by Gillian Flynn
Published: 10th June 2010
Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.
Since then, she had been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?
She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.
Who did massacre the Day family?
Once I’d finished and loved Gone Girl from this author, I had the urge to read more of her work. I bought Dark Places and her debut novel, Sharp Objects. Unfortunately, they sat unloved on my bookcase for a year. Thanks to my project Kill My TBR, I’ve slowly been working through the books that need some love on my shelves and so I picked it up. I’d been struggling with a reading slump, and I felt it might be a nice change of pace from the contemporary YA that has dominated my reading this year.
I was hooked instantly, and my reading slump went out of the window. Dark Places is a mystery, thriller, horror novel that follows Libby Day – a survivor of a massacre that robbed her of her family. Her evidence put her older brother Ben behind bars, and 24 years later she is forced to confront the possibility that something else happened on the farm that night. My first thought was that the protagonist was quite insufferable. She’s an awful person: selfish, conceited, and cynical. Without a doubt, if you were in an accident she’d be stealing from you, and thinking you’re stealing her spotlight, instead of helping you. What I appreciated about reading this book is that I was still drawn to reading it, despite the character being so vile. It made for a nice change of pace.
The plot is completely thrilling. Gillian Flynn is a master of creating haunting, gut wrenching suspense and most of all mystery. In terms of plot twists and solving the mystery of the Day massacre, I loved that I was unable to suss out what was going on until the ending revealed what happened. It isn’t predictable at all. After a slower start, I found this to be a brilliant page turner that I didn’t want to put down. So much so, that I bought the e-book to read at work because I’d forgotten my paperback copy.
Dark Places has an interesting format, as the plot jumps back and forth from the past (January 2nd, 1985 – the day of the murders) to the present where Libby tries to find out the truth. What’s also fantastic about this book is that each chapter focusing on a different perspective: Libby’s, Ben’s and Patty’s – their mum’s perspective. Libby’s are the only chapters written in first person. The other perspectives are in third person, which for me as a reader felt like I was observing the going’s on along with Libby.
The nature of the plot is obviously quite dark, and incredibly moving. There were scenes that made me want to cry, and scenes that scared the living daylights out of me. I feel that I should mention that there were very violent moments towards animals and humans alike that made me feel very uncomfortable, and so I feel I should warn those that may be interested that it could be upsetting. For me, I felt the overall presentation and those moments made feel that way made this book a stand-out, as no moment felt unnecessary and just for shock value.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my funk. I’m very much looking forward to reading Sharp Object, Flynn’s debut novel, and also her new short story, The Grown-Up. It took me all over emotionally, I loved that this book kept me guessing, and drew me in. It’s a slow burner that ignited into a fantastic page turner. Also, Mum if you’re reading this – you need this book!
Highly recommend. A gripping, dark and thrilling story.