Author: Yvonne Ventresca
Released: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Length: 272 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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.
With its intriguing title and gorgeous cover, Black Flowers, White Lies immediately draws our attention and promises to be a great paranormal story, a frightening psychological thriller and a thorough exploration of loss and grief, all rolled into one. It is a pretty tall order for a relatively small book, so feeling mildly disappointed in the end doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Black Flowers, White Lies could have been a much better work, but it fell a bit short in execution and characterization.
Ella’s mother is getting married in a few days, but Ella struggles to let go of her father. He died before she was born, but she’s been thinking about him and visiting his grave her entire life. Ella is convinced that her father watches her and protects her, even though no one else understands her obsession. As a ghost story, Black Flowers merely scratches the surface and doesn’t give us nearly enough to justify describing it as such. Ella’s father could really be watching over her, or it could just be a figment of her imagination. There aren’t any definitive answers, which leaves us to wonder why this particular plot line was introduced in the first place.
The book fares slightly better in the psychological thriller department, where it at least makes a half-decent effort. The psychological mystery is thought through and developed, albeit with several plot holes, but the conclusion we work towards never actually comes. The person who works against Ella is painfully obvious from the start, and even though the red herrings draw our attention for a minute or two, we never really wander all that far. The biggest problem, however, is sheer lack of characterization for the villain. We never quite understand the person’s motives, and, without a final confrontation, we are left with a whole string of violent, manipulative actions that make very little sense. Motives are crucial for a good psychological thriller and leaving us without answers pretty much guarantees disappointment.
Nevertheless, Black Flowers, White Lies shows some potential and leaves things open for a (hopefully more focused) sequel, which has yet to be announced.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.