[REVIEW] Echoes of Dollanganger – V. C. Andrews

V. C. Andrews [also published as Virginia Andrews]
Christopher’s Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger (The Diaries, Book 2)
Simon & Schuster (US, UK, CA, & AU: 27th January 2015)
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TRIGGER WARNING: The book contains incest and rape. This review does not.

Flowers in the Attic didn’t reveal all the secrets of Foxworth. Unless Virginia Andrews included this last secret in her personal papers before she died, we can claim Echoes of Dollanganger‘s tagline as false.

First, some background: With the FITA telemovie rights sold was the announcement of what some would call a shameless cash-grab of a book deal: two novels about Christopher Dollanganger’s diary, to be found by a contemporary teen. These books were supposedly written to invoke feelings of nostalgia in readers, of when they first read FITA. On a scale of the ghost-writer keeping it 100 or weak tea (thank you, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore), that “nostalgia” reason sounds a lot like weak tea.

But okay, EOD has one Foxworth secret never before revealed. Only it is kind of out. Bittersweet Dreams, an original novel, was pushed back a year or so to enable the author/publisher to capitalise on the renewed FITA popularity. At first, just for the two Christopher’s Diary instalments. But then a third book sprung up, to be released this May. Considering its title, and that its summary does NOT name the lead character, it only took me one try to identify whom the book will be about.

EOD’s epilogue confirms my theory. We had to wade through TWO ENTIRE BOOKS to get to the secret. Yes, I had a feeling these books would waste time; and they have. ONE book would’ve been much better. But two books…kind of insulting.

Let’s face it: there’s nothing of interest going on the contemporary storyline with Kristin Masterwood. She finds the diary, she reads it, she has feelings. That does not make a story.

I suppose you could call Kristin’s boyfriend, Kane Hill, plot-worthy. But he sucks. He becomes jealous of the diary, that Kristin would rather spend more time reading it than with Kane. Yes, he’s jealous of an inanimate object – CREEP FACTOR #1. And he manipulates Kristin into feeling guilty, so he worms his way into combining the activities (Kane and the diary) by suggesting that he and Kristin read aloud from, and re-enact, scenes from Christopher’s diary – CREEP FACTOR #2.

Then he steals strands of Kristin’s hair, and takes it to a wigmaker to show the exact shade of blond to make a wig for Kane to better role-play Christopher Dollanganger (with Kristin as Cathy, of course) – CREEP FACTOR #3.

Look, I’m not sure how much creepiness is acceptable in a relationship, but I’m pretty sure that third creep factor on its own would be enough to quit any relationship. Only Kristin doesn’t dump him, and they continue role-playing Cathy and Chris until the diary ends.

Meanwhile, Kristin’s going around thinking that because of their diary role-play, her relationship with Kane is “deeper” than other people’s relationships. I would’ve said “creepier”, but whatevs. (Oh, and if you’re looking for a reason why Kane is so into this role-play? There isn’t one – not even the VCA staple of “madness”. He’s just creepy. So there’s no epic showdown or anything – it’s just boring.)

The ghost-writer deals with the reveal of the final Foxworth secret rather well. What does it say about a book (two books, actually), when the best-written part is the epilogue? Epilogues are usually the worst (maybe “least enjoyable”), so this is actually a welcome reprieve.

Do I intend to continue with V. C. Andrews’s releases? I have Fear of Missing Out, so yes. But hopefully they’ll be less boring and time-wasting than these two Christopher’s Diary entries have been.

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