Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books
Rating: Four Stars
"Dark Places" is a story that will stay with you long after the read, a troubled contemplation that when reflected upon later, you will end up asking yourself why your reality has just tilted slightly off kilter.
Gillian Flynn has taken the reader to desperate depths as she paints the tale of slovenly Libby Day, whose survival of a brutal farm massacre at age seven has tainted every day of her adult life. With her brother behind bars for nearly 24 years now, convicted of the murders, and the money running out, Libby is offered the opportunity from an unlikely source to sift through the ruins of her life, and probe the memories, the dark places, to find out who was really behind the massacre.
But such growth does not come easily, and truth does not come without a cost, and somewhere out there a murderer(s) is still running around free.
The mediocre, even the mundane everyday tasks for Libby seem almost insurmountable obstacles. Uncovering the truth will certainly be treacherous for her. She is a protagonist filled with bile that has been steeping her innards since the moment she ran stumbling out in the snow from the bloody house. Flynn's unvarnished character portrayal of the Day Family in the time leading up to the massacre, and through Libby's recollections is excruciatingly humble, and painful.
It is a tale that exposes the vein of a poverty-stricken family hunkered down against the world. An air of malevolence surrounding them, like a storm ready to break. And then at times the rare glimpse into the soul: the mother Patty who is single-handedly trying to keep the family together and fed despite imminent foreclosure. A mother who will end up paying the ultimate price to save her family. Ben, the son who's spiraling down a sinister path from which there is no escape. Runner, the mean-spirited dead-beat dad who harasses the family. These are just a few of Flynn's crowning character achievements.
All of these personalities and situations are a recipe for malignancy at their Kinnakee farm. Flynn is ruthless, and ferocious in her descriptions, as she is honest. Libby Day is not anyone's idea of a heroine, but she's persevering. Flynn places the reader on the same level as Day. The awkward journey of self-discovery is taken hand-in-hand. Just as easily as Libby slips the remnants of other peoples lives in her roomy kleptomaniac pockets, so do we. Perhaps someday too, we too can dig in those boxes under the stairs, expose the skeletons and stare them down without fear. Purge those dark places as well as Libby has compellingly done.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review