Dark Places. Gillian Flynn
This book was written before the fame of “Gone girl”. It is her second book published in 2009. For people who have enjoyed “Gone girl” it is worth looking at some of her earlier work, although I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as “Gone girl”.
It is a rather different book, certainly has the same plot twists and turns and does keep you second guessing but I found it perhaps more dark and gruesome and in the end perhaps not as well crafted. The mother’s role in the final chapters was rather disturbing.
The main character is Libby Day, who in the start of the novel is a 7 year old girl who witnesses the murder of her mother and her two older sisters at their farmhouse. Her 15 year old brother Ben is convicted of the murders as a result of her evidence.
The chapters alternate between the past and Libby today, she is 31 and still living off the proceeds of her fame. She is not in a good place, mentally and physically and is fast running out of money. The opening lines in chapter one do grab your attention and tell you just what sort of a person she is, or what she thinks of herself.
“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you can stomp on it. It’s the Day blood. Something’s wrong with it.”
She is contacted by a group of people who are convinced her brother is innocent and as she is in need of money, for a fee, she agrees to visit her brother in jail and perhaps search for the truth. This is the story of what she discovers, some of it is rather unpleasant and perhaps just a bit too far-fetched.
The physical descriptions of the landscape and the run down farm are skilfully drawn, very realistic and set the tone well for this tale of woe, was there any other way but down for this family to go. The end does leave you with a feeling of hope for Libby and Ben, her brother. Libby even evolves from a rather unpleasant person into someone more sociable.
I was rather intrigued that I had just read two books where the main character, a young girl, is seriously troubled and not at all likeable. Then at the end they both grow into someone with some redeeming qualities, young women you can empathise with. The other intriguing element in both books is that they both use the same alternating chapters, to describe events in the past and present. This other book is “All the birds singing” by Evie Wyld which I reviewed earlier in the week. They are both very different books, if you have read both, which did you enjoy and which character did you find more engaging?
I think my vote goes for Jake and “All the birds singing” !