Black Flowers, White Lies
By: Yvonne Ventresca
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date: October 4th, 2016
Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.
When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.
Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.
Exclusive behind-the-scenes fun fact!
Yvonne wrote the first draft of Black Flowers, White Lies in 2006, but despite many revisions, the story didn’t quite work, and was put in a drawer with novels one and two. She wrote and sold Pandemic, her debut YA novel, before completely rewriting the story as Black Flowers, White Lies around 2014.
Black Flowers, White Lies feels like it comes in three parts: a contemporary telling of a newly blended family, a supernatural chill fest, and a psychological thriller. These aspects build on each other, and add increasing pressure to our heroine, Ella, but the supernatural aspect felt lacking. There are mysterious hand prints and such, but I felt it was a quick side trip from the actual plot of the building psychological thriller, and the added page time spent entertaining the idea left me with whiplash. That being said, BFWL touches on something I haven’t read much in fiction geared toward a younger audience: gaslighting. The term refers to an abusive relationship where one party attempts to manipulate the other into believing they are crazy. In the book, it was done well, and while I felt that Blake was weird from the beginning, it should be noted that I went into the book expecting some weirdness to occur and with a little less naivety than Ella.
Speaking of Ella, she was initially a little hard to read about, her obsession with cats and her constantly rotating cat shirts gave me a sense of second hand embarrassment. However, her predicament and how she handled it let me grow to like her and appreciate her character. Her growth with those around her lead me to appreciate her character more, too. Her relationship with her mom is tested, but remains strong. And her friendship with the character Grace is similarly strained and tested, and Ella learns a lot about that relationship.
Overall, Black Flowers, White Lies was an entertaining and quick read. Ella grew on me as a character and I was able to recognize a new maturity in her by the end of the book.
Yvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES will be published by Sky Pony Press in October 2016.
Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In PANDEMIC, a teen struggles to survive not only a deadly outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. Ventresca’s other works include the short story “Escape to Orange Blossom,” which was selected for the dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM, along with two nonfiction books, PUBLISHING (Careers for the 21st Century) and AVRIL LAVIGNE (People in the News).
Find the author:
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Sep 23rd – Bean’s Bookshelf and Coffee Break
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Sep 30th – All For Love of the Word
Oct 1st – The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
Oct 3rd – Book Lovers Life
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. Author info, giveaway and more were provided by Jen Halligan PR. An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.