Seven year old Libby Day is sole survivor of a horrible massacre. Her mother and two elder sisters were brutally killed in what was termed as ‘Kinnakee Farmhouse Satan Sacrifices’. Libby’s testimony helped to nail her fifteen year old brother Ben, who was believed to be a Satan worshiper, for the murders. Twenty Five years later Libby is forced to question everything that happened on that freezing winter night.
After Gone Girl, I simply had to go for everything penned by Gillian Flynn. I immediately started with Dark Places and oh boy… the book lives up to its title. Dark Places is dark, twisted, not just because of its plot but also because of its characters including protagonist Libby. I took an instant dislike for Libby in the beginning. She is pathetic, lethargic, depressed, does not mind living off others’ sympathies and is a kleptomaniac. Twenty five years after the murders, she is still living off charity funds donated by well meaning people. But the funds are dried up now and Libby is at her wit’s end.
Not inclined to do some serious work for living, Libby grasps at the only straw – Kill Club; a secret group obsessed with violent crime, that is willing to pay Libby to talk to people including her father to really know what happened. There are skeptics in the group who believe Ben is innocent and this forces Libby to visit the corner of her mind – ‘Dark Places’ as she names it, where she has locked the memories of that fateful night, conveniently believing that what she testified was really what must have happened.
Dark Places is brilliant, well paced and cleverly written book. It’s a roller coaster ride. Once again, the structure of the book contributes hugely to its success. Dark Places use multiple narratives. Libby tells the story in present and Ben and her mother Patty narrate the day of murder. The pendulum of suspicion keeps swinging as the story unfolds parallely. The twists and turns are shocking. I kept turning scenarios in my mind and yet had no idea where Flynn would lead me in the end.
What really make this book tick are its characters. It is impossible to feel sympathy for any of them, so messed up, mean and freaking they are. Libby is an unlikable protagonist throughout and yet I was secretly cheering her, enjoying her whiny and nasty side.
Well, Dark Places is unsettling; it churned something inside me, something creepy and frightening. I wanted to stop reading it many times and yet just could not do it. It’s rare that a novel is so emotionally wrenching and compelling at the same time. Definitely not for the faint hearted but highly, highly recommended.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.
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