Capturing Angels by V.C. Andrews
On August 7 a new novel baring the name V.C. Andrews on the front cover will be released on to the global eBook market. Incredibly, this is the seventieth (or thereabouts,) novel to bare the authors name to be released since 1979. What makes this fact even more remarkable is that V.C. Andrews, who is most famous for her gothic horror/romance novel Flowers in the Attic, died in 1986 having published just seven novels in her lifetime--Flowers in the Attic, Petals to the Wind, If There be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, My Sweet Audrina, Heaven and Dark Angel, while a science fiction novel titled Gods of Green Mountain would be released many years later. In the years that followed her death, more novels continued to be released, completing the Dollanganger and Casteel Sagas, Garden of Shadows, Fallen Hearts, Gates of Paradise and Web of Dreams. It was only in 1990 that her estate finally announced that the author had died and these novels had been completed based on her notes, by a carefully selected author, who was later revealed to be Andrew Neiderman, a horror writer whose most famous novel is The Devil's Advocate. Neiderman had the same agent and publisher and V.C. Andrews and was able to mimic her writing style. What was more surprising was that in their letter, the Andrews family revealed that they would continue to work with Neiderman to write additional books based on her vision. Not only has the number of additional books far exceeded anything that V.C. Andrews wrote and published in her lifetime, but the books themselves have changed considerably. Gone are the family sagas, which would chronicle a young woman's journey toward maturity in the most dire of circumstances (many of the early books read like a fractured fairytale--for example in the Casteel saga, Heaven grows up in a poor, loveless family, discovers she has rich grandparents who want to adopt her and eventually finds herself with a wealthy but loveless family,) and would conclude with a sequel about the protagonists daughter and a prequel about her mother or grandmother (the last family saga to be published was the DeBeers saga ten years ago). Also gone are the bitter and twisted family matriarchs, whose misplaced sense of sin and poor decision making would impact on the lives of their children, grandchildren and even their great-grandchildren. Instead, the books are stand-alone or two part novels that usually feature a young protagonist and increasingly seem to include paranormal themes--Into the Darkness for example tells the story of Amber, whose first boyfriend turns out to be a ghost. There's also the rather bothersome habit that Andrew Neiderman has of referring to her novels as 'the V.C. Franchise' on the official V.C. Andrews facebook page--if these books have become a franchise, then surely they have lost their magic and original vision, of keeping the memory of a unique and talented writer alive. On the plus side, the facebook page is updated regularly and personally by Neiderman. But that is small compensation for fans, who feel that the memory of their favourite author is now being dragged through the mud, rather than celebrated.
Capturing Angels is said to be another new direction for V.C. Andrews. According to the advertising material, V.C. Andrews, queen of Gothic fiction for twenty-five years, explores a new genre in her [sic] women’s fiction debut—available exclusively as an eBook. A young mother struggles to keep her marriage together in the wake of her daughter’s kidnapping…and to keep hope of her return alive. (Source: Amazon.com). In other words, the ghostwriter and publisher are turning to a new format and genre in the hope of keeping people interested. Personally, I feel this is a mistake. For one, these are not the tales that the author everyone is supposedly paying tribute to liked to tell. For another diehard fans have been complaining for years now on various websites (most commonly the facebook page,) that Gods of Green Mountain is available only in eBook format and that they would like to see it in print. Many fans have complained on facebook that Capturing Angels will be in eBook format only. Not everyone has or wants an eReader and many simply want a paper copy to keep with their collection. Strangely, neither Neiderman or Simon and Schuster has done anything to address demands or concerns of longtime fans. Perhaps the wisest thing for longtime fans to do is to boycott the novel completely and remember VC Andrews by re-reading the novels that she published during her lifetime.