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.
Black Flowers, White LiesFeatured
Ella my not have met her dad, but she cares for him a lot. No one could replace him, which makes it that much more difficult for Ella to accept Stanley and his son, Blake. To make matters worse? Blake is handsome, and kind, and pulls her out of all these lies because he can't stand to see Ella fall for something so fake. So maybe she can accept him after all. Especially since he's so helpful when all these mysterious and terrifying things keep happening to her. Ella learns however, that not everything is as it seems, and that perhaps not everyone is who they say they are.
"I know this even though I never met him. He died before I was born..." (Pg 1)
Ella is a strong believer in the paranormal world because she whole-heartedly believes that her father is watching over her. Ghosts, karma, fate, the universe; they all have possibilities that Ella believes in. She doesn't tell many people because no one seems to share her belief, until Blake listens and fails to mock her for it. Ella is naive and honest and far too trusting. She is easily freaked out and manipulated, easily pulled in by a kind smile or love for animals. She is an easy target in this novel, and someone takes advantage of that. They twist her world into something dark and dangerous, they frame her and deceive her. Through it all, her belief in the paranormal never seems to waver.
"I can't help feeling like something momentous has transpired. I'm a believer in karma and fate and the mysterious workings of the universe. As I watch Beautiful Boy walk away, I hope that meeting him again is meant to be." (Pg 7)
Blake is nice and seems to always be there for Ella when she needs him. But what do we really know about him? He is her step-brother, he's good looking, he is seriously into psychology, and he has a girlfriend. How is it that the author makes us feel like we know him so well when we really don't?
Grace is a rather horrible friend. To Ella at least since they have little in common. I was actually glad when we didn't see much of her after Blake's introduction.
The writing is smooth and connects perfectly with our main character as it comes off naive just like Ella, and honest and innocent. It helps readers connect with the character and fully see ad understand how her mind works. For the most part, it works well with the story, but at times it seems a tad too childish. As for the plot, it didn't really pick up until the end where the thrill really comes into place to give us a high-powered ending. Some parts were predictable and others seemed rushed.
Overall, Black Flowers, White Lies is a thrilling, mysterious tale that reads quickly.
What I Loved:
BLACK FLOWERS WHITE LIES has a fantastic, engaging premise. I love the set-up of the mystery behind her father’s death and the creepy happenings from the handprint on the mirror to the bloody signs. Alongside the mystery is a complex look at what happens when two families merge together and how to keep memories alive, even while moving on.
Ella’s dynamic relationship with her mother is another highlight. She loves her mom dearly, but when she suspects her mom has been keeping the truth from her, Ella wonders if she can trust her mom. Her mother is protective and supportive, even if a bit misguided at times, and their relationship feels so realistic and genuine.
What Left Me Wanting More:
While the premise held so much promise, the plot ultimately did not work well for me. The signs pointing to the truth are a bit obvious, and I was easily able to work out what was going on before I made it halfway through the story. However, readers who aren’t well read in psychological thrillers may find the twists more shocking.
Though I didn’t find any surprises in the story, BLACK FLOWERS WHITE LIES is an overall enjoyable read that explores the ways of the mind.
Ella still believes her dead father looks out for her. But her mother and BFF don't believe in the paranormal. Ella's mother quickly remarries and estranged son of her new stepfather shows up. Around this time strange things happen to Ella like a hand print on her mirror. Ella 'thinks' it's her father trying to communicate and warn her about something. Her new stepbrother Blake is handsome but also seems almost too quick to become close to her. After their parents go on a Parisian honeymoon, this is when the strange factor increases to the point that Ella worries if she's losing it.
What worked: The author does a great job showing the subtlety of a psychopath. Nothing over the top or graphic but enough to give a psychological creep factor to this novel. I like how Ella tries to figure out what is really going on to the point that she questions her own sanity. Readers don't know what to expect either. To be honest, I thought this would be a paranormal thriller but it's much more than that. Suspense, mystery, and even hints of a romance.
Blake is hard to figure out at first but there's little hints woven throughout to let readers know that something's not quite right. He's handsome, charismatic, and uses that charm with Ella and others around him.
There's twists and turns throughout this novel that gives it a Hitchcock appeal. Subtle psychological thriller with a surprising ending twist. Sure to appeal to those who love a good mystery and thriller without all the graphic elements.