Books with grisly secrets… (part 1)

Some books are pleasant, cheerful, heartwarming reads. Some books are full of horror from start to end. But what about the books that secret their rich gems of shock value within nests of mystery, or masquerading as something less shocking? In this blog entry, I explore a few of the books that will gently lull you into security, before making you sick with shock.

1. “Roxy’s Baby” by Catherine MacPhail

This vastly underrated diamond of a book was shortlisted for the Manchester Book Award, as well as longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. It also won the 13-16 category at the 2006 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children’s Books. I first read this book when I was twelve years old, and before I could appreciate the venomous, disgusting horror that lurks within the wonderfully-crafted plot. I re-read it when I was fourteen, and even though I had a vague understanding of what happened from the first time I read it, I was still shocked by the genius plot-twist. I stayed up all night trying to finish reading the book, and when I at last neared the end, the storyline cut through my haze of tiredness, and shocked me to the bone.

The story follows a fifteen-year old girl named Roxy, who, following sleeping with a boy at a party, discovers that she is pregnant. She runs away from home. She goes to stay with a couple named Mr and Mrs Dyce, who let young women in Roxy’s situation stay in their countryside home. The place seems strange; the women are not allowed to listen to the radio or read newspapers, or even watch the news. They also seem to disappear following the birth of their children. The Dyces have reasonable explanations for all of these strange rules, but Roxy is suspicious, and soon begins to uncover a wealth of sinister secrets behind the Dyces supposed kindness.

2. “The Flowers in the Attic” by V.C Andrews

This was a book that my mom gave me (she owned and read it herself as a teenager)  and which I thought would be a boring chick-lit, having never experienced the genius of V.C Andrews before. I read this book over four non-stop hours, filled first with indifference, which quickly turned to interest, then to foreboding, and then to internal screams of horror. If you’re looking for a book that will scar you in the best way possible, look no further.

The story follows the protagonist, Cathy Dollanganger, and her siblings; older brother Chris, younger twin sister and brother Carrie and Cory. Following their father’s death in a road accident, Cathy, her mother and her siblings must go to live with their cruel and strict grandmother, in a huge mansion. While this may sound wonderful, it is actually the pathway into disaster. They are smuggled in, and the four children are locked into a bedroom in one wing of the mansion. From their concealment onwards, things start to fly out of control, in a way that is almost impossible to describe without spoiling the story for you all! Let’s just say that if you think this will be a happy and delightful tale of flowers and lovely attics, you are mistaken. This book, within the spirals of a tightly-plotted and genius storyline, contains an array of sickening twists; from betrayal, to incest, to murder and terrible acts of cruelty. As soon as you turn the last page of “The Flowers in the Attic,” you will want to pick up the next in the series, as I did. The book that follows in the series, “Petals on the Wind” is written in the same style, and just as morbidly fascinating.

 

This has been my first installment of what I hope will be many blogs detailing the books with the darkest twists. In the meantime, I will be posting other reviews, top-ten lists, opinionated rants, or whatever takes my fancy! Thank you all for reading, and please let me know in the comments if you have any book recommendations for me! 😀

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