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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places

by Gillian Flynn

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2,3341492,700 (3.85)172
Title:Dark Places
Authors:Gillian Flynn
Info:Phoenix, Paperback

Work details

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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English (140)  Dutch (5)  French (2)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (149)
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
After reading the talented Ms. Flynn's 'Sharp Objects' and 'Gone Girl' I wanted to read this novel also. I'm sorry I waited so long to read it and highly recommend it to anyone who likes dark murder mysteries.

The protagonist is Libby whose single mother and two older sisters were murdered in 1985 when she was only 7 years old. The novel switches between then in the third person with the mother and older brother, Ben (who is in prison for the murders), and now (25 years later) with Libby narrating.

The characters are very well-developed and most of the them are unlikable. As Libby tries to determine whether or not Ben actually committed the murders, you'll find yourself routing for her even though she is in a depressed and hopeless state due to the murders and her subsequent horrific upbringing by various relatives.

This is a real page-turner but be forewarned that there are grisly, devil-worshipping scenes along with poverty, drugs and teen sex. ( )
  pegmcdaniel | Sep 5, 2014 |
Six-word review: Aftermath of horrific crime never ends.

Extended review:

Be warned by the title: this novel is very dark indeed.

After reading all three of her novels published to date (this being the second and by far the darkest), I have to say that Gillian Flynn either knows, or imagines, or is some very, very strange women.

In this case the woman is the survivor of a murderous rampage that took the lives of her mother and two sisters. Only seven at the time, Libby Day escaped and later supplied court testimony that sent her older brother Ben to prison for the deed. Her life has been understandably overshadowed by the experience, but even at that Libby seems to be a profoundly warped individual. It is a tribute to the genius of the author that we can identify with her at all sympathetically.

Now in her thirties, Libby is forced to revisit the circumstances surrounding a soul-destroying event that has shaped her life and reexamine the validity of her own testimony.

Libby is also surrounded by characters who are in their own way as messed up as she, conferring on her an appearance of relative normality that is creepy in itself.

Even though the narrative stays within the realm of the real, meaning that there's no magic, no fantasy, no supernatural agents, nothing that would be impossible in the course of real-world cause and effect, Flynn's stories push the boundaries of the probable and the plausible pretty hard. It's the treading just barely within the constraints of consensual reality that gives them an eerie, shuddery quality that prickles the skin: that and a gripping style that reaches for the edges of words and grasps them by their sharp sides.

For a single example, here's the sort of line I love in Gillian Flynn's writing: "The frenetic, zigzag music started scribbling on Ben's brain" (page 272).

There's also a description of tripping, starting on page 274, that is so vivid that it makes me feel as if I were on something myself. I can't attest to the authenticity of it, but it sounds genuine to me.

On the other hand, Gillian, just to let you know: I wish I didn't keep running into lines like this: "Her lips were plump as labias" (page 305). Restated, Gillian, that would be "Her lips were as plump as lipses." We know what you mean, and we get the intended effect, but it still counts as a black mark. Labia is a plural already, the Latin plural of labium, and it means "lips." Authors can't do everything; but your editor, whose job it is to spare you embarrassment, should have caught this.

I awarded four stars to this work, not recommended for overly sensitive souls, but surely one of the most extraordinary explorations of family bonds and of coming to terms with personal history that I have seen in a while. ( )
  Meredy | Sep 2, 2014 |
Very dark, indeed. Libby Day is an unforgettable character. ( )
  rglossne | Aug 20, 2014 |
Great stuff, I enjoyed all the twists and interesting characters. Until close to the end of the story, I didn't have a clear idea of who the evil villain was... The one scene with the cattle led me to believe who really did the deed. Enjoyed this one a great deal. ( )
  Tina417 | Aug 19, 2014 |
Review Contains Major Spoilers

I have pretty mixed feelings on Flynn's worldview in general. I haven't read Sharp Objects, but I have read Gone Girl, and I see a few striking similarities in the way that the characters in each novel are drawn. In both Dark Places and Gone Girl, each of the characters is fundamentally incapable (and I would even venture to say disinterested) in any sort of connection with another human being. All of Libby's interactions are superficial and self-interested, and she even feels disdain/confusion toward Lyle in a few places for wanting to get to know her a little better or for considering her a friend. Both in Dark Places and in Gone Girl the characters value artifice and one-upsmanhip over authenticity or emotion. Flynn certainly knows how to craft a plot, but I just don't buy any of her characters and their motivations. Maybe I would be less fatigued by Flynn's characters if I hadn't read Gone Girl first, or if I had just read one of them, but taken together it seems that Flynn has a very specific worldview, and it's one that I'm not sold on.

I also think the ending fell a little short of the mystery and intrigue in the lead-up. The double murder thing was just a little too clever for me to swallow. I buy that Diondra would have killed Michelle, but Ben's inaction and lack of surprise really grated on me. Especially since he just let Diondra turn the murders into a Satanic scene. It felt weird that he didn't at least raise a token objection at any point in the process. I think I was hoping that Trey was more involved. He was pretty convincingly drawn as an asshole, and his presence at the murders would have been more plausible. It also would have been more plausible for the baby to have been Trey's, in my opinion, but that would have screwed up the ending with the whole Baby Day thing.

Overall, I did like Dark Places while I was reading it, but I don't think it's going to stick with me, and parts of it certainly felt like a let down. ( )
  junerain | Aug 7, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gillian Flynnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dean, RobertsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lowman, RebeccaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyytinen, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Days were a clan that mighta lived long, But Ben Day's head got screwed on wrong, That boy craved dark Satan's power, So he killed his family in one nasty hour, Little Michelle he strangled in the night, Then chopped up Debby: a bloody sight, Mother Patty he saved for last, Blew off her head with a shotgun blast, Baby Libby somehow survived, But to live through that ain't much a life --Schoolyard Rhyme, circa 1985
To my dashing husband, Brett Nolan
First words
I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.
Libby Day "I have meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Libby Day, still haunted by the day she witnessed the murder of her family on their farm in Kinnakee, Kansas, and twenty-five-years after testifying that her fifteen-year-old brother Ben was the killer, Libby is contacted by the Kill Club and devises a money making scheme that leads her back into a killer's path.
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After witnessing the murder of her mother and sisters, seven-year-old Libby Day testifies against her brother Ben, but twenty-five years later she tries to profit from her tragic history and admit that her story might not have been accurate.

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