Nobody ever accused me of having good taste in books, and I think that my enjoyment of classic V.C. Andrews virtually proves that. These books are like potato chips, in that you can't stop at just one. More often than not, they end on a cliffhanger, so you have to dive right into the next one. HEAVEN sets the stage for the series by introducing us to the super-poor Casteel family who live in a shack by the mountains, are basically trailer trash (except they live in a shack, so shack trash), and cursed with tragic beauty. :tear:
By the end of the book, Heaven's siblings have been auctioned off like cattle, she's been groomed by a predatory hebephile, and rejected by the man she thought she loved. If you think things couldn't possibly get any worse from there, pull on your big girl pants (or big boy pants) and take a seat, because they sure do. Heaven's new guardians are the parents of her birth mother and rich but flawed: Jillian is narcissistic and vapid, Tony is controlling and creepy. The only new "relative" she likes is her step-uncle, Troy, who lounges around in his cottage wearing puffy shirts.
This book was basically an exercise in reminding me why I hate all these characters. Fanny is terrible. Our Jane and Keith are terrible. Heaven's father is terrible. The pastor and his wife are terrible. Jillian and Troy are terrible. Logan is terrible (I knew it, though-- you can't trust boys). The girls at Heaven's boarding school are terrible, although there's this truly epic revenge prank involving a garment bag filled with diarrhea that was especially satisfying. I actually liked the ending, when Heaven goes a little crazy and dyes her hair to look like her dead mum's and wearing her mum's old dress, although I felt like what she did with that was a bit anticlimactic. I would have loved for her to dress up like the ghost of her dead mom and then fuck with Tony, who is a Certified Sick Fuck™.
Do I recommend this series? HECK YES. It's got tons of characters who are fun to despise, lots of over the top drama, and enough cheese to give Wisconsin a run for their Cheese Money™. I loved the FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC vibes this book gave me-- it all felt so claustrophobic and desperate, with enough atmosphere to drown in. Man, nobody can write doom like V.C. Andrews.
3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars