Whitefern is the 2016 ghostwritten sequel to V. C. Andrews' My Sweet Audrina. Mostly speculated to be a tie-in for the Lifetime Original Movie of the book, as to be expected after the release of the Christopher's Diary Series, the book's sudden appearance thirty-four years after the original novel caused some major fandom issues for various reasons.
The book follows Audrina Lowe (née Adare), now a grown, married woman. Upon the death of Audrina's once-domineering father Damien, Audrina's husband Arden is determined to become the new master of Whitefern, even if it means preying upon his wife's former mental illness to bend her to his will. But Audrina's eternally childlike sister Sylvia has begun to insist that Damien's ghost has returned to watch over the remaining Whitefern girls...and that a new, very special baby is coming. Uncertain if she is going mad once more or if she is the Only Sane Man, Audrina knows only that she has promised to protect Sylvia at all costs.
The book provides examples of:
- The Alcoholic: Arden tends to drink quite a bit at certain times in the book.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Continuing from the first book, it is unclear exactly what is wrong with Sylvia. This confusion is compounded since Sylvia's symptoms have almost entirely altered during the Time Skip.
- Bastard Boyfriend: Arden Lowe is still this Turned Up to Eleven
- The Beautiful Elite: The Whitefern girls are still remarked about how beautiful they are.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Audrina does this of sorts to Arden at the end of the book after discovering Arden was the one to rape Sylvia.
- Canon Discontinuity: Perhaps expected considering the ghostwriting and the long gap between works, but there are a few small but noticeable changes.
- Audrina mentions childhood incidents that would have happened in the course of the first book, but which we are only learning about now, some of which contradict the situation presented there. For example, in Whitefern Audrina states that both she and Vera were frequently spanked as children, even though we never witnessed Audrina being physically punished in the first novel—and in fact, one of Vera's specific complaints was that Audrina was never punished while she herself was spanked for every minor transgression.
- A very minor groundskeeper character is mentioned as having worked at Whitefern since Audrina's childhood, even though the first book stresses the family's isolation and Damien stated in the first book that he dismissed all the help in order to keep the secret of Audrina's rape and subsequent brainwashing.
- Audrina's middle name in the original book is Adele. Sylvia names her daughter "Adelle". Audrina expresses surprise that Sylvia remembers her middle name but makes no comment on the spelling. note
- Audrina states that Damien and Billie were married. In My Sweet Audrina, there's no indication that they were ever married. In fact, Billie tells Audrina that she is so happy being Damien's lover that she doesn't care if he never marries her. Since she dies shortly afterwards, one assumes he never had a chance.
- Clairvoyance: This trope is still in place but played with. Audrina has a "dream" that is somewhat not real but a clear sign of something that is really happening. The event makes it seem Sylvia has this gift too until the reveal Arden was whispering to her at night pretending to be Damian. That is until the end where Sylvia mentions something Papa said, after Arden was dead.
- Daddy's Girl: Audrina used to be one, and Sylvia became one during the Time Skip.
- Dark Secret: Arden convinced Audrina to keep a new one saying that Sylvia's baby is her own, all the while keeping his own dark secret that he is the father of Sylvia's child.
- Idiot Savant: An older Sylvia displays an amazing gift for painting in spite of the fact that in the original book, her motor skills were so poor that she has difficulty feeding herself.
- Kaleidoscope Hair: Audrina still has her unusual hair color, a mixture of blonde, chestnut brown, bright red, and white.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Audrina struggles to conceive despite many years of trying. She even considers adoption, but Arden insists that he wants an heir from "his own seed." When it becomes apparent that Audrina's barren, Arden rapes and impregnates Sylvia and forces Audrina to pass the child off as her own.
- Not as You Know Them: As mentioned in Time Skip, several things have changed in the time off page between My Sweet Audrina and this book.
- Audrina herself has lost a little of her childhood innocence but still overly believes people can be good to the point of becoming naive.
- Audrina has also apparently forgotten the names of her rapists even though she remembered them in MSA's narration (although she may have blocked it out again).
- Arden has become far less sincere and more "all about me" to the point of becoming a caricature of Damien. At one point, an angry Audrina confronts Arden with the fact that he's such a self-centered screw-up that he can't even replace Damien accurately.
- Damien was repulsed by Sylvia all throughout My Sweet Audrina, but it seems they grew much closer in the intervening years.
- Sylvia's motor skills and speech have greatly improved since the first book. She's mentally childlike, but no longer physically impaired.
- Retcon: The book makes it seem as if no one ever learned the identities of Audrina's rapists, so that Arden is able to secretly learn the name of one of the boys and use the information to blackmail Mrs. Matthews without his wife realizing who she is. This is in direct contradiction with My Sweet Audrina, where it is made clear that Audrina knew their identities at the time but forgot them during her brainwashing, only to recover them along with the rest of her memories. (Incidentally, this particular boy is never mentioned in MSA, even though she calls out the others by their full names.) It's unclear if this is a continuity error on Neiderman's part or just another example of Arden lying that readers of MSA should realize. Considering that Mrs. Matthews goes along with the blackmail, you could use that to argue Arden's truthfullness unless of course the actual conversation and his explanation to Audrina were two totally different things.
- Southern Gothic: Still a main theme of the book featuring the weirdness inside the Whitefern house.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Damian Adare has died at the start of this book.
- Time Skip: The ghostwriter begins this book with a significant time-skip. My Sweet Audrina and this book also to allow for some changes that are often called out.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Arden. While no great shakes in the first novel (he can, at the most charitable, be considered a weak-willed, inconsiderate, passive-aggressive coward who nonetheless seems to genuinely love his wife and regrets running away while she was being raped), by the time Whitefern happens, he's almost unidentifiable: a crude, unapologetic, condescending, misogynist alcoholic who attempts to bully his wife into compliance and keep her from her own money. He also makes jokes about Audrina's gang-rape and subsequent trauma, insisting that her previous mental illness makes her too irresponsible and unreliable to manage her own affairs. On top of this, he rapes both Audrina and the developmentally challenged Sylvia, gets Sylvia pregnant, and forces Audrina to go along with a scheme to pass Sylvia's child as their own. In the end he reveals that he knows the (allegedly) unknown identities of Audrina's rapists and could have identified them years ago. The turnaround is so startling that some readers suspected the ghostwriter of Creator Backlash, responding to decades of readers loathing the character by making him even more contemptible.