The V.C. Andrews Experience Tag | (Badly) Describing V.C. Andrews Novels I've Never Actually Read All the Way Through

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Ah, is there anything more completely twisted and Gothic and disturbing than a classic V.C. Andrews novel? Important trigger warning note: it goes without saying that this post is intended for an older audience and may contain triggering topics. V.C. Andrews is basically a trigger warning in her own right. 

In the YA literary world, does it get any more taboo than a classic V.C. Andrews novel? Her work is a full on classic and often outrageously dark and bizarre mix of family sagas. The sort of novels you'd read out of curiosity, recoil and promptly hide underneath your bed.

Given their subject matter (a mixed bag of disturbing and yucky tropes such as consensual incest, sexual harassment or abuse, abusive family members, bullying, and then some more simple and timeless plotlines that involve underdogs gaining wealth in unexpected ways and more) it has always been a bit puzzling that they've withstood the test of time like they have.

Although there are countless titles attributed to the V.C. Andrews name, only a small fraction of those were actually penned by Andrews before her death in 1986. Those titles being: Flowers in the Attic (her most popular work to date), Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, My Sweet Audrina, Heaven and Dark Angel.

Any other novel attributed to the V.C. Andrews name is based upon the work of hired ghost-writer Andrew "I inspected myself like a pre-Civil Wat Slave owner looking at prospects." Neiderman. (No, really, this is an actual thing he wrote in The Silhouette Girl. I can't make this crap up. You can read my scathing review of that mess here.) By the way, if you thought the real V.C. Andrews novels were a mess... well, Neiderman is in a league of his own and really that's something we're not going to fully unpack today.

While I have very strong opinions on why the V.C. Andrews name needs to be retired, I won't get into that mess of a topic today, either. Today, we're going to be talking about some of the classic V.C. Andrews titles that started the infamy that comes with the very name and a few by Neiderman.

Disclaimer: I've read just over a handful of V.C. Andrews books in my life. Many of which were actually written by Neiderman, rather than Andrews. (And they were plain awful, but that's neither here nor there.) Some of them, I don't recall because after a certain point the topics tackled in them blur together due to constant recycling and I get a bit confused.

My first V.C. Andrews novel wasn't the infamous Flowers in the Attic, but My Sweet Audrina--and I was far too young to have read it. It stuck with me quite severely through the years since because it was, to put it bluntly, confusing and horrifying. I couldn't believe what happened in that novel. It was one of the first novels that actually shook me in real life.

Truly, I was scandalized. I have plans to reread it later this year, as well, for 5 and 5. With Lifetime adapting the Casteel Series/Casteel Family Saga (which for some reason I always get confused with the Cutler series) I think it's fair to say that even if you haven't read one of her novels, you likely know them by title or plot.

I am tempted to dip my toes in the water with at least the Casteel series before summer is over. So, knowing me, I'll get to it Autumn 2020 probably.

Which is why I thought it'd be fun to kind of select a few of her series I haven't read all the way through--separated by whether they were by Andrews or Neiderman--and try my hand at describing them based on what I remember or have heard. THIS IS GOING TO BE A BAD IDEA, GUYS, I CAN FEEL IT. I mean, 98% of my ideas are bad ideas but I think this will take the cake when it comes to my standard brand of bad ideas.

One last note: I LOVE MY SWEET AUDRINA. I'll be reading more of V.C. Andrews in the future. This is not intentionally mean and I'm not dragging these titles as much as I seem to be. Consider it as more of a self-drag than anything. 

Enjoy the comedy attempts, I guess? Screen shot this for future blackmailing purposes?

Here goes nothing.

primarily by V.C. Andrews; one by Andrew Neiderman 

I'm not going to be including the modern installments/spin-offs for this series. Okay, okay, this one is easy. We all know Flowers in the Attic even if we haven't read it. Basically, to sum it up, there's this REALLY pretty and doll-like family. They're all blonde. Very blonde. Everything starts to really HAPPEN for this family when the Dad dies in a car accident on his birthday--as you do in a V.C. Andrews novel.

Completely natural. I mean, when else would you die in a melodramatic family saga? On the way to your birthday party. We've all been there in a past life. Let's not pretend otherwise.

SO, eventually, the Mom realizes... "Oh, shit. We're poor now. We've lost the income. I don't know how to money. Better run home to the super rich parents that I purposely ran away from for secretive reasons." And so the four kids are like, all right, mom, this is still slightly traumatizing for us but like, sure, fine, whatever, let's change everything else.

They pack up their stuff and book it the heck out of that life because, again, no money. They roll up to this gorgeous estate and the kids are like, oh, dang, guess our grandparent's are rich, huh? But things get real (and I do mean real) when Grandma Dearest is like, oh, look the spawn of Satan is back with her own breed of mini spawns of Satan. She's basically like four five seconds away from getting the holy water.

At some point it's somehow decided that these kids basically don't exist (because who wants Dollar Tree brand knock-offs of Spawns of Satan, not in this house, says Grandma Dearest!) and must live in an attic for a little* while.

 *Until Grandpa bites the dust and Mom gets her inheritance. Which is years. LITERAL YEARS. So, no time at all.

So like, we've got this awesome sauce game plan going already and it'll surely be a breeze. Ha-ha, ♪♫♬ we are family. I got all my forbidden grandchildren-children with me. ♪♫♬ WELL, well, well. The plan goes array because reasons (see: written by V.C. Andrews) and the kids are stuck in the attic for A HELLUVA LONG TIME.

All they have is each other and hormones and occasionally they get fed. If you thought starvation and BEING LOCKED AWAY IN AN ATTIC is a hot mess and three quarters, just you wait! Now with more incest! For some reason, the two oldest children--Christopher and Cathy--start to depend on each other in ultra nasty ways and eventually have sex. It wasn't all that consensual the first time. Later times it is. Their relationship is... er.

Um. Well. Yikes on bikes. That's... not it. Like, there's even WORSE things than this and I'm not even kidding you. Apparently, the mom and dad were related. Uncle and Niece. Uh-oh. Something runs in that family and it isn't just bad personalities, questionable life choices and blonde hair.

Cathy's hair gets destroyed at some point because, well, it's too pretty and we can't have that.

There's some pot meet kettle moments. Grandma insists they are straight from hell but she probably is too so it is a bit of questionable judgment on her part. Then one of the kids dies because someone poisoned them and everyone's like, oh, shit, Grandma Dearest, why did you kill a child? They are all shook. No joke. Everyone was so shook, they bury the kid in the yard like that pet lizard that ran away to Uncle Larry's farm when you were away at summer camp. We're all out here thinking that Granny is the MVP of Poisoning Children but it's actually [dramatic, Lifetime music] the MOM.

I actually don't have any idea what happens in any of the other series except more of the same stuff except no more attic! The three surviving kids are freed and then adopted by some rich guy. Cathy had a relationship with him, I think? So, for some reason, Chris and Cathy get married in the future? And have a family of their own? And then two of those kids (Cathy's biological son with her mom's husband and then her adoptive daughter) fall in love? I don't know. It's gross. We're not really sure what was going on upstairs, but, like, yuck.

Those dang flowers in the attic, am I right? 

Oh, and Cathy is a ballerina. A lot of people die or get injured in weird ways. Mostly car accidents are the go-to. When Chris dies, Cathy dies not long after because ♥♥♥♥true love♥♥♥♥ or whatever. It's a dreadful series that is apparently addictive and also tries to say that incest is ~forbidden love~ which is... you know, not a great look.

This is clearly the series I know the most about. I have a read a few of the books but my memory is a garbage fire and also THE WHOLE SERIES IS TOO which, combined, is like a landfill that caught fire.

Heaven and Dark Angel by V.C. Andrews, the rest by Andrew Neiderman 

This was apparently inspired by a real story. Which is... er? I have questions? A lot, actually. It's fine. Maybe I don't want the answers. Maybe I do. There's a lot of wholesome fun in the main character's name but honestly that's the only wholesome thing about the Casteel series so buckle up buttercup. Let's get the wholesome out of the way so we can get down to the other... things

Introducing: HEAVEN LEIGH. Her name is literally heavenly, y'all. Ba dum tss. I'm not kidding.

So, good old Heaven lives in the mountains with her huge family. They're living in poverty when we first meet them and it's rough. Her dad's a POS and so is basically everyone in the area where they live. We're talking a bunch of obscenely mean people who think the Casteel family is trash and that they are entitled to be hateful to them. So, Heaven (and her siblings) get hit with a lot of crap. A lot.

Basically, Heaven's entire life is a lie and the world changes VERY QUICKLY. For starters, the woman who raised her isn't her biological mom. Then, after this woman leaves the family, her dad literally SELLS her and her siblings off to the highest bidders basically. Which includes her younger sister, Fanny, getting sent to live with a religious man who ends up getting her pregnant.

Heaven gets a crappy deal too and is sent to live off with an unbalanced ex-girlfriend of her dad, who is pretty damn abusive, and this woman's husband who Heaven ends up getting taken advantage of by. This is not the first or last time a trash male takes advantage of, or tries to take advantage of, Heaven.

(This includes her dad, her step-grandfather, and others. I think they all have a lot of mental health issues and it seems to be a thing that those two in particular that they are constantly mistaking Heaven for her mother. I know.)

Eventually, this woman dies of cancer (?) and Heaven ends up going to find her biological grandma. Who, she does find, but is trash in pearls. Her Grandma's husband is a creep too and has some weird attachment to Heaven from the start. He is very controlling. Heaven ends up befriending and then falling in love with a man named Troy, who happens to be her step-Grandfather's brother.

They eventually end up engaged. But then--cue V.C. Andrews plot-twist--it is revealed that her step-Grandfather is actually her biological FATHER. Making Troy her uncle. He runs off and dies (?) and Heaven is, obviously, devastated. (?) Eventually Heaven gets married to her high school crush, Logan and moves back to her hometown. Her younger sister, Fanny, pops up now and again to continuously dick Heaven around and plays a lot of games with, well, everyone.

Still, I think Logan and Heaven raise their kids together and have a decent marriage going on.

They live happily ever for like two seconds before they both die (car crash, how shocking) and their daughter (who is actually Troy's daughter, who apparently faked his death, not Logan's) ends up having to live with Heaven's biological dad slash step-grandfather.

Pretty sure that said daughter is in love with her "half brother", or cousin, or some other type of relative I don't remember. The kid is apparently the daughter of Logan and Fanny. BECAUSE THESE FAMILY TREES ARE CONSISTENTLY HORRIFYING AND I CANNOT FIGURE THEM OUT, SEND HELP. Anyways, the good news is she isn't actually related to him? So they probably ended up together? I don't know.

Oh! And I think someone got mauled at a circus? But I don't know who? For some reason, the final book, is a prequel about Heaven's mom and all I know is that stuff OBVIOUSLY goes down and it's probably nonsensical and probably reminds us that the men in this series are all trash. ALL OF THEM

Entirely by Faux V.C. Andrews: Andrew Neiderman 

I always get this one confused with the Casteel family. Just because I'm bad with names and they are similar, with that damn C. I have like two brain cells and life is tough, okay? Moving on. So the Casteel Cutler family saga is another wild and inappropriate cycle of similar plotlines. It basically recycles everything from Casteel and Dollanganger. We've got it all! Rags to riches! Family trees that tangle amongst themselves and leave you scratching your head! Other things! More stuff!!! EVEN MORE THINGS!

There's apparently music related stuff in this series so, YAY! Finally, some flavor. Okay, so, Dawn is the main character in the Cutler series. There's a lot of weird at home, including a strange relationship with her brother because Flowers in the Attic is life V.C. Andrews that's why.

So, at some point, she ends up moving around a bit with said family and ends up attending some sort of private school. Yay! New life! Naturally, the kids at school treat her like garbage because she's not rich. Enter, Mean Girl Clara Sue Cutler. BUT, there's one bright spot in this life: A BOY. His name is Phillip Cutler. He is Nice Guy and posh and Clara Sue's brother and probably has secrets but Dawn lives for him.

Because us girls, we can't truly start living until a strapping young lad says hey, sup, girl. Disclaimer: he probably doesn't say SUP because I'm fairly certain this series started in the mid to late 1980s. I'm improvising here. Give me a break.

Things start to really get wild when one of her parents dies (was it cancer or a car crash or starvation in an attic? I don't know.) and it's revealed that [dramatic music, dark mood lighting] DAWN IS... A CUTLER. Hold onto your hat, folks, her "family" kidnapped her (Face on the Milk Carton VIBES) when she was a baby because reasons. Someone from the Cutler family probably organized it or something, they seem like the type. Right?

So, anyways, naturally, things with Phillip come to a screeching halt because of that whole shared blood thing. It's a total inconvenience for him and he's not really good with that whole 'no' thing. I think at this point she's like, ha!, actually, I'm in love with the boy who I thought was my brother this whole time. Which, uh, I'll let you guys think that one through on your own.

Dawn eventually leaves the hot mess behind to go to university, I think, and studies music. GET IT, GIRL. I always have a fondness towards characters who are musically inclined so I think it's safe to say that I stan her even though I've never read this series. While away, she ends up sleeping with a teacher, because reasons, and eventually gets pregnant, because more reasons. The baby is put up for adoption behind her back. Because, you guessed it, reasons.

Her delightful family--Phillip and Clara Sue--continue to DO THE MOST and be idiots. Phillip tries to make his wife look like Dawn because he still has a thing for her and this is the only logical thing he can think of. He probably has a shrine to her and since this is a V.C. Andrews novel he probably tries to r*pe her again. Yikes. My dude, that's your sister.

Meanwhile Dawn married her other brother--the one she grew up with but wasn't related to--and runs a hotel? Dawn gets her baby back. That probably goes really well. Someone dies in a car accident just to make sure you remembered that you're reading a V.C. Andrews novel.

Like the Casteel series, the fourth book is about Dawn's child, after Dawn dies. Probably another car accident? Double cancer? Fire? Accidental food poisoning? Who knows. I'm assuming Dawn's child goes through hell with the Cutler family because V.C. Andrews. Also, there's someone that is named after a plant. There's a fifth book that's probably a prequel? I don't know, but I'm going to guess there's some car accidents and is about Dawn's mom or grandma or the woman who kidnapped her?

I call this series "Dollansteel Lite" or "Diet Dollansteel", I haven't decided. 

Entirely by Faux V.C. Andrews: Andrew Neiderman 

If it wasn't obvious at this point, it should be now: I wasn't kidding when I said that most of the V.C. Andrews releases have been family sagas. I mean, why mess with a sure thing I guess? At least there's a little bit of a formula to all the campy madness. This one is about a girl named Ruby and there's a lot of stereotypes in it. Not sure how many car accidents, or accidental pregnancies, but I'm sure there's plenty to keep us on our toes.

After Ruby's grandmother dies, she ends up searching for her biological father and finds him. He is rich as heck, so heeeey, Daddy! Apparently, she has a sister who is evil, and her step-mother hates her for one reason or another. If you're wondering if this one has relatives that hook up, I'm going to take a wild guess that it does. I looked and apparently there's a thing between Ruby and her half brother? I? Uh. Yuck. I mean, it's KIND OF an improvement. (Not at all, I'm trying to be nice here. I know it's foreign, but let's just roll with it.)

There's some emotional abuse and, I may be wrong, but someone tries to take advantage of Ruby. And someone does take advantage of Ruby. And then, this is going to shock you all, I'm sure, Ruby gets pregnant. *pretendstobeshocked.gif* Ruby ends up marrying that half brother I mentioned earlier. I think most of her family dies? And Ruby tries to steal her sisters identity? I don't know.

I'm just going to take a wild guess here and say that the fourth book is about Ruby's kid and the fifth book is about Ruby's mom or something. It's definitely a prequel. I mean, that's tradition. In this house, we don't f*ck with tradition.

But, to be fair, I clearly am Jon Snow and know nothing.

Entirely by Faux V.C. Andrews: Andrew Neiderman 

This one has something to do with FAMILY SAGAS and MUSIC, I think. I hope. Melody is the name of the main character but I'm sure you guessed that already. And there's definitely someone named Olivia. Olivia is probably Melody's mom or grandma or beloved pet Goblin, I don't know.

Life is complicated for Melody and she probably finds a long lost rich relative who will likely abuse her in some way. One of her parent's died in some sort of accident, the other is Not Great at existing and probably leaves Melody alone in the world to chase her dreams or a trust fund. 

So, if I remember correctly, when I've been told about this series, this one is WILD but not as wild as the other series? It's also apparently the last "good" V.C. Andrews/Andrew Neiderman titles to have been churned out in this lifetime. I'm sure it was a fluke and honestly the term good is relative.

Anyways, Melody moves in with the family she doesn't know and things Get Real. The Logan family has their secrets. I don't know if these secrets are in the attic but they're definitely tucked away somewhere and our good sis Melody is about to uncover them all for us. Everyone say thank you, Melody.

So, anyways!

The family is weird and tries to get Melody to act like someone she isn't. What I mean is they want to have her pretend to be their dead daughter, Laura. I know. They've got a literal list of rules and they're checking it twice like some Demonic Santa Claus. Then, because it's NOT a V.C. Andrews novel without it, Melody's mom dies in a car accident. This time, the Logan series spices things up and instead of siblings who hook up it's cousins.

Which is not any better but we'll give an A for effort. Apparently, Melody's dad isn't her dad so she is out searching for her REAL dad at some point. Then, it's revealed that Melody's mom faked her death because YOLO. Her mom then tells people that Melody is her younger sister. Because, again, YOLO. I'm assuming this goes well and absolutely nothing bad happens and there's no incest, car accidents or crazy happenings.

Just kidding. I'm 99% sure that happens. The fourth book is NOT about Melody. I'm confused, though, because it doesn't appear to be about her daughter, so I have questions. I feel like my entire life was a lie. I'm having a crisis about this. Really, I am. I don't understand?????

Do traditions mean NOTHING to you, Faux V.C. Andrews? Is nothing sacred? It's about the dead girl that everyone wanted Melody to become, Laura. Cool, cool. The fifth book is a prequel, though, about Melody's demon of a grandma, so there IS some respect for traditions after all. I

Did you read any V.C. Andrews novels back in the day? Did they make you want to claw your eyes out? Or did you enjoy them in all their campy, soap opera, Gothic glory? Hate them? Let's chat!

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