Hello, people of the internet!
I have officially read all of Gillian Flynn’s novels (all three of her current published works, of course) during this month of April! It has certainly been a great time reading her stories and being introduced to some very dark, evil characters. I can safely say this: if Gillian Flynn writes any more books, it is automatically on my TBR list.
But just because I say that, does it mean this book in particular is just as good as Gone Girl and Sharp Objects?
Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publication date: 10th June 2010
Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.
Since then, she has 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 has 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?
Dark places may not have had as many twists and shocks as Gone Girl, but it did have more than Sharp Objects. I had my suspicions of the truth and was only proved partially correct! The twist at the end was shocking and one I couldn’t see coming, but unfortunately was a borderline ‘last-minute’ twist. What I mean by this is there aren’t that many clues during the rest of the book that would help conclude this part of the major twist perfectly, so it felt a little like a last minute thought. Of course, there was a mention at the beginning which means this part of the twist didn’t completely feel like it came out of nowhere, but I had to go back to remind myself. I can’t shake the feeling that it did feel last minute to me. I would even go as far to say that some readers may even find it disappointing.
Before I discuss the best parts of Dark Places, I want to finish talking about the aspects I disliked. I’ll say this is a spoiler alert, but not a major one. There is a character called Lisette Stephens, who is missing and is later on found dead, having been so for months before she is found. Before her discovery, she is discussed by numerous other characters. She gets a quick summary about what has happened to her in the first chapter from Libby and is mentioned quite a few times later on. Libby even gives the reader her opinion of Lisette and some members of the group mentioned in the blurb are interested in this character.
And what does Lisette do in the overall plot? Nothing.
Her murder isn’t even solved. There is no point in Lisette being in this story. She adds nothing to the plot development or even to Libby’s character development (Libby dislikes Lisette at the beginning only because Libby is afraid Lisette will steal her popularity and, later on when Libby’s character improves, she simply mentions that Lisette was found and doesn’t describe how she feels about it). Lisette is completely wasted here. Maybe I missed something and her death could be connected to the mystery’s conclusion, but I did read back to find any links and couldn’t find any that even implied a connection. One could say that despite no mention, the reader can make the connect by themselves, but I’m not a huge fan of that. I’m sure other readers will disagree with me, but I wanted to point this out in my review because I really got annoyed since the rest of the book was brilliantly written and this bit stuck out to me as being a waste.
So, apart from Lisette Stephens and that one part of the twist I aforementioned, the rest of the book is wonderfully conceived and planned. Little details about the characters, even parts of their personalities that only seem to simply add to character development and description at the beginning, turn out to prove useful in the overall plot. I think that’s very clever.
Now, I really want to discuss the characters. Again, they are well written and feel like real people, but Libby’s character development is the best in Dark Places. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t like Libby at the beginning. Sure, she is struggling to deal with her past, but there are parts of her I couldn’t stand. As aforementioned, she only disliked Lisette because she might steal Libby’s popularity, but the only reason she even considers helping the group with questions is because she gets paid a lot of money for it. In fact, there is a section where Lyle, the leader of this group, talks to Libby about a character called Fanny Adams, an eight-year-old girl who was slaughtered in the 1800s. Libby was about to get jealous because she thinks she was supposed to be the focus of the group, not a murdered eight-year-old girl! She is also a thief. I understood that she was depressed, so the fact that she struggles to get out of bed or she feels she can’t work a regular job is understandable, but concerning the features I discussed more, I found it hard to like her character. However, she improves at the story grows and even interrogates people for free. I did begin to connect with her more and admired her determination and effort to try harder. She is a real person to me now and this is why her development is the best in this book.
The other characters were interesting too. The change in narratives and time periods were never confusing and successfully added to the plot’s development. Some narratives overlapped in time and it was intriguing to see how one character interprets one event and how another character interpreted it. It demonstrates the misunderstandings and tension between the characters and their relationships. It was very interesting to read!
In conclusion, despite some features I found to be a bit disappointing and unnecessary, I did like this book. I will give this 3.5 stars out of 5.
Thank you for reading!