Many people have a book series from their childhood or formative years in which they are very fond of. I know so many Harry Potter, Twilight, and Lemony Snicket fans (ok, it is a stretch to say I know people who are still fans of Twilight, although I have seen some very interesting Instagram accounts of grown women dressing up as and pretending to be Alice. And they even find grown men to pose as Emmett or Jasper…).
I’ve read a lot of series growing up I have enjoyed immensely, but the one series that I will continue to read new books and read old books is the Dollanganger series from V.C. Andrews. I’m not sure why I have such an attachment to such a dark and twisted story line, but my favorite Disney movie growing up was The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which the book was even worse, but I absolutely loved it, and need to reread it as an adult soon) if that tells you anything about my young mind.
My mom was the one to introduce me to Flowers in the Attic in middle school, and I subsequently introduced it to my best friend who was also a book worm, and to my other friends, I showed them the weird, messed up parts, because I’m such a good friend.
For those of you who don’t know the Dollangangers, they are a family with generations of dark secrets, family trauma, and well, incest. You may have seen the movies Lifetime made starting with the remake of the first novel made into a movie. It was famous for depicting a romance between a brother and a sister while they are going through extreme child neglect.
The original series includes four books that follow the original children into adulthood and a prequel telling the story of the grandmother (all of which were written by the real V.C. Andrews and not the ghost writer). Then three more books came out set in the future based on the diary from Christopher, the brother of said romance.
The latest installment in the series is a pre-prequel (I guess pre-pre-prequel since it is the story of the great-grandmother of the original children), Beneath the Attic. The writing is what I expected of the ghost writer, definitely not as good as my girl. But there was an interesting take on sexual assault.
First of all, this book was too modern for the time it was set in. The speech didn’t seem realistic and the attitudes were too progressive. What do you mean you had the term “sexual assault” in 1890??
I felt as if this book was trying to keep up with the times in the 21st century. It tackles an alcohol facilitated sexual assault (by a gaslighting, master manipulator with mommy issues), but everyone seems to know what that is. The nurse she goes to labels the experience as rape. Her father doesn’t blame her for ruining her purity. No one thinks she’s broken or dirty.
People today don’t even think that! And do you know how hard it is for survivors in situations where they willingly got drunk and someone had sex with them when they couldn’t consent to label their experience as sexual assault?? This was all too neat for 1890.
And then there’s the dynamic in just about every V.C. Andrews books where there is a rape/sexual assault (not counting the instances of girls young enough not to be able to consent to having sex with men old enough to be their fathers) of the women still loving and desiring (i.e. wanting to have sex with them) these men that I have never understood. But I guess life is messy like that as well.
Despite the ghost writer running my favorite series into the ground (because the diaries series books weren’t all that great either), I’m still going to read these books as they come out. It seems like the way this book ended that they will be coming out with another book, or at least I hope so because that ending was unsatisfying. You can’t just drop weirdness on me and then end!
What’s a dark and/or twisted series you enjoy?