Title: Dark Flowers
Author: Caytlyn Brooke
Publisher: BHC Press
Category: YA Fantasy
Debut novels don’t get much better than this! Dark Flowers is a fairy story with a deliciously dark twist.
We’re introduced to Eliza as she manages to get herself thrown in solitary at St. Agatha’s which is a school/orphanage for girls. Straight away we get a sense that Eliza is mischievous and fun. She doesn’t enjoy her life at St. Agatha’s and as we learn more about the threadbare blankets, cruel tortures, and loveless lifestyle we feel for her and understand her need to rebel all the more.
She has one friend, Millie, who is the opposite in temperament and the yang to Eliza’s yin. They work well as a team. Fearing that one day Millie will be adopted and they will be separated, Eliza decides to run away with her friend through the swamps that surround the school.
It’s at this point Eliza and Millie meet the fairies. Cast all your ideas about soft smiles, fairy dust, and magic charms out of your head – Brooke’s fairies are straight out of a horror movie. Silver and black with sharp teeth and a lust for blood.
Following their meeting with the strange creatures in the swamp, the girls flee and return to the school. Millie begins to act differently and attacks a fellow student with a pair of scissors. More violence follows and as the plot uncurls we shadow Eliza as she tries everything to save her friend.
I fully understand how Dark Flowers won the Silver Medal in the 2017 Literary Classics Awards for YA Paranormal/Horror. It’s a terrifying page-turner with a wonderful storyline that will keep you up at night.
Life at St. Agatha’s School for Girls is anything but a fairytale. With ratty blankets and a torturous device called the box, it’s not hard to understand Eliza’s desperation to escape. When the timing is right, Eliza manages to run away with her best friend Millie, heading through the Louisiana swamps to the town on the other side. But the swamps may be even more dangerous than the orphanage.
Silver and black fairies invite the girls to experience a world where they can have it all, but Eliza doesn’t trust the sparkling beauty. When Millie suddenly becomes violent and attacks another girl, Eliza knows something awful is about to happen. She will do anything to protect Millie but once Eliza remembers her own terrible secret, it is impossible to forget. The fairies’ songs call to Eliza and its getting harder and harder to pretend it’s all in her head.