Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews

(Dollanganger, #2)

They were such brave children to withstand such suffering. Such clever children to escape such terror!

For Carrie, Chris and Cathy, the attic was a dark horror that would not leave their minds, even while they built bright, promising new lives. Of course mother had to pretend they didn't exist.

And Grandmother was convinced they had the devil in them.

But that wasn't their fault. Was it? Cathy knew what to do.

She now had the powers she had learned from her beautiful mother. She knew it in the way her brother still yearned for her, in the way her guardian touched her, in the way all men looked at her.

She knew it was time to put what she knew to the test. To show her mother and grandmother that the pain and terror of the attic could not be forgotten... Show them.

Show them—once and for all.

“Little girls get hurt when they play grown-up games.”

V.C. Andrews original books (pre-ghostwriter) could do tragic like no one else. Even after taking the children out of the attic, she still retained that distinctive and haunting tone that worked in the original. While Flowers in the Attic is the better novel, Petals on the Wind is definitely a worthy follow-up.

Cathy is again the lead, bent on revenge and not letting the past go. The author doesn't shy away from the intensity of her weird romance angles either, not including just a strange incestuous bonding with a brother, but also now including much older father-figure mentor who took her and siblings in when they had nowhere else to go. As weird as this sounds, I was rooting for Paul later; he was a fascinating character.

Petals perhaps focuses too much on relationship angst and woes, not just in one man or two, but four. Things soured for me with her Julian phase - the guy was such a controlling and abusive tool. She never sees it, either. I'm thinking VC Andrews lets that lie in there and occur without character growth because she is showing Cathy as the damaged being she is, led into vulnerable relationships that aren't always positive. How she didn't see abuse is questionable, yet combining the unstable relationship in the mystical world of ballet was a surreal treat.

I'll hold back the identity of the final guy, someone she actually loved with an intensity that defied years, since it's a small surprise twist that occurs later and ties all in the books in together. The ending with that one irritated me, though, would have been nice if it worked out differently. Sometimes it seems VC Andrews throws some things in there just for tragedy effect, but I can see the plotting twist purpose - showing another side of the villain and the lengths she'll go to reveal evils and keep her prettier face on, but also to have Cathy go to her ultimate better half for good.

“Angel, saint, Devil's spawn, good or evil, you've got me pinned to the wall and labeled as yours until the day I die. And if you die first, then it won't be long before I follow.”

Chris is still awesome, but still strange too. There comes another blow for the Dollanganger dolls, done to the point where it's almost melodramatic and too much, a little silly in its tragedy, just didn't work for me with what happens to one of them. In a way it's a poetic tragic ending, but it's also far-fetched.

We get to see the returning villains from Flowers, like the grandmother and the mother, but I won't spoil their condition or what happens. Let's just say there's a clever enough showdown, although it wasn't fully satisfying on all levels. It's interesting to read Garden of Shadows for the grandmother's viewpoint and to understand more where she's coming from, as much as in Flowers in the Attic as it is for this sequel.

By the time these relationships ended, it was downright tiring. Too much in one book. Still, they were intriguing on their own, the book has this unusual, haunting feel surrounding it, and it's unique enough that it grabs attention. Pacing may be slower due to too many relationship shifts, but so much happens in this book that I didn't feel cheated when the last page was read.

Even with flaws, it's hard to put down. These are fun drama wrecks I can't look away from.

   Book Quotes:

“All you need do is say good-bye to yesterday’s loves, and hello to the new. Look around and see who needs you most and you won’t go wrong. Forget who needed you yesterday.” 

“I think you might be the kind to put all the men you love up so high they are bound to come tumbling down.” 

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