Title: What The Flower Says Of Death
Author: Danielle Koste
Demographic: Young Adult
Genres and themes: paranormal, romance, death and suicide, family and relationships
Release Date: September 25th 2018
TRIGGER WARNING – Both this post and the book itself discuss both suicide and self harm openly.
Synopsis – ‘Violet Holt has already met Death once.
After a failed suicide attempt, she finds herself dumped by her callous mother on the doorstep of her family’s desolate oceanside estate. With only the company of her estranged grandmother, comatose grandfather, and the monsters in her head, at least there was no one to interfere with her plans to try again on her eighteenth birthday.
No one, except maybe Jack: a skeleton of a boy who says he’s there to rake her grandmother’s leaves, yet seems more experienced at stalking than grounds-keeping. She knows he’s keeping a secret behind his gentle smiles and aloofness, but it’s difficult for Violet to be put off by his untimely thin-air appearances when figuring out the mystery of his true identity makes for such a good distraction.
Violet’s trauma is deeper than the wound on her wrist though, and it cannot be simply whisked away in a whirlwind of guessing games and pleasant gestures. She struggles to reconnect with her grandmother, find forgiveness for her mother, and closure with her grandfather’s dire condition, all while battling the strain of it all on her family. Even with a flicker of something hopeful blossoming within herself, Violet knows her birthday plans must be inevitable.
Death wouldn’t be there for her if it wasn’t.’
‘…limited cast of characters all playing such a heavy role.’
Violet, the female protagonist of What The Flower Says Of Death (WTFSOD) has significantly more depth to her than most of the leading ladies in YA. She’s dealing with one of the most difficult battles that anyone will ever have to face and living in a cold reality where the people she cares most about feel just out of reach. Even as the story progresses and the relationships strengthen or fall apart, she’s always slightly too scared of what they could mean for her in the long term to ever fully commit to what’s happening in the moment. I will be talking about what this book meant to me personally a little later on in this post, but as someone who has tackled her own battle with suicide, I’ve never seen a character written so closely to how I was feeling throughout that. Violet was cool, distant, kind and strangely idealistic at times but Danielle never failed to keep on writing a ‘real’ person. Typically I’ve found that when authors attempt to write about such a heavy issue, the characters often begin to fall into stereotypes but no one in this book ever did. Most importantly to me, every single character helped move the book forward in some way and were vital to the story because of that. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a novel that has such a limited cast of characters all playing such a heavy role.
Jack, the male protagonist was deliciously mysterious and intriguingly reminiscent of a classic novel style love interest. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a genuinely romantic character in YA. He was effortlessly written in that sense (in every sense!), and I dare you to not fall in love with him as you’re reading. Without the addition of spoilers, may I just say…that whole entire Christmas decoration scene though. *insert heart eyes emoji*
Violet’s mother and grandmother were oddly my favourite characters. Their relationship was a prime example of what can happen if you make mistakes as a parent and just how much that can affect not only the relationship with your child, but also how your child will turn out. Because of issues they had in the past together, everything has spiralled and has created a domino effect that played a huge part in why Violet is suicidal. I’m not sitting here primarily blaming her mother for everything, of course I’m not. There’s a lot of different and vital things that lead to someone even considering suicide, but WTFSOD has shown the impact bad familial relationships can have on a person in such an emotionally stirring way. Both Violet’s mother and grandmother undergo a lot of character development to get them to where they are at the end point of the book but I’m so glad they got there.
‘You will sob like you have never sobbed before..’
I’m going to be completely honest here (as I always am in my posts), and say that WTFSOD had the potential to be TOO bleak. It’s not an easy subject to read about in the slightest. However I found it to be an oddly comforting and cosy read. If you are planning on picking this up, it’s definitely a great choice now that the weather is getting colder and the blankets are coming out.
As a reader, we are given early insight (if you use your common sense of course) into what Jack’s big secret is, but Violet doesn’t find out for quite a while. I felt this worked perfectly and automatically made the pacing flow properly. To me, this was very much a book that had a beginning, middle and end. All very obvious and integral to the story.
The ending of this book was sad. That kind of earth shattering, gut wrenching, howl crying sad. But it was perfect. Any other ending would not have made sense to me, and it’s almost like every single character has the part they played in the story revealed. Like I’ve said, everyone is there for a reason and everything becomes clear in the last couple of chapters. But be warned. You will sob like you have never sobbed before.
‘…every ‘taboo’ is out in the open’
This is without a doubt an unapologetic look at what it is to be suicidal and as someone who has been suicidal before it was the most accurate portrayal I have ever read. I know that everything is all relative and everyone deals with things differently, but I can’t quite believe how much this mirrored my own life.
Just like Violet, I used to set myself ‘suicide dates’. A day in which if my life hadn’t changed for the better before then, I would attempt to kill myself on. These tended to be on my birthdays. Most notably my eighteenth and twenty first.
I also appreciated how Violet would be feeling happier but her mind would flicker slightly to how something could aid in killing herself or how she felt conflicted when she felt happy because her ‘date’ had been set.
The relationship she has with her mother was like looking at a reflection of my mother and I. Thankfully this relationship has improved drastically in recent years but my mum didn’t have the slightest clue how to help me with my self harming and suicidal thoughts. It was a pretty toxic environment for a while and I moved in with my boyfriend mostly to get away.
WTFSOD doesn’t shy away from anything, every ‘taboo’ is out in the open and I think people need to realise that not all familial relationships are good and you can take yourself away from that situation if you need to.
And to conclude…
Overall, What The Flower Says Of Death is one of the highlights of the year. It’s quite simply a masterpiece and I strongly urge you to buy yourself a copy. Magical realism at it’s finest.
I gave it a five out of five! 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁
BUY IT NOW
About the Author
Danielle Koste is a born and raised Canadian, but currently lives with her significant other in the equally snowy and cold Stockholm, Sweden. While working a day job and learning the language of the locals, she spends her free time honing the craft she’s always had a passion for.
When procrastinating, Danielle likes to enjoy other forms of rich story-telling, besides the obvious abundance of novels filling up her apartment and Kindle. Movies, music, and video games are among her favorite time-wasters.
A massive thank you to Stark at Random Melon Reads for introducing me to this phenomenal book.