Title: Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery, suspense
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
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.
In Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca, Ariella “Ella” Benton is convinced supernatural forces are responsible for a series of strange occurrences that begin happening after her mother and new stepfather leave for their honeymoon. Turning to her new stepbrother, Blake, for help, she is soon uncertain whom to trust as they try to uncover the truth.
Despite never knowing her father, Ella feels a strong connection with him. She has a strong belief in the supernatural and she is convinced he is looking out for her. With both his birthday and the anniversary of his death coming up, Ella turns to tarot cards and séances to contact him in addition to her frequent trips to visit his grave. When Blake provides her with new information about her dad’s long ago death right before their parents’ wedding, she decides to hold off on confronting her mom with the inconsistencies until after she returns from her honeymoon. So when inexplicable things begin occurring almost as soon as her mom departs, Ella is certain that an otherworldly presence is responsible. However is there, in fact, a much more down to earth reason for the increasingly disturbing events that she is experiencing?
Ella is a likable, albeit somewhat naive and trusting, fifteen year old. She is not looking forward to gaining a stepfather but she is resigned to accepting him into her life. With everything just a little off kilter between her and her mom, Ella is clinging a little more tightly to her father’s memory than usual and she is angry when she finds out her mom has probably been lying to her about his death. However, not wanting to ruin her mom’s happiness or cause her to worry once she is on her honeymoon, Ella keeps quiet about this new information and the strange things that are going on in her absence. Instead Ella confides in her good friend Grace, but when her friend is not exactly supportive, she turns to Blake for help.
Blake’s relationship with his father has been troubled for years but with the upcoming wedding, he has decided to let go of his anger. Once he arrives in town for the wedding, he is nothing but kindhearted and considerate to everyone as they transition into a family. Once the wedding is over, Blake stays at Ella’s apartment while he waits to begin college. Although there are a few awkward moments between them, Ella and Blake seem to moving into an amenable step sibling relationship.
Ella’s situation quickly turns suspenseful as she begins experiencing frightening phenomena and hearing things no one else seems to hear. Initially, she is convinced these things are the result of a ghostly presence, but Blake and Grace’s reactions cause her to doubt herself. After Blake’s revelations about her father, Ella grows concerned she might be suffering from an undiagnosed mental disorder and after a horrifying and completely out of character incident, she is certain something is wrong with her. However, unexpected information comes to light that points in a completely different direction, but can Ella trust her instincts?
Black Flowers, White Lies is an intriguing young adult novel with a clever plot that will keep readers on the edge of their seats from the very first page. Yvonne Ventresca’s skillful misdirects and red herrings make it impossible to figure out what (or who) is responsible for the eerie events that Ella is experiencing. While the novel is well-written and quite riveting, the conclusion is rather rushed and the lack of a clear resolution is a little frustrating. Despite a few lingering questions, this young adult mystery is an engaging read that fans of the genre will enjoy.