Love, Death, and Other Lies, by Jerome Sparks, is a dark, gothic horror about tearing apart your loved ones for your own selfish whims, all for the sake of maintaining a fairytale that has long since withered away.
Abby is a young woman who has sacrificed herself over and over again for her spoiled older sister, Liv. In Abby’s eyes, Liv has everything, from a loving husband, to a wonderful daughter, to a wealthy lifestyle, to even the love of their own parents. One night, however, after a bloody confrontation between Abby and Conner, Abby slowly descends a chasm filled with blood and sorrow. Soon, Abby finds herself clinging to her bittersweet memories, as Liv tries to find her way out of a demonic deal she made. As the story continues, the two sisters realize that sometimes, fairytales were never meant to be, and that there are no such things as happily ever after.
I loved the contrasts Sparks made between Abby and Liv. While Liv really did have everything her naive heart desired, Abby had to live in the relative silence of the real world. While Liv was spoiled sweet in the beginning, in the end, she really was only living for herself, so much so she was willing to sacrifice her daughter, just so she wouldn’t have to die. Abby, on the other had, has led a hard life. She was blamed for the things that her sister caused, lost a full scholarship that would’ve guaranteed her future, and maimed both herself and someone else in a drunk driving incident. But despite that, she managed to find some solace in her life. She’s a kind woman who gives selflessly, even when the world seemed to be out to get her. It’s the reason why I feel their endings were appropriate, to be honest.
What’s more, I loved Tegan. She was always a bit normal, and personally, she reminded me of my father. She was brilliant, and though I could see a lot of problems with the fact that she can communicate with the dead, she was a key figure in redeeming Abby and condemning Liv. I cheered when she stood up for herself at school, and grimaced when Liv scolded her for it. Conner had wanted a boy, and Liv thought what would’ve happened if Tegan had just died. Everyone in school, aside from the teachers, believed she was strange. It appears that she really was only loved by Abby.
This leads me to one of the themes in the book, that real love can conquer even the most darkest of situations. Over and over again Abby has had to overcome obstacles in her life. But even then she still made something of herself. In a way, she sees this in Tegan who, because of her unique abilities, may have to share the same struggles as well. It may not be to Abby’s extent, but it carried the same principles nonetheless. She wasn’t like Liv or Conner, who just had things handed down to them, all the while dutifully following societal expectations. I loved how Sparks utilized their common similarities, and produced a relationship that was so endearing in the book. It’s through this relationship that Abby managed to come back for Tegan, and shows that love doesn’t fade, even in death.
Despite this, the book does have some detractions. There were times when words were capitalized when they weren’t supposed to be. There were also indention and spavin errors. The transitions between interludes could also be clearer.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book, and would give it an overall rating of a 4.5 out of 5 stars. The character parallels were extraordinary, and the way Spark built the plot around the characters was wonderful. As such, I would recommend this book to fans of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, and V.C. Andrews’s Petals in the Wind.
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