I received this book for free from Netgalley, St. Martin's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Where Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on February 21, 2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Coming of Age, Young Adult Fiction / Girls & Women, Young Adult Fiction / Horror, Young Adult Fiction / Thrillers & Suspense / Supernatural
Source: Netgalley, St. Martin's Publishing Group
Andrea Hannah's Where Darkness Blooms is a supernatural thriller about an eerie town where the sunflowers whisper secrets and the land hungers for blood.
The town of Bishop is known for exactly two things: recurring windstorms and an endless field of sunflowers that stretches farther than the eye can see. And women—missing women. So when three more women disappear one stormy night, no one in Bishop is surprised. The case is closed and their daughters are left in their dusty shared house with the shattered pieces of their lives. Until the wind kicks up a terrible secret at their mothers’ much-delayed memorial.
With secrets come the lies each of the girls is forced to confront. After caring for the other girls, Delilah would like to move on with her boyfriend, Bennett, but she can’t bear his touch. Whitney has already lost both her mother and her girlfriend, Eleanor, and now her only solace is an old weathervane that seems to whisper to her. Jude, Whitney's twin sister, would rather ignore it all, but the wind kicks up her secret too: the summer fling she had with Delilah's boyfriend. And more than anything, Bo wants answers and she wants them now. Something happened to their mothers and the townsfolk know what it was. She’s sure of it.
Bishop has always been a strange town. But what the girls don’t know is that Bishop was founded on blood—and now it craves theirs.
I actually had this whole thing written out back in February but forgot to post it. Oops!!
First, the novel’s concept was quite compelling and made me want to read it, along with the cover. Second, I’m all for feminism and women helping women, but this novel fell flat. There were too many plot holes and boring motivations for what was going on. Finally, the prologue was the strongest part of the novel, while the rest was quite dull.
Delilah, Whitney, Jude, and Bo (Whitney and Jude are twins) are the four perspectives of the novel. For the most part, I kept getting each of the girls mixed up with one another. Out of the three characters, Bo is the most fleshed out. Unfortunately, going back and forth between their perspectives made it much more confusing (and annoying) than it needed to be.
The explanation for why all three mothers left was a huge letdown. I get that they realized they were next on the hit list, but you can’t grab your children before leaving. Then the sunflowers wouldn’t let them back in to rescue their daughters. It was also weak and annoying when the daughters forgave their mothers in only a few minutes.
The fact that the men in the town had magical capabilities, which is why they could get away with this for so long, was just odd. It feels a bit yucky, too, as one, men sexually assault or commit violence against women without magic, and two, removing a woman’s autonomy is too much. The ending with the youngest of the men, Delilah’s boyfriend, Bennett, giving his blood to the flowers before leaving was odd. Is he going to catch up to them? Is the town dead now? Will the flowers try to enact revenge? I’m thoroughly confused! And as far as I know, this isn’t a series.
Speaking of the sunflowers, I still don’t understand the point of them. It’s been weeks since I read the book, and I thought I was missing something, but I don’t think I am. The sunflowers encapsulate the town, and by the end, we find out that the sunflowers represent the women the men killed to keep the town alive. But if that’s the case, why do the sunflowers crave more blood from women?! Is it supposed to represent the theme of white feminism or women not standing up for other women? If so, it gravely missed the mark.
I also felt let down by Eleanor’s character. Before the novel opens, someone kills Eleanor, and yet most people forget about her. Why should I be surprised since Eleanor is a black girl and the mothers are all white? By the end, the book felt like a white-women-rage kind of feminism than true inclusive feminism. Especially when we all know that more Black and Indigenous girls and women go missing or are murdered than White women and girls, yet the primary victims focused on in this book are all white. It’s a bit of a flaw for me. And yes, Hannah is white herself, and I’m not saying she cannot write white characters, but she should give Black characters better due in this book. Or at least recognize that Black and Indigenous women and girls go missing (are murdered) more often than White women and girls. I don’t know the proper protocol here, and I don’t want to speak out of turn as a white person.
There were some good themes that the author is trying to explore here, but this novel definitely needs more rounds of edits and rewrites.