A Different Brand of Disturbing | Review: Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews

6:00 AM

Petals on the Wind was nowhere near as "good" (ah, I use that loosely) as Flowers in the Attic. But V.C. Andrews was a pro at bringing the tragedy and drama. So, there's that!

by V.C. Andrews

They were such brave children to withstand such suffering. Such clever children to escape such terror!

For Carrie, Chris and Cathy, the attic was a dark horror that would not leave their minds, even while they built bright, promising new lives. Of course mother had to pretend they didn't exist.

And Grandmother was convinced they had the devil in them.

But that wasn't their fault. Was it? Cathy knew what to do.

She now had the powers she had learned from her beautiful mother. She knew it in the way her brother still yearned for her, in the way her guardian touched her, in the way all men looked at her.

She knew it was time to put what she knew to the test. To show her mother and grandmother that the pain and terror of the attic could not be forgotten... Show them.

Show them—once and for all.

Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews
Rating: ★★★★☆

“Little girls get hurt when they play grown-up games.”  

There is no other quote from Petals on the Wind that summarizes itself up quite like the above. Now that the Dollanganger siblings are out of the attic--all but the lost sibling, Cory--life seemingly has only just begun. Petals on the Wind is quite different when compared to its predecessor, Flowers in the Attic, but it is no less disturbing. The tone feels a little more sloppy in comparison and, at times, feels as though it was penned by another author entirely.

Gone are the polished, spine-tingling, subtle presses of horror of Flowers in the Attic. Petals on the Wind offers another tone entirely. This time, the story pulses to the beat of impending revenge and letting go of the past. Or, in the case of these characters, and all that they have suffered: being unable to let go of the past.

V.C. Andrews brings the chilling second installment to all new grounds. Out of the attic and into a different fire, Petals on the Wind is substantially more childish and adult. No, really. Somehow, it encompasses both tones, and we see how the attic changed Cathy, Christopher and Carrie. We see the three remaining 'Dresden Dolls' as they embark on the next chapter of their life. And, duh, spoiler alert, things are never going to be the same.

Their family was irrecoverably changed with the passing of their father, the imprisonment and cruelty of their mother and grandmother, and the death of their youngest brother, Cory. Now, Petals on the Wind sees them being saved, and taken in, by a lonely (and, gasp, rich) doctor, Paul Sheffield, who becomes something  of a father-like figure to all three of the remaining siblings. Alas, this is a V.C. Andrews novel, and things aren't as they seem.

Petals on the Wind isn't as striking as Flowers in the Attic. It is, perhaps, more terrifying in different ways. It is certainly, strangely, more problematic. But, this is what makes Petals on the Wind, well, Petals on the Wind.

As Cathy, Christopher and Carrie struggle with their memories of the attic, more and more pieces of their souls begin to unravel. Cathy latches desperately onto the hope of love and revenge. Carrie, meanwhile, is unable to move past the guilt of surviving while her twin didn't, and so much weighs heavy at her soul.

Because Petals on the Wind carries on through many, many years, we see everyone as they grow up.

Mostly, we see Cathy through many of life's biggest moments. While the relationship between her and her brother, Christopher, undeniably lingers in the background, there are three significant others throughout the years. From her father-like figure, Paul, to her abusive dancing-partner-turned-lover-and-husband, Julian, all the way to her mother's husband, Bart, there's never a dull moment in Cathy's life.

Petals on the Wind was not the sequel I necessarily expected for Flowers in the Attic. Somewhere in between its breathless drama and tragedy, it, at times, bordered on lackluster and rambly. Still ,in its higher points, there was a lot of campy fun and cringe to be had. It's nowhere near the haunting first installment of the Dollanganger Saga, but it is definitely preferable to the third book.

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