Thursday, 31 December 2020

Review - Whispering Hearts by V. C. Andrews

I grew up with the original V. C. Andrews novels. My mother, grandmothers, and an aunt read The Dollanganger Family series in the 1980s. During my childhood, I remember everyone gathering together to watch the original Flowers in the Attic film adaptation on a rented VHS, and I also recall everyone being disappointed with it. In the early 2000s, my late grandmother stopped collecting V. C. Andrews books after learning Andrew Neiderman was the ghostwriter. Before inheriting her collection, I first read Flowers in the Attic after finding a hardback at a thrift store. And throughout the rest of the 2000s, I read all of V.C. Andrews's original writings, as well as many of Andrew Neiderman's ghostwritten installments.

Gallery Books
released Whispering Hearts, the long-delayed third installment in the House of Secrets series by V. C. Andrews (or otherwise known as the ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman), in early November. Even though I've been disappointed (and critical) of Neiderman's recent outings, I still wanted to read Whispering Hearts, which serves as a prequel to House of Secrets and Echoes in the Walls.

Whispering Hearts centers on Emma Corey, aka the mother of Fern from previous books. Emma's story begins with her leaving her strict father's home in England and traveling to New York City to become a dancer. Her dreams of becoming a Broadway star quickly turns into tears. Nearly broke, she agrees to be a surrogate mother for Dr. Davenport and his wife, Samantha. They allow her to live with them at the Wyndemere House during the pregnancy.  Sounds simple enough, right?

If you've already read House of Secrets and Echoes in the Walls, then you'll know what happens to Emma. And, no, she never becomes a Broadway dancer. 

Final Thoughts

Well, at least Whispering Hearts is better written than the recent godawful (and unnecessary) Flowers in the Attic prequels. That's not saying much about the ghostwriter, Andrew Neiderman, because he has written many stinkers under the V. C. Andrews name over the last 10+ years.

Whispering Hearts works well as a prequel to the House of Secrets series, but that's if you've read them. If you're a casual reader, then you're going to it think it's dull and full of cliches. The plot of a young woman moving to the big city to become a dancer has been overdone in books and movies. So if you're looking for a fresh plot, then you're going to be disappointed.

The blurb states, "From V. C. Andrews comes unputdownable gothic novel of big city dreams gone wrong." Now there's nothing gothic about the book. Andrew Neiderman lost his gothic edge a long time ago, and "unputdownable" must be a hidden joke. The writing style is generic at best. It's more of a fluff bargain bin read than a gothic thriller. Nothing is thrilling about the story. It's just a melodrama with lots (and I mean lots) of cringy dialogue.

Overall, Whispering Hearts is neither good or bad. For me, it falls in the middle of the road. Yes, it's a step above the recent Flowers in the Attic prequels, but it lands nearly par with the House of Secrets and Echoes in the Walls. If you're one of the diehard V. C. Andrews loyalists who devours anything published under the late author's name, then you might enjoy Whispering Hearts. However, everyone else will see it either as a failed attempt by Andrew Neiderman or another cash grab by the publisher.

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