The Weakest of the Original V.C. Andrews Novels | Review: If There Be Thorns by V.C. Andrews

5:00 AM

The Dollanganger Saga continues with If There Be Thorns--this time, following Cathy and Chris' children.

by V.C. Andrews

Christopher and Cathy have made a loving home for their handsome and talented teenager Jory, their imaginative nine-year-old Bart, and a sweet baby daughter. Then an elderly woman and her strange butler move in next door. 

The Old Woman in Black watches from her window, lures lonely Bart inside with cookies and ice cream, and asks him to call her “grandmother.” Slowly Bart transforms, each visit pushing him closer to the edge of madness and violence, while his anguished parents can only watch. For Cathy and Chris, the horrors of the past have come home…and everything they love may soon be torn from them.

If There Be Thorns by V.C. Andrews
Rating: ☆☆☆

“You can trust a few some of the time, and most none of the time. Feel lucky if you have even one to trust all of the time.”

Looking back, I'm pretty sure it was fate that I would dislike If There Be Thorns. It lacks the same haunting feeling that Flowers in the Attic and even Petals on the Wind possessed. There is not a lot to be enthralled by, really. And its pacing is dreadfully dull. If I thought that Petals on the Wind felt as if it were penned by another author entirely, If There Be Thorns feels even more as such.

If There Be Thorns is very much in the same Gothic horror vein. It holds a different feeling of terror than the previous two novels in the Dollanganger Saga. While Flowers in the Attic was purely a page turner, that had you gripped and internally yelling in unease, and Petals on the Wind held the similar pace and tone to a classic soap opera, If There Be Thorns develops so slowly I could barely stand it.  

Perhaps this is due entirely to the shift in narration from Cathy, over to her young sons, Bart and Jory. Yet, If There Be Thorns feels jilted by its own lack of a spark. It had a lot going on for it that should have felt as indulgent as it was creepy, but it never quite caught up with itself. In truth, it seemed to me that If There Be Thorns was meant to be something bigger than what it actually was, which leaves me feeling highly underwhelmed. 

The bad news is that I cared very little for Bart and Jory's childhood or any of the plotlines that were featured in If There Be Thorns. (Save the little glimmers of Corrine's attempt at redemption and John Amos general villainy.) 

Everything felt unnecessary and tiring. So much of me was unable to buy anything in If There Be Thorns. Bart felt almost comically the bad seed, whereas Jory lacked much personality beyond his golden boy archetypes. In the end, both fell incredibly flat. Cindy was too young to care about (I will say that I love Cindy in the final book of the series, though) and both Cathy and Chris felt like watered down versions of who they are. 

Ultimately, the story felt lacking.

This isn't to say there weren't good things to be found in If There Be Thorns. I thought the villain, the frame up they attempted, and the conclusion to the story, felt very true-to-the-series. If the story had been paced differently, and the character's been developed further, and it had been told from Cathy or Chris' point of view, I would have probably 'enjoyed' (again, I won't ever say I've enjoyed this series in the simplest of terms) If There Be Thorns

Alas, I didn't.

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