Unlike many others in my high school, I didn’t read Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger) then. It had a black cover with scary zombie children, and I was under the impression that it was horror about vampires. Much later I learned that it was actually about incestuous children in an attic. I have now read it, and believe that I have discovered the source of fandom’s incest obsession, at least that incest-happy section of fandom which is American and read the book in their formative years.

This is a great book to read on a plane, especially when you can poke your seatmate and read bits aloud. In the first chapter, titled “Goodbye, Daddy,” a highway patrolman comes to the house of the lovely Momma and her four children, Chris, Cathy, Carrie, and Cory. His explanation of what happened is a typical example of how Andrews fulfills expectations (Dad was squashed on the highway) and then takes them not just one, but at least two steps further into feverish melodrama than one expects:

”According to the accounts, which we’ve recorded, there was a motorist driving a blue Ford weaving in and out of the lefthand lane, apparently drunk, and he crashed head-on into your husband’s car. But it seems your husband must have seen the accident coming, for he swerved to avoid a head-on collision, but a piece of machinery had fallen from another car, or truck, and this kept him from completing his defensive driving maneuver, which would have saved his life. But as it was, your husband’s much heavier car turned over several times, and still he might have survived, but an oncoming truck, unable to stop, crashed into his car, and again the Cadillac spun over… and then… it caught on fire.”

As if those THREE accidents weren’t enough, the cop then produces the charred stuffed animals Daddy had purchased for his kids, which he had been driving home to deliver but which ended up strewn across the highway of death!

Momma then whisks her kids away to the ominous house of her parents, who hate her. I had thought the mention, early on, that Momma and Daddy looked like brother and sister was foreshadowing for the upcoming incest. No! It was foreshadowing for the revelation that Momma and Daddy were, in fact, related. He was her half-uncle! So her mother hates her and her incestuous spawn, and Momma and grandmother lock all four kids in the attic until Momma can find the right moment to tell her ailing father about them. Or for the aging father to will her tons of money and die.

Three years of increasingly melodramatic child abuse in the attic ensues. The grandmother spots Chris seeing Cathy naked and tries to hack off her hair. Then she sneaks in, injects Cathy with a sedative, and pours tar over her head. Chris pees into the bathtub to de-tar Cathy’s hair, and it comes out silver and more beautiful than ever. Grandmother doesn’t feed them for a week, and Chris cuts his wrist with a penknife and feeds the others on his own blood!

Momma re-marries and STILL doesn’t let them out of the attic. Chris and Cathy angst and lust over each other. Cathy sneaks out and beholds Momma’s bed, which is shaped like a swan.

And then came the most melodramatic twist yet!



Cory dies horribly – and it turns out that Momma poisoned him with arsenic disguised as powdered sugar on doughnuts! Her father already died and left her all his money, so she wants to get rid of all her children of incestuous shame. The survivors flee. The end. Except for four sequels.

Truly awesomely bad, and also great plane reading if you like that sort of thing. I want to pass it on to Kaori Yuki for a manga adaptation. She would probably add zombies.

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com


I remember seeing these books, too, as a kid, with their cut-out covers and strange looking children. There were always more and more of them.

I was fascinated by the ways paperback covers were manipulated. Embossing. Pseudo gold leaf. Cut-outs.

... I wasn't ever tempted to read the books, though.
.

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