The Final Installment of the Casteel Family Saga Takes Us Back to the Beginning | Review: Web of Dreams by V.C. Andrews

7:30 AM

Web of Dreams could have been an enthralling and tragic tale. Unfortunately, it remains one of the more disappointing offerings of the Casteel series.

Web of Dreams
by V.C. Andrews
aka Andrew Neiderman 

With nowhere to go, no one to help her, will Leigh flee into the arms of the one person she shouldn’t run to? Don’t miss this fifth and final installment in the Casteel family saga from New York Times bestselling author and literary phenomenon V.C. Andrews (Flowers in the Attic, My Sweet Audrina), now a major Lifetime movie event.

Leigh VanVoreen had to escape from Boston’s Farthinggale Manor. The foul secret she harbored within her seemed to darken her life forever. Jillian, her mother, would not believe her, and Tony Tatterton, her stepfather, had betrayed her cruelly.

But the pure devotion of Luke Casteel promised her hope and respect. Only Luke knew her deepest of secrets…only Luke would love and protect her. Bravely she bore the suspicions of the Willies’ hillfolk, as she tried to grasp the happiness that had so long eluded her. Leigh prayed with all her heart that her bright, shining dreams would save her from tragedy at last…

Web of Dreams by V.C. Andrews
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Another V.C. Andrews novel done! And, uhm. Hoo, boy. Where to begin? Web of Dreams started off promising but quickly slipped off course and tossed itself into a very disappointing pattern. It's not the worst Andrew Neiderman as V.C. Andrews offering, but it certainly isn't the best--or even a good one. As important as it was to go back to the beginning--to see Leigh, Heaven's mother, and her life before she passed away at such a young age.

This was, likely, based upon notes that were left behind V.C. Andrews before her death. However, like Gates of Paradise and any other V.C. Andrews book that came next, it was penned by her ghost writer: Andrew Neiderman. While he doesn't always hit the mark, there are times when Andrews seemingly pulses in the narrative. Web of Dreams isn't one of those books.

Readers will clearly be able to see the difference in tones between the two authors, as always. Web of Dreams, however, is certainly better than Neiderman's modern offerings and was one of his earliest releases. So, I am a bit more lenient towards it than others. (Even if I'm not a fan of the novel, per se.)

Firstly, this book suffers very deeply in its incoherent storytelling and the many inconsistencies from the main set of novels. It certainly keeps true to the tone and history better than other books, but it still feels choppy. Second, I experienced Web of Dreams through audiobook form and for reasons I cannot fathom, the narrator basically whispered her way through the whole story. Ugh. I wish I were exaggerating. Alas, I'm not, and Web of Dreams failed to hit the right marks in so many ways. 

Much like Heaven and Annie, Leigh begins her journey in purely innocent territory. She is ordinary, but flawed. What sets her apart from both Heaven and Annie is, of course, her upbringing and the path that life takes her before her untimely death. Web of Dreams sets the stage for ties and similarities between the three young women, and the tragedies each face, but of the three Leigh is one of the most sympathetic.

Web of Dreams follows the same roads and plot-twists that the prior books in the series approached. In the case of this novel, it tries too hard to cram so much into one book. This stunts the growth in a way that is similar to Gates of Paradise--it feels unkempt and thrown together on a whim rather than well-thought out. The general story arches are all startling and trashy in that addictive, V.C. Andrews way, but they never fully pan out in a way that makes for thoroughly engaging reading.

Hating Tony is as easy as ever. Loving Troy, too, feels like second nature. (And I love seeing Troy as a child. It feels very full circle and, honestly, him and Leigh are the only characters I give a shit about in Web of Dreams.) And, in spite of knowing that it wouldn't last or work out for her, I wanted so badly for Leigh to receive a happily ever after and felt myself rooting for her from the start.

The bad news is with so many recycled plotlines, unanswered questions and inconsistencies, I was unable to enjoy Web of Dreams like I'd wanted to. Between all the books in the Casteel saga, I can't decide if I disliked Web of Dreams or Gates of Paradise most of all. 

Gone is the V.C. Andrews horrific charm, and in its place is a pale imitation of it. At the end of the day, so many things felt unnecessary and underdeveloped. (Such as the last act of Leigh's life from the day she meets Luke Casteel, marries him, and until she gives birth to Heaven.) Web of Dreams wasn't a complete waste, and fills in some of the finer plot-points, but it certainly felt like a novel that didn't need to be produced.

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