Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn


Rating: 4 / 5

Two and a half decades ago most of Libby Day’s family was brutally murdered.  It happened on a cold winter night, and while only seven year-old Libby survived, her older brother Ben Day was convicted of murdering their mother and two sisters.  The public consensus was that Ben was weird and into Devil worshiping.  In the present day, Libby is barely getting by.  She’s never had a real job, always having relied on the generous donations of the public, who took pity on her as a child.  However, with Libby now over 30, the public pity and fascination has pretty much dried up, and Libby has no steady income.  A true crime group has reached out to her, wanting to meet her and get her take on the events that happened that tragic night.  While Libby testified that Ben killed her mother and sisters, and is not eager to relive that night, she figures that there’s an opportunity with this group to make some money.

The one word that screams out at me when I think of Dark Places is ‘twisted’. From the first chapter, Libby Day is an incredibly interesting character.  She’s not likable, yet I couldn’t get enough of her.  She all but admits that she’s comfortable living the rest of her life making a quick buck off of what happened to her family; she’s never had a real job and is in no rush to have a job or even a career.  At the beginning, I absolutely hated her.  Even knowing what she went through as a child, I couldn’t get past her personality, her lack of initiative or responsibility.  However, as the story progressed, I realized that she isn’t half as bad as I originally thought.  Although the process is slow, it seemed that Libby realized that she couldn’t continue living off the pity of others, but that she needed to become a fully functional and employed adult.

Dark Places is narrated with multiple voices.  It alternates between Libby in the present, and Ben and their mother on that tragic day.  The multiple perspectives gives Dark Places depth, and allows the reader to see how the same events affected people differently.  It also helps advance the story since some of the information into why the events took place were not available or would have been next to impossible for Libby to discover on her own.  All the characters have flaws which impaired their ability to live a better life, and Dark Places showed the devastating effects of those flaws.

Dark Places is the third Gillian Flynn novel I’ve read, and I can honestly say that her niche is dark books with disturbing women.  Her characters are manipulative and deceiving, yet at the same time utterly fascinating.  I highly enjoyed Dark Places and recommend it, though I also recommend reading it on a day with plenty of free time since you’ll be hard pressed to put it down once you start.

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