Julie's Reviews > Poinciana

Poinciana by Phyllis A. Whitney
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2020, e-book, gothic, mystery-shelf, suspense, scribd

Poinciana by Phyllis A. Whitney is a 2017 Open Road Media publication. (Originally published in 1980)

A solid, classic Gothic mystery from one of the best writers in the genre

This story is centered around Sharon, a young woman who lost both of her parents in a tragic accident. Shortly thereafter, she marries Ross, an old friend of her parents, who is considerably older.

Ross soon installs his new bride in Poinciana, his Florida estate, where she receives a rather chilly reception from Ross’s business associates. From there, Sharon must contend with Ross’s petulant, willful and resentful daughter, and his ex-wife, who gleefully keep Sharon off -balance.

The suspense builds as Ross becomes increasingly cold and controlling and Sharon discovers some shocking secrets Ross initially withheld from her. As the tension mounts, Sharon feels more and more isolated, as it becomes clear that someone is trying to drive her away from the estate…


This book reminded me of how much I enjoy reading Phyllis Whitney’s novels. Whitney published more than seventy books over the course of her career, so there are still many of her novels I have never read- and this was one of them.

The Gothic themes Whitney is famous for are all present and accounted for, as is her signature style of writing, which employs a slower, tantalizing pace that keeps readers on the edge of their seats waiting for the shock they know is coming- but that blindsides them all the same.

Sure enough, this story has a few huge twists I didn’t see coming and the atmosphere is relentlessly thick with tension. I was completely immersed in the story and even stayed up a little late a couple of nights unwilling to put the book down.

That said, there are a few things modern readers should know- and maybe long-time fans should be reminded of:

This book was published many years ago, and the style of writing reflects that. Sharon is a much more innocent, sheltered character than we encounter today, and I’m not sure how contemporary readers will feel about the age difference between Ross and Sharon. The pacing is not as brisk as we are accustomed to now, but in my opinion, that is part of why these stories are so suspenseful. However, despite the slight dated quality of the novel, it is still quite effective.

It also struck me, when I had finished reading the book, that the story was also very refreshing. The book only has a little mild language, and while it is very intense in some places, the violence isn’t graphic, and of course the very mild romance is chaste in the extreme. The story was just as suspenseful, creepy and enjoyable without all the sexual content, F-bombs, (or worse), and violent accoutrements.

Overall, this was a nice change of pace for me and I’m happy to have another Phyllis Whitney novel under my belt. I wish I could find the time to read more of these older books!

4 stars

*Note:
For those who are unfamiliar with PW, The New York Times once dubbed her as the The Queen of American Gothics. If you enjoy Gothic mysteries, or romantic suspense, I think you will like this author. If you are a YA fan- Whitney also wrote mysteries for younger readers as well.
Because many of her books are older, and probably out of print, you may have to get creative if you only read print books. However, there is a nice quantity of her books released by Open Road Media in digital format. I’ve found them on Scribd and on my Overdrive app as well.

One might also be surprised to learn that the publisher has been promoting this book as a ‘domestic thriller’, probably to appeal to a more contemporary reader, and perhaps to introduce Whitney to a new audience. However, I admit I was a little skeptical, and slightly dismayed, to find her books categorized within a sub-genre I have mixed feelings about right now. However, I will grudgingly admit this book certainly could meet the criteria for a psychological thriller or domestic thriller, so if you are a fan of those genres, you might find this book to your liking as well.
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Reading Progress

May 21, 2017 – Shelved (Hardcover Edition)
May 21, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read (Hardcover Edition)
May 21, 2017 – Shelved as: gothic (Hardcover Edition)
May 21, 2017 – Shelved as: hardcover (Hardcover Edition)
May 21, 2017 – Shelved as: collectable-books (Hardcover Edition)
May 21, 2017 – Shelved as: vintage (Hardcover Edition)
May 21, 2017 – Shelved as: romantic-suspense (Hardcover Edition)
May 21, 2017 – Shelved as: retro-romance (Hardcover Edition)
May 21, 2017 – Shelved as: retro-read (Hardcover Edition)
December 30, 2019 – Started Reading
December 30, 2019 – Shelved
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: 2020
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: e-book
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: gothic
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: mystery-shelf
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: suspense
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: scribd
January 28, 2020 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 71 (71 new)


message 1: by Ceecee (new)

Ceecee I think I read some of her years ago but can’t remember which ones! Terrific review Julie ❤️


message 2: by Robin (new)

Robin Reynolds I haven't read a Phyllis Whitney in many years but I loved her once upon a time, along with Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. This one doesn't ring a bell so I must have missed it. But I do still love reading older books like this.


Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! Oh my goodness I so need to read this!!! I used to read her all the time! Fabulous review, Julie!


message 4: by Richard (new)

Richard A fine review Julie ......... sounds like an exciting read!


Julie Ceecee wrote: "I think I read some of her years ago but can’t remember which ones! Terrific review Julie ❤️"

Thanks so much, Ceecee!! She had lots of books- I'm not entirely sure which ones I read either, really. 💖


Julie Richard wrote: "A fine review Julie ......... sounds like an exciting read!"

Thank you, Richard! It's a style of book I have a weakness for. 😊😊


Julie Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "Oh my goodness I so need to read this!!! I used to read her all the time! Fabulous review, Julie!"

Thank you, Norma!! Phyllis was such a popular author is her day. It's fun to read, or re-read, her books now. 💖


Julie Robin wrote: "I haven't read a Phyllis Whitney in many years but I loved her once upon a time, along with Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. This one doesn't ring a bell so I must have missed it. But I do still lov..."

Phyllis was a well loved author- I also like Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. Great authors, wonderful stories- and memories! 💖


message 9: by Holly (new)

Holly  B A Wonderful review Julie!


Julie Holly wrote: "A Wonderful review Julie!"

Thanks so much, Holly!! 💖


message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy Great review! I was thinking as I read it that I associated this author with YA books for some reason, and then you explained it. :)


Julie Amy wrote: "Great review! I was thinking as I read it that I associated this author with YA books for some reason, and then you explained it. :)"

Thank you, Amy!! Her adult books are pretty tame too, but there is definitely a difference between the two. 💖


message 13: by Debra (new)

Debra Fabulous review, Julie! I love Gothic mysteries!


Julie Debra wrote: "Fabulous review, Julie! I love Gothic mysteries!"

Thank you, Debra!! One of very favorite genres!💖


message 15: by Velvet (new)

Velvet What a great review!


Julie Velvet wrote: "What a great review!"

Thank you very much, Velvet! 💖


message 17: by Janille (new) - added it

Janille N G This sounds right up my street...I love a good Gothic romance/thriller! I’ll have to check it out. Great review! ☺️


message 18: by RedemptionDenied (new)

RedemptionDenied Excellent review, Julie! Glad you enjoyed!


Julie Janille wrote: "This sounds right up my street...I love a good Gothic romance/thriller! I’ll have to check it out. Great review! ☺️"

Thanks so much, Janille! Hope you enjoy it!! 💖


Julie RedemptionDenied wrote: "Excellent review, Julie! Glad you enjoyed!"

Thank you, RD!! 😊😊


message 21: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa I still have this in hardback, sitting in the closet from what back in the day! I adored Whitney. Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart were also favorites who are sitting in boxes all together! Great review!


message 22: by Dorine (new) - added it

Dorine Great review, Julie! I don't think I read this one, so putting it on my wishlist. Love her books!


Julie Lisa wrote: "I still have this in hardback, sitting in the closet from what back in the day! I adored Whitney. Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart were also favorites who are sitting in boxes all together! Great rev..."

Thanks so much, Lisa!! All three of the authors you mentioned were great writers in their field, and so well loved! I'm so glad you kept your collection together all these years!! 💖


message 24: by Julie (last edited Jan 28, 2020 04:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Julie Dorine wrote: "Great review, Julie! I don't think I read this one, so putting it on my wishlist. Love her books!"

Thank you so much, Dorine!! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 💖


message 25: by Heidi (new) - added it

Heidi This sounds like a good read— and I love reading new to me authors!


Julie Heidi wrote: "This sounds like a good read— and I love reading new to me authors!"
I do too, Heidi!! This author was a super popular during the sixties and seventies especially. I love reading these older books once in a while. 💖


message 27: by Sandra (new) - added it

Sandra Fantastic review Julie, this book looks really good! :D


message 28: by Antoinette (new)

Antoinette I haven’t read her in forever. After your enticing review, I may have too.


Julie Sandra wrote: "Fantastic review Julie, this book looks really good! :D"

Thank you, Sandra!! You might like this one! 💖


Julie Antoinette wrote: "I haven’t read her in forever. After your enticing review, I may have too."

Thank you, Antoinette!! It is fun to read these older books. PW brings back fond memories for many people. 💖


message 31: by Paula (new)

Paula Wonderful review, Julie!


Julie Paula wrote: "Wonderful review, Julie!"

Thank you, Paula!! 💖


message 33: by Janice (new) - added it

Janice Boychuk Excellent review! I just downloaded Things In Jars from Overdrive, which is supposedly a gothic mystery as well. I've not been familiar with this genre until now!


Julie Janice wrote: "Excellent review! I just downloaded Things In Jars from Overdrive, which is supposedly a gothic mystery as well. I've not been familiar with this genre until now!"

Thank you, Janice! I can't wait to read 'Things in Jars'. I hope you enjoy it!! I love almost anything with a Gothic flavor! This book is not the same style of Gothic, I'm sure. PW, along with Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart, and few others were wildly popular in the sixties and seventies. It's fun to read these books now, after so many years. 💖


Brenda -Traveling Sister Wonderful review, Julie!


message 36: by Shruti (new)

Shruti Wonderful review, Julie! ❤️


Julie Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Wonderful review, Julie!"

Thanks so much, Brenda!! 💖


Julie Shruti wrote: "Wonderful review, Julie! ❤️"

Thank you, Shruti!! 💖


message 39: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Fabulous review, Julie! I love this author and it has been years since I read one of her books. I haven't read this book, so I am going to check it out!


Julie Meredith wrote: "Fabulous review, Julie! I love this author and it has been years since I read one of her books. I haven't read this book, so I am going to check it out!"


Thank you very much, Meredith!! I hope you enjoy it! 💖


message 41: by Bookish Ally (new)

Bookish Ally I do love a gothic!


message 42: by Julie (last edited Jan 29, 2020 09:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Julie Bookish Ally wrote: "I do love a gothic!"

Me too-one of my very favorite genres! 💖


Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell This is one of my favorites of Whitney's!


message 44: by Elyse (new)

Elyse  Walters Thanks for this wonderful and very informative review Julie 💕


message 45: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Splendid review Julie 💖


Julie Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ wrote: "This is one of my favorites of Whitney's!"

I've enjoyed most PW's books, but this one is one of the best I've read so far. 💖


Julie Maureen wrote: "Splendid review Julie 💖"

Thank you so much, Maureen! 💖


Julie Elyse wrote: "Thanks for this wonderful and very informative review Julie 💕"

Thank you, dear Elyse!! 💖


message 49: by tamar (new)

tamar such a good review Julie, sounds like something I will love


Julie tamar wrote: "such a good review Julie, sounds like something I will love"

Thanks so much, Tamar!! 💖


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