Who Else Writes Like V.C. Andrews?
Are there any other authors out there who write similar novels to V.C. Andrews? This is a question I see asked frequently in excellent fan run V.C. Andrews Facebook groups like Attic Secrets and The Dolls Club. In times gone by, The Complete V.C. Andrews webpage (which is no more, but the best bits are archived by Lorraine at the Attic Secrets blog,) had a comprehensive list. Today, I thought I would put forward a few of my own thoughts and recommendations. (Note: This will focus mainly on the series and novels written by the actual V.C. Andrews and not ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman, who has a distinctive writing style of his own.)
This is probably the best place to start, as it is likely that some of these novels influenced V.C. Andrews herself. Andrews was a fan of Charles Dickens, mentioning the author in the prologue of her most famous novel Flowers in the Attic. I have yet to read all of Dickens novels (I've read about half,) but I can feel a slight V.C. Andrews vibe in Oliver Twist and Great Expectations.
The next and most obvious classic to mention would have to be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. With themes of being orphaned, betrayed by family and a love interest whose first wife is (wait for it,) locked in an attic, this would have almost certainly influenced Flowers in the Attic.
And if one is going to read Jane Eyre, then it's worth checking out the fractured family relationships and themes of how the choices of one generation impacts on the next in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, sister of Charlotte. And while you're there, why not check out The Tennent of Wildfell Hall by the other Bronte Sister, Anne.
If you're looking for a classic with a lot more scandal, one that was considered a real page turner in its day (and it still is, by the way,) then why not try Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon? Lady Audley reminded me very much of Corrine Foxworth/Dollanganger.
20th Century Fiction
Last night I dreamed I went to Manderlay again ... and so begins Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a haunting gothic fairytale that is a rags to riches tale gone very wrong. It has also been made into an excellent film by none other than Alfred Hitchcock. While on Daphne du Maurier, two of her other novels have a similar gothic and slightly scandalous vibe--Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel.
What do Stephen King and V.C. Andrews have in common? Well, not a lot but plenty of V.C. Andrews fans have read Stephen King's work. With themes of parental abuse, and religious abuse, Carrie is probably a good starting point if you're a V.C. Andrews fan who is keen on horror with some good old fashioned paranormal activity.
Andrew Neiderman, who we all know as the V.C Andrews ghostwriter, was, at one point, an author of a number of trashy horror novels. He shared a publisher and agent with V.C. Andrews and she provided a recommendation and quote for Sister Sister, a trashy pulp horror novel. Many fans of Sister Sister also enjoyed PIN, though parts of the novel can come across as creepy and quite tasteless.
Another gothic novel that has a house at the heart and soul of the story much like Flowers in the Attic or My Sweet Audrina is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, an excellent and intriguing novel about a group of people who stay in a supposedly haunted house as a supposed scientific experiment. Another of Jackson's novels, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is on my TBR at the moment and is said to have an even closer VCA vibe.
A big part of V.C. Andrews work is the scandal and the examination of why people make the choices that they do. With that in mind, it's difficult to go past Anais Nin, an author and academic who became most famous late in life when a number of erotic stories that she had written for a private collector were published as Little Birds and Delta of Venus. Privately, Nin's life was full of scandal, as she undertook multiple extra-marital affairs and at one point was married to two different men who knew nothing of each other. Her diaries were originally heavily edited and published, however, following on from the deaths of Nin and her first husband, they were later published unedited and the revelations of affairs and incest were--and remain--quite shocking. A volume titled Henry and June is available as a Penguin Modern Classic while the more shocking volume, Incest, is published by a Harcourt.
Speaking to Miranda is a novel from my adolescence that is all about a young woman's search to understand her mother who passed away when she was small. Suffice to say that what she uncovers, along with the identity of the real Miranda is quite unexpected. Although this one won a lot of awards in its day, it has long been out of print and rightly received a lot of criticism for its ambiguous ending, which points to the possibility of a romantic relationship between the nineteen year old protagonist and her forty year old adoptive father, who was previously married to her mother.
This one only just scrapes in as 20th Century fiction, being published in about 1999, but Winter by John Marsden, about a young woman who returns to the home that she has inherited from her deceased parents only to find that it has been mistreated by its supposed caretakers is well worth a look. While you're there, look at some of Marsden's other works, which often feature young people who are trapped in situations that are not of their making by controlling adults.
By now, we're beginning to see some very successful and famous authors who have been influenced by V.C. Andrews. The most famous of them all is Gillian Flynn, who many would know for her novel Gone Girl. Equally good, and a little bit famous are her novels Sharp Objects and Dark Places, both of which have a real gothic vibe.
E Lockheart has her own distinctive style, but it's hard to go past her novel We Were Liars in terms of it being a story of family secrets and a heroine who is desperately trying to navigate her world. Likewise, Meg Roseoff has her own style, but there is something delicious about her novel The Great Godden, about a family who finds themselves exploited over the course of one summer by a boy who knows exactly what he is doing, but is too irresponsible to care. While you're there, look out for another Roseoff novel How I Live Now.
Twilight doesn't have a lot in common with V.C. Andrews, but I'm giving this one a shout out purely because like Rebecca it's one of those novels that nearly every VCA fan seems to have read.
The Seeds Trilogy by MM Kin. Written by a devoted fan of V.C. Andrews, this one is a Hades and Persephone retelling that has a slightly VCA vibe running though it.
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma is an uncomfortable story about a bother and sister who are in a situation not unlike Cathy and Chris from Flowers in the Attic, where they are forced to act as surrogate parents to their younger siblings due to the selfishness and irresponsibility of their mother. However, being forced to grow up too soon, and to work together so closely has devastating consequences. While you're there, check out Hurt by the same author, a story of memory loss.
Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson, about a woman who loses her memory every time she goes to sleep and is at the mercy of her husband, reminded me very slightly of My Sweet Audrina. It's a novel of just how easily another person's perceptions and realities can be manipulated.
Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer is a gothic novel set in Australia about two girls who are abducted and forced to live in an attic by a strange young man. Eventually, one of the girls falls in love with him ... and the other knows they must escape this hell once and for all. A well written story that flicks between the past and the present.
Joy Detmann has written a number of gothic novels set in rural Australia, including her famous Woody Creek series. However for a real VCA vibe it's difficult to go past her first novel, Mallawindy. A lesser known novel, Henry's Daughter has a similar vibe. The Hope Flower sequel to Henry's Daughter, which has already become more famous than the original, was published earlier this year. Look out for a role reversal regarding who is locking who up.
Finally, the biggest gong for the novel with the biggest VC Andrews vibe, and already hugely popular among VCA fans is The Ronoake Girls by Amy Engel. The story of a young woman who finds herself living with wealthy relatives after her mother dies has a lot of twists that are written in a way that shocks but never disgusts.
To recap (or for those of you who have scrolled down and are cheating,) my recommendations are:
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Tennent of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
Carrie by Stephen King
Sister Sister by Andrew Neiderman
PIN by Andrew Neiderman
Henry and June by Anais Nin
Incest by Anais Nin
Speaking to Miranda by Caroline MacDonald
Winter by John Marsden
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
We Were Liars by E Lockheart
The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Seeds Trilogy MM Kin
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma
Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson
Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer
Woody Creek Series by Joy Dettmann
Mallawindy by Joy Dettmann
Henry's Daughter by Joy Dettmann
The Hope Flower by Joy Dettmann
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Interested in digging deeper? Then why not try the back catalogues of the authors listed above?
These novels all have a gothic feel to them, but are not necessarily similar to the novels by V.C. Andrews:
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Bunny by Mona Awad
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevailer
The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth
Room by Emma Donaghue
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
History of Wolves by Emily Fridland
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Road by Neil Gaiman
The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
My Best Friends Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton
My Sister My Love by Joyce Carol Oates
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Scwarb
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
Into The Winter Dark by Tim Winton
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
Finally, let's face it. Some of us dive into the world of VC Andrews because we want a quick trashy read. Here are a few trashy reads full of scandals:
Kinflicks by Lisa Alther
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Naked Came the Stranger by Penelope Ashe
Glamour by Louise Bagshawe
The Devil You Know by Louise Bagshawe
Little Girl Lost Drew Barrymore
Fanny Hill by John Cleland
The Rest is Silence by Virginia Coffman
Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins
Lace by Shirley Conran
Riders by Jilly Cooper
Peril at Stone Hall by Jane Corby
Spindle Cove Series Tessa Dare
Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day
The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines
The Vincent Brothers by Abbi Glines
The Magic Cottage by James Herbert
Confess by Colleen Hoover
Slammed by Colleen Hoover
Fifty Shades of Grey Series by EL James
Beautiful Bastard Christine Lauren
The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore by Joan Lowery Nixon
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie Maguire
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Waitress by Melissa Nathan
The Winds of Jarrah by Marion Nixon/The House in the Timberwoods by Joyce Dingwell
Bleak November by Rohan O'Grady
Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn
Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard
Priceless Nichole Richie
The Truth About Diamonds by Nicole Richie
The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins
Dragonwyk by Anya Seaton
Castlecliffe by Sandra Shulman
The Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Duncan House by Gail St John
Zoya by Dannielle Steele
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susan
After Series by Anna Todd
No Angel Penny Vecinzi
Easy Tammara Webber
The Dark Wing by June Wetherell