let me start out my final thoughts by stating the Dollanganger series should have ended with Garden of Shadows and there's absolutely no need for new prequels and spinoffs. Nevertheless, here I am reviewing the prequel Beneath the Attic. Despite my dislike for the ghostwriter's recent books, part of me was excited for the newest entry for two reasons: the nifty title and intriguing cover art.

Sadly, the writing for Beneath the Attic is just as bad as the previous V.C. Andrews' titles. While the real V.C. Andrews had a natural talent for writing third-dimensional characters and detailed descriptions, Andrew Neiderman (the ghostwriter) has lost his ability to write a good story. His characters are wooden with little to no emotional depth and the descriptions are bare bones at best. The novel is more or less a generic young adult tale instead of being a Gothic thriller like the original Flowers in the Attic.

The main character, Corrine Dixon, is unlikeable from the very beginning. If I don't like like a character, then I cannot connect with him/her, which is a big problem for me with any read. Garland is the only interesting character in the entire novel, despite the fact he has very little character development.

Plotwise there's not much going on to keep a reader's entertained for 357 pages. The blurb mentions Corrine is the mistress of Foxworth Hall but this isn't true. The ending leads to her marriage to Garland, so the blurb is misleading. It's a CW-like drama that gives no closure by the final page. And there's a good read for the ending as there's going to be two more prequel sequels next year - Out the Attic and Shadows of Foxworth.

Being a V.C. Andrews' fan, I wanted to give this book a better rating but I just can't do it. The book is poorly written. There's some good ideas but they're poorly executed. I know I have said this time and time again but let me state this one last time, "There needs to be a new ghostwriter!" While I have liked some of Andrew Neiderman's past books, he has clearly forgotten how to write a good story. V.C. Andrews' estate and Gallery Books should hire a younger ghostwriter, preferably a woman, who has a natural talent for writing Gothic tales.

Overall, Beneath the Attic is a poor excuse for a Flowers in the Attic prequel. If the characters' names were changed and the book was written under the ghostwriter's real name, then I would've probably liked it a little bit more. Unfortunately, Beneath the Attic is written under V.C. Andrews's name and connects to the Dollanganger Saga, resulting in a messy prequel that adds nothing to the series. Let's cross our fingers and hope the two prequel sequels will be better written!

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