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GIRL IN THE SHADOWS
by V. C. Andrews
Pocket Star, February 2006
416 pages
$7.99
ISBN: 0743493877


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

April Taylor has had a very difficult childhood. This is the second in the Shadow series books and it picks up her life's story when she finds a home with the elderly and wealthy Mrs Westington and her deaf 14-year-old granddaughter Echo.

After losing her parents, then being run out of her adult sister's home by her sister's lecherous girlfriend, and having lived and traveled with her alcoholic, magician uncle and his lifelike mechanical doll until he died, April is asked by Mrs Westington to act as a friend and companion to her shy and deaf granddaughter. Though unsure of herself as any other teen, April does her best to guide Echo out of her shell.

With the help of private tutor, Tyler Monahan, a handsome but weak young man, April hopes to get Echo ready to go away to live at a school that will prepare her for her future, but all the plans are ruined when Echo's mother Rhona reappears after an absence of ten years.

When Mrs Westington refuses to give Rhona and her boyfriend the funds for a get rich quick scheme, Rhona feels that April is the one influencing her mother to not give her the money. Soon April becomes the butt of Rhona and her boyfriend's vicious anger and things become so awful that she decides she must leave. But when Mrs Westington is taken to the hospital, April realizes that she's the only one who can protect Echo from Rhona and her boyfriend's evil plans.

GIRL IN THE SHADOWS is one of the least enjoyable books I have waded through in years. Whenever it suits author V C Andrews, the character of April is written either as an all-knowing 40-year-old, or as a backward, clueless, juvenile wimp. As a result, April is not a solid real character, she's obviously only there to keep the action and angst going. That's all.

All the other characters in the book are simple examples of a type with no nuances or surprises. We have the old wise woman, the over the top evil, greedy, selfish daughter, her sleazy over-sexed boyfriend, and even an old family worker, a black man who has given years of his life in the service of the Widow Westington while the two never breathe a word about the feelings they have for one another.

Extreme hand-wringing drama, unrelenting angst, selfish evil greed, attempted rape, nasty-minded references to lesbianism, the use of a lifelike mechanical doll and a twisting of the legal system to achieve blackmail all come together to make GIRL IN THE SHADOWS a dripping soap opera of the lowest class.

I know V C Andrews is popular from the front page's listing of her 13 different series of books, so I guess if you already like this type of writing, you will be a fan of this installment too. But for anyone who doesn't have a taste for overwhelming tragedy and angst, do skip this novel and series. Personally, I completely resent every single moment I wasted reading this book.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, May 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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