book reviews

Book Review: Dark Places



Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Published: 2009
Publisher: Orion Publishing
Pages: 421
My Rating: 4.5/5


If you don’t know the name Gillian Flynn, you will certainly know her third novel, the best-selling ‘Gone Girl’. It raced to the top of the best-seller charts in 2012, and has since been made into a major motion picture. But love it or hate it, and I think there are two decided camps, you must not judge Flynn solely on Gone Girl.

Gillian Flynn is the master of dark, psychological thrillers, and as with her first novel, ‘Sharp Objects’, she again nails it with what was her second novel ‘Dark Places’.

Dark Places tells the story of Libby Day who at the age of seven, survived a terrifying family massacre that her then fifteen year old brother was convicted of. Now years later, a grown up Libby is questioning what happened that fateful night and if her brother really was capable of murdering their mother and two younger sisters.

Again, Flynn’s writing is something to be in awe of. I don’t often wish to write like other author as that mode of thinking is fruitless, but if I could write anywhere as brilliantly as Flynn, I’d be happy.

Flynn has an amazing way of weaving description all five-senses into each and every scene to create an atmosphere for her characters that is compelling. She is so adept at her craft, and so well developed are her characters, that it feels as if you are crawling right into the head-space of each one, seeing everything play out as they do. This type of writing, in this type of novel can be, and is confronting, if not chilling. But that is what makes her writing so brilliant.

Another thing Flynn nails in Dark Places is the pace. It builds slowly before punching you in the face, before she again pulls her foot off the accelerator. Then she repeats the process until the final powerful, forceful blow. Leaving the reader continually engaged and compelled in the story. It is everything a good thriller should be.

The subject matter in this novel, violence, particularly against the children, is hard to take. At one point, later in the novel where we relive the fatal scene, I had to put the book down. So if you are sensitive, it’s not the book for you. Having said that, it is testament to her skill to write with such a raw feel, and without holding back.

Dark Places isn’t the type of novel you say you ‘enjoyed’ after you finish. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but don’t let that take away of how talented Flynn is. She is truly a genius.

If you love dark, psychological thrillers that rip you open, spit you on the floor and stamp all over you, you’ll love this.


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