What I learned from reading this book is how crucial it is to have a likable and relatable main character to take centre stage in any novel – because I spent the first sixty pages or so of this thriller, thinking I hate Libby Day. She’s not a horrible character, but she struck me as self-centred and lazy. Her family were slaughtered when she was just seven years old, by her fifteen year old brother, and as a result, she is depressed, job-less and completely living off the profits that the freak-murders made, actually anticipating the anniversary of their deaths, because she thinks it will bring in more donations for her.
I had quite high expectations of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, having read the remarkably-crafted best-seller Gone Girl last summer and loved every page. Dark Places is admittedly different. Although Gone Girl explores some pretty dark themes, as the title might suggest, Dark Places goes one better. What with thoughts of suicide, the ‘Kill Club’, a slaughtered family and a murderous brother, this book is quite unsettling and uninviting to some (and quite gruesome), but although it doesn’t start off on quite the right foot for me, it progresses to be a compelling and unique thriller that I would recommend to fans of these genres.
The narrative switches from Libby Day (in the present day) to members of her family, in the year 1985, the day that they were killed. Basically, Libby is invited by a strange club of people who are obsessed with studying unsolved murder cases – the ‘Kill Club’, and memories of that tragic day back in 1985 are re-evoked for her, and she plunges into the truth of what really happened. It is undeniably a compelling story, but for me, it didn’t strike me as anything amazingly special. The concepts in the story were quite unoriginal (but that’s just in my opinion), but Gillian Flynn writes remarkably well.
The characters came across as very real and vivid people and I did ‘warm’ to Libby a little, as the story went on and the reader learned about all that she had been through when she was a young and vulnerable child. Gillian Flynn describes the event of the murders very realistically, and it is quite gory which I didn’t really like!
It was a good book (maybe not the sort of thing that really appeals to me, however), but I know that it has been popular, as well as another thriller by Gillian Flynn: Sharp Objects which I might try and get hold of at some point. I would say that this book deserved about a 3.5 star rating out of 5.