Friday, February 12, 2021

[Review] - The Umbrella Lady by V. C. Andrews

It's been over 34 years since the death of author V. C. Andrews, but that hasn't stopped her publisher from releasing new books with her name printed on the covers. After her death, the Andrews family picked horror author Andrew Neiderman to complete her unfinished manuscripts and write new stories inspired by her works.

Now available to own from Gallery Books is the newest V. C. Andrews novel - The Umbrella Lady. If my memory serves me right, this novel was supposed to be published a year or so ago but got delayed for some reason, though I could be wrong. And I was under the impression it would be a standalone novel, and as it turns out, it isn't because there's a sneak peek in the back of the book for the sequel - Out of the Rain.

The Umbrella Lady is set in modern times, though you wouldn't know this by glancing at the cover because it features a woman and girl wearing outfits from the 1930s. The story begins with a man leaving his eight-year-old daughter, Saffron Faith Anders, at a train platform. An older woman carrying an umbrella comes to her rescue and invites her to stay at her house until her father returns. With no other option, Saffron accepts the invitation. Her father will come for her soon. Right?

If you have ever read a V. C. Andrews book, you know things are never as they seem. What turns into only a few days turns into years. Young Saffron seeks out to discover why her father left her with a controlling old lady.


Final Thoughts

Let's face the facts: the last few ghostwritten V. C. Andrews books have been stinkers! Many fans, including me, have criticized Andrew Neiderman's storytelling or the lack thereof. The real V. C. Andrews had a natural talent for writing gothic descriptions, which, sadly, has been missing from Neiderman's recent outings.

So, is The Umbrella Lady worth reading?

It's an improvement for Andrew Niederman, if that means anything to anyone. At least it's an original story that doesn't borrow from the past. (FYI: I'm referring to the unnecessary and incoherent Flowers in the Attic prequels.) I read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), so I'm not going to nitpick any errors from it. The narration is from the point-of-view of an adult Saffron, who's looking back and telling us the story. Well, at least that's the vibe I am getting from it.

How are the descriptions?

The descriptions are generic at best but better than the recent ghostwritten titles. However, the storytelling is a far cry from the real V. C. Andrews's gothic touch. As a reader, I want to see, feel, and smell the atmosphere. The majority of this tale takes place in or around a house, and for some reason, Neiderman decided not to describe it. Instead of descriptions, the author focused more on dialogue.

Overall, The Umbrella Lady is an intriguing start to a new series. It's far from being perfect, but at least it's not a complete disaster. I could nitpick the crap out of this book, but there's no point in me doing so. I thought the young protagonist was interesting. For the most part, I did enjoy the story. The big twist was predictable. Had it went another way, I wouldn't have liked it as much.

All in all, The Umbrella Lady is a decent read.

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