Sunday, 27 October 2013

Book of the Week: Dark Places

"The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty - we all have it."

First of all, let me start by apologising, once again, for the distinct lack of posts over the past few weeks. It's been a pretty manic month for me, as I got myself a cheeky internship (finally!) which, along with my regular job, has pretty much wiped me out. I also took my driving theory test last week, so I dedicated the little spare time I had to revision for that. But now that that's all out of the way, and I'm feeling a little more settled and a little less wired, I'm going to try my best to get back into my routine with regards to blogging (wish me luck!) starting with this here book of the week.

A while back, I wrote a post on Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, in which I mentioned that I also enjoyed one of her earlier novels, Dark Places, so that will be the subject of today's ramblings. 

Dark Places focuses on Libby Day, whose family was massacred by her brother, Ben, when she was just seven years old. Years on, she is presented with evidence which causes her to doubt everything that she once believed, and she forces herself to consider the fact that maybe her brother wasn't the murderer, and maybe she helped to put the wrong person behind bars. 

The story is told from three perspectives; present day Libby, as well as Patty, Libby's mother, and Ben's accounts of the months leading up to the murders. I really like the way that this was executed, with all of the clues unfolding for Libby as we find out more and more about the Day family and the circumstances which led to the incident. I did find potential murderer, Ben's storyline a bit too odd for my taste, all devil worship and animal slaughter, making him my least favourite character, but it's obviously all necessary for the narrative. I thought Patty's view, however, was a really nice touch - it's really interesting to read her opinions on her children, including her worries about Ben, who she thinks is going through a rather troubled phase (more troubled than she realises). I love how the chapters all work together, and the accounts, both past and present, slot together like puzzle pieces. It's not until the very last chapter that the whole story falls into place, keeping you guessing until the final page. 

I also really like how gritty the whole tale is. Even more so than Gone Girl, everything is really morbid, and there's not really any happiness to it whatsoever. The family live on a run down farm and can barely afford to support themselves, so Patty's accounts are shot through with money woes and her upset at her shoddy mothering skills. Ben's are filled with resentment at the life he is forced to live, working on a farm with no prospects, with no father figure, surrounded by a family of young girls he finds irritating. Additionally, contemporary Libby leads a bitter life, which, in lieu of her horrible childhood, is understandable, but it doesn't really make for an uplifting read. It's not a quality that I'm usually a fan of, feel good reads being my first port of call, but for some reason, I find it a really enjoyable quality in Flynn's writing. 

As I said before, Flynn keeps you on tenterhooks until the closing paragraphs, and I found myself jumping back and forth with my opinion on Ben's guilt until I could hardly stand it any more. Now, the majority of the book, I didn't love as much as Gone Girl, but Flynn is definitely a gem when it comes to shock endings, and I much prefer this one. It's not that it's more unexpected, both are pretty gasp inducing, but I feel that there is more of a sense of closure to this one than to Flynn's more famous tome.

Speaking of closure, that's really all I have to say about this suspense laden thriller. If you've read it too, please do tell, as I'd love to know what your views are! Are you a fan of Gillian Flynn? Do you prefer this story or Gone Girl? Let me know!


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  1. I've never read Dark Places but I quite like Gillian Flynn. She has such an interesting writing style. I will definitely be checking this out :]

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

  2. I've just started reading Gone Girl, and am already intrigued for this too!

    Nell @ And Nell Writes