Wildly Cringe-Worthy and Entertaining | Review: Heaven by V.C. Andrews

7:00 AM

Quarantine reading means V.C. Andrews binge-read. When the world is a dumpster fire, dive into the extensive V.C. Andrews backlist. One of V.C. Andrews greatest triumphs in her legacy is the fact that she has a character named Heaven Leigh. I stand by that. Oh, well, here we go! Time for the Casteel series to begin!

by V.C. Andrews

Of all the folks in the mountain shacks, the Casteels were the lowest-- the scum of the hills. Heaven Leigh Casteel was the prettiest, smartest girl in the backwoods, despite her ragged clothes and dirty face... despite a father meaner than ten vipers... despite her weary stepmother, who worked her like a mule. For her brother Tom and the little ones, Heaven clung to her pride and her hopes. Someday they'd get away and show the world that they were decent, fine and talented-- worthy of love and respect.

Then Heaven's stepmother ran off, and her wicked, greedy father had a scheme-- a vicious scheme that threatened to destroy the precious dream of Heaven and the children forever!


Heaven by V.C. Andrews

“I want my name to mean something after I’m dead.”

Wow, and I thought that the Dollanganger Saga was twisted and full of thorns. Turns out the Casteel family is just as wildly horrifying and inappropriate. Heaven is a definite V.C. Andrews classic that leaves jaws on the floor and a feeling of secondhand embarrassment. This book was enthralling in the most horrifying way; I wanted to look away so often but couldn't bring myself to. No matter how hard my stomach churned, Heaven held my focus for the duration of the novel. 

There's something so indulgent about the original V.C. Andrews books. Are they full of cringy, highly problematic tropes and archetypes? Yes. Are they well-written? No. Hello, guilty pleasure. Er, well, I wouldn't call them a pleasure, necessarily. They're just... V.C. Andrews books. And Heaven is one of the strongest of the originals. 

While there are a lot of things within Heaven that I wouldn't call well written or realistic, I found that Andrews really captured poverty in a way that other authors never have. If anything, that may be one of her biggest and best accomplishments. For every surreal moment, there were little truths sprinkled in.

And to be perfectly honest with you, the horrifying nature of this book was a lot to stomach. From the very start, I found myself almost wanting to flinch from the tone that Heaven took on. I had very strong feelings towards this book, if I'm being honest. There were characters I wanted to scoop up and protect (Tom!) and others I wanted to knock out with a baseball bat (Fanny! Kitty! Cal!).

Like all V.C. Andrews novels, Heaven is not for the faint of heart and serves only a few purposes: to entertain and shock its audience. You don't walk away from it thinking, "I LOVED this novel" but you certainly cannot get it out of your mind for days. It is melodramatic from the start and wastes no time in setting the scene of future cringe. Heaven starts off fairly simple and follows a similar formula to the author's other novels, but soon drifts into new territory--and boy, does it get dark.  


Much like with her beloved Gothic Horror masterpiece Flowers in the Attic, Heaven engrossing its audience in a vividly terrifying and messed up family tree. Nothing is quite as it seems and, in true V.C. Andrews fashion, soon, nothing will be the same. From cruelty in the family and revelations, to growing up in poverty, to sexual predators, and more, Heaven sets the stage for a wild ride in the Casteel Saga. 

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