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May 31, 2015

Secret Brother (The Diaries #3) A Concept by V.C. Andrews

another twist to the iconic story

Secret Brother (The Diaries #3) A Concept by V.C. Andrews
Simon and Schuster Pocket Books May 26, 2015
400 pages Paperback $7.99
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating: 3.5 stars

The most unexpected Dollanganger story of them all, new from the author of Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind; both now major Lifetime movie events.

A young boy suffers amnesia from a trauma he suffered in what feels like must have been another life. He’s adopted into a wealthy family—but what will happen when he learns the truth about his past?

Dollanganger Series:
Flowers in The Attic (1979)
Petals on the Wind (1980)
If There Be Thorns (1981)
Seeds of Yesterday (1984)
Garden of Shadows (prequel) (1986) Finished by the ghostwriter

Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth (October 2014; ghostwritten)
Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger (January 2015; ghostwritten)
Secret Brother (May 2015; ghostwritten)
Bittersweet Dreams (October 2015; ghostwritten)

Most readers my age remember reading the family saga that began with Flowers in the Attic which dealt with four young siblings undergoing unimaginable turmoil as they were locked up by their own mother in her rich parent's vast attic. If you haven't read it, you are missing out on something creepy. Something about the wildness and forbidden love kept young readers such as myself going back for more. The books outlined above are all favorite stories of mine. Once we get to the ghostwritten book releases of this decade there is certainly a different feel and taste to the stories. The gothic feel is gone, and more contemporary vibes are evident as the new characters are introduced into the original saga.

Unlike the previous two Diaries releases, Secret Brother does actually attempt to recreate the past by bringing back an original family member from Flowers in The Attic. And since the review is going to be very hard to write without spoiling it for everyone, I will stick to just how I felt about the book as opposed to a summary of the story.

Firstly, I will say that I am glad I read the book. Secondly, it is not for the impatient. I really wanted something more to be going on, something a little more spine tingling, something that would keep me up at night in the way that Flowers in the Attic had done. Instead, the main character Clara Sue (a name that didn't seem suited to the character) is really bratty and selfish - being told in first person narrative doesn't help with this negativity. The plot consists of how Clara Sue engages with her peers as she deals with the loss of her brother, and then how her relationship with the hottest guy on campus develops. In this respect, I would think that perhaps a true young adult reader would appreciate the novel. The other plot point is the tie-in to the original novel, which turned out to be dramatically anti-climatic. There is an excerpt of the next novel, Bittersweet Dreams, where once again we are whisked off to a whole new set of characters which means there doesn't seem to be a conclusion to Secret Brother. Or is there?

For the die-hard V.C. Andrews fan, this is not a form of gold. I have not read book two (Echoes of Dollanganger) as I was not sent it for review, and review books always have to take priority. I was sent book one, however, so I reviewed that here. I did buy book two, and Secret Brother is being called book three. Secret Brother can be read alone (provided you've read Flowers in the Attic) but I get the sense that the first two Diaries novels should be read together as the second installment continues book one.

At $7.99 a pop, you get what you pay for. An intriguing story, a flashback to your youthful past with the original V.C. Andrews novels, and something to look forward to with the other stories. Nothing will ever be written quite like the originals, but there is a reason why the estate continues to allow the ghostwritten stories: they sell. And the Lifetime movies were pretty good, also.