Flowers in the Attic by Virginia C. Andrews
Published by Pocket Books on 2004
Genres: Coming of Age
The four Dollanganger children move to their grandparents house with their mother. But things are not as they seem. Their mother then locks them in an abandoned wing of the large house and tells them it’s only for a few days …
First, let me get a few things straight. I don’t know in what universe this book would have been acceptable to read at 12 years old, but I think part of the horror of this book is the thought that 12 year old kids were reading it. I mean, if you were a pretty knowledgeable 12 year old who could handle graphic sexual abuse, incest, physical abuse, and mental abuse and be able to put the book down and go along your way unaffected, then… I guess more power to that 12 year old you. But let me tell you know, as a 38 year old woman, this book affected me and I only picked it up because I’d purchased it a while back for a read-along and thought.. what the heck, I’m in the mood for a story and this looks interesting.
So the premise is this: there is a mother, a father, and four children – they’ve been nicknamed The Dresden Dolls for their looks. A tragic accident happens and the mother and children make their way to the mother’s parents home – where horrible things are waiting. Namely – the children are locked into a room (and an attic) and are made to follow a set of rules put forth by a fanatical grandmother and there they wait… and wait… and wait.
When I say all sorts of things happen in this book that would have massively disturbed a 12-year-old me, I mean there are things that happen. Religious abuse is rampant throughout the book. So is parental abuse. The children turn to each other for comfort and while it was disturbing, it also makes sense because who else would they have turned to? The horror in this book is not the slash blood and gore type of horror – it’s a subtle horror that plays with your mind and makes you start to doubt common-sense ideas. I found myself justifying things and then immediately giving myself a mental smack to remind myself that the stuff I was justifying is not justifiable in any sort of healthy environment.
I don’t think I’ll continue this series, as curious as I am to see if the kids make out okay. That said, I had no idea that a book like this existed and I’m so very, very glad I wasn’t forbidden to read it as a kid because I, like many others have said, would have eagerly sought it out.
Check out these reviews!
- “The entire time I was reading it, I had this creepy and uncomfortable feeling settle within me. ” – Sarah Reads Too Much
- “Reading V.C. Andrews, and especially this book, almost seems like a rite of passage.” – Portrait of a Book
- “It’s a hell lot of fun, and you’ll be laughing, vomiting, and certainly smiling sadistically that you weirdly are enjoying this book!!” – Snark in the Attic