Daisy Darker – Alice Feeney

Published By: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 352
Released On: 18/08/2022

After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in Nana’s crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. Finally back together one last time, when the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours.

The family arrives, each of them harbouring secrets. Then at the stroke of midnight, a storm rages, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows…

Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide comes in and all is revealed.

*****

Thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

I never understood why Joey Tribiani in Friends found The Shining so frightening he had to shut it in the freezer. But after reading this, I fully understand it. This is creepy and tense and terrifying and a real mystery.

As any good murder mystery does, the real culprit is so well concealed I could not work it out at all. I had my suspicions but I could never have guessed the real outcome, it was magnificent and shows how amazing Alice Feeney’s brain must be to figure this story out.

If I had to be picky, I would say that the first 10% or so was a little slow, but I do appreciate that you need to set the scene and introduce everyone and everything so you can invest in them, otherwise you won’t care when they start dying. But I tell you, once s**t starts hitting the fan, it goes everywhere.

It made me feel claustrophobic, my heart in my mouth, listening for every floorboard creak in my house, second guessing everyone else in the room – even the dog.

I am normally an early-to-bed woman (we’re talking 8-9pm) and an early riser, so I know how good a book is by whether I put it down to go to bed, but no matter how much this was getting under my skin, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t put it down until I finished it, which meant a late night for me.

The true outcome is so well hidden that I defy anyone to work it out prior to the reveal, it’s so shocking and surprising it knocked my socks off.

There’s a big cast of characters: Daisy, Ross, Lily, Trixie, Nancy, Frank, the Nana, Conor, Conor’s Dad, and the dog. That’s a lot of people to give enough time to but they’re all handled perfectly. You really quickly get an idea of who they are and gives you something to really get you teeth into. Even the house and it’s little island becomes a character of its own it is so well crafted.

Whilst not necessarily critical to the overall plot, I really loved the little quirks the Nan has, they just show her in a more intimate way, which makes her storyline even more shocking.

There’s a good balance of present day and flashbacks. It’s not jarring to follow, and it gives the reader a clear picture of each of our characters’ backgrounds and motives.

Even after writing this, I don’t think I’ve quite got the right words to really show how thrilling this book is, it’s definitely one you need to read for yourself. It reminds me of the mysteries of old, like Agatha Christie’s, which proves you can do thriller and horror and mystery without throwing explicit violence and gore into everyone’s face; it’s more of a quiet, careful evil.

A first-class thriller.

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