Garden of Shadows by V.C. Andrews

(The Dollanganger Series, #5)

Before terror flowered in the attic there was a young girl. An innocent, hopeful girl...

When young Olivia arrives at Foxworth Hall, she thinks her marriage to handsome Malcolm will bring the joy she has longed for. But in the gloomy mansion filled with festering desires and forbidden passions, a stain of jealous obsession begins to spread—an evil that will threaten her children, two charming boys and one very special, beautiful girl. For within the halls of this cursed house a shocking secret lives. A secret that will taint the Foxworth family for generations to come...

 “My heart felt like a cold ember. Last night it flamed with hope. Today it was coated with ashes.”

Garden of Shadows was the last novel written in the Dollanganger series, although it is actually the prequel to anything that came after. The book tells the story of Olivia Foxworth, the grandmother that would come to haunt the children in Flowers in the attic.

It tells the story of a young woman who comes to live at Foxworth Hall, and in her hands she holds the dreams for a bright future. One filled with love, romance, children, parties, and overall bliss. What she doesn’t know is that she has married a man who is twisted and shriveled up, that the home she now resides in slowly ruins everyone who comes to live there.

The atmosphere is pure gothic in style and traditional Andrews. Her wording is a bit stuffier here, as I mentioned before, but it works with Olivia’s personality.

Olivia Foxworth led a hellions existence. She lost both her mother and father at a young age and married into a loveless marriage. She never had any friends or boyfriends, and very little family. She was never accepted, loved, or befriended. Eventually, through life's tragedies, her heart turns to stone in order to survive. Garden of Shadows tells the story of a young, innocent, hopeful girl -- wanting more than anything to just be happy, held, and cared for -- being destroyed by the cruel aspects of life and slowly turned into a bitter old woman, always in turmoil and cut off from compassion.

Alicia is a sweet character you can’t help but love. She has an innocent air about her, a true beauty and kindness; her type of personality is a lot rarer than the Olivia's of the world. Garland wasn’t always the best husband and father but later in ! life sought to change that and make good for himself and his family. He was a happy man determined to stay that way; he wanted to keep going on bringing joy to those he loved and keep on living a life that was good, since much of his life was not always so carefree. It was hard for me not to sympathize with him.

Malcolm Foxworth is a multi-dimensional character, although for most of the book he comes off as overall cruel. His abandonment as a child, and absence from his father, ate away most of his soul long before Olivia’s was taken. He was always searching for a way out, a semblance of peace, and whenever he found it sought to control it at all costs out of fear. His character does some pretty bad things, but at times that little lonely boy, vulnerable and lost, shows up from years past.

The pace, unfortunately, is on the choppy side. Andrews had to fit in everything in Olivia’s life, but also provide some slow moments and enough foreshadowing to have it all make sense. So at times things are too rushed, and at other times they’re a bit slow.

As is classic with Andrews style, the events are surprising, the ending bittersweet, the characters life rough (she once said in an interview she likes to put her characters through hell) and overall the story interesting. While it did have some flaws, these could be overlooked if you finish it to the end.

Because, there, it all makes sense.


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