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Title: Daisy Darker
Author: Alice Feeney
Published: 30th of August 2022 — MacMillan
Format: Hardback — 336 pages
Hello Hello! How are you?
Today I’m so excited to be bringing you my review for Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney, a book I read this month with some buddies from TWR, and a book that surprised and enthralled me throughout.
I haven’t written a proper unsolicited review on my blog for ages, but in 2023 I decided to be better at reviewing books I read, and I’m actually able to keep track of my thoughts and quotes in this great reading journal I bought from Etsy!
Now without further ado, let’s get into my thoughts about Daisy Darker!
Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see . . .
Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .
Trigger warnings: drinking and alcohol abuse, talk about an alcoholic going into rehab, abuse because of drink, violence, murder, death, gore, guns, poison, bullying, heart condition, dangerous family secrets, sexual content.
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney is an adult thriller/mystery that I had been wanting to read ever since it was published, and I’m so glad I got to pick it up with my TWR reading buddies. As soon as I read that blurb, I knew I was going to love it, and I was so gripped the whole way and just could NOT believe that ending. I’ve seen a few people rate it down because of the ending, however, I think it was fantastic and enjoyed it immensely. Here is why…
“I was born with a broken heart.”
This book is set at Seaglass, a house perched on a small island on the Cornish coast, and Daisy Darker’s grandmother’s house. This is definitely similar to what I have heard about And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (I haven’t read it yet, but soon!!), and similar to a French adaptation called Dix by Marine Carteron that I really enjoyed last year.
I loved the setting of this book because it was so eerie, but at the same time felt like such a cosy family house I would want to live in! Although not in a storm… it sounded like a truly terrifying place when the waves were crashing against the outside walls of the house and the wind was howling. And it is also the place in which a lot of bad things happened to the Darker family, mainly to Daisy Darker, our main character. So it is a really good setting, both a happy and very sad place but I thought it was a great sort of character in itself as it felt living at times.
Daisy Darker: Daisy Darker is the main character of this book and also its title. I liked Daisy right from the start, also suspected her for a while, and just felt so sad for her for most of the book. She was born with a heart condition and died multiple times in her life already because of her heart stopping, but she managed to survive every time. However, having this condition meant she was never allowed to do anything, go anywhere, or really have ambitions because she was too “delicate”. Her family literally treater her so badly, and her sisters the worst. I felt so sorry for her, but also felt like I could identify with her, she is definitely a bookworm and prefers being at home in front of the fire. Reading this book from her perspective was so intriguing, you’ll find out why if you pick it up yourself!
Beatrice Darker (a.k.a. Nana): Nana was the second character I really liked — because the others were too awful to appreciate lol! I thought she was such an eccentric and cute little old lady, but also determined and very much the boss of the whole family. I really can’t say much about each character, but I never expected where the story went in terms of this character, but it was intriguing to go back into the Darker past through the home movies they saw throughout this book, it definitely gives insight into what happened later in the book.
Rose and Lily Darker: These are Daisy’s older sisters, and all named after flowers because their mother Nancy is obsessed with plants and flowers. I did NOT like these two characters, I especially hated Lily. She was such a stuck up, presumptuous and mean character and I just wanted to shake her multiple times. Rose was a little more difficult to hate because at times good things did shine through, and I did start liking her, and then I didn’t, and then I did… I basically suspected everyone at some point, a part from one character (I won’t say who) and I just didn’t see where the ending went!!
Nancy and Frank Darker: These two characters are the girls parents and honestly some of the worst parent characters I’ve read about in books. I thought the father was such a bastard (excuse my French) for abandoning Daisy so many times because of her “broken heart”, and the mother… don’t even get me started. What an awful, contrived, egotistical character. I don’t think she cared for or anyone but herself, but these two were both interesting in the grand scheme of the plot.
Trixie Darker: Trixie is Lily’s teenage daughter and she was such a cute and bookish character. Her mother is awful, but Trixie isn’t and I think that’s why I really enjoyed reading about her, especially because I feel like she and Daisy had a good relationship as they were both kind of outcasts in their family.
Connor Kennedy: Connor isn’t actually part of the family, but because part of it once the Darker girls sort of fell in love with him and wanted to help him and get him out of the toxic and abusive household he lived in after the death of his mother and his father started drinking. He seemed like a really accomplished crime reporter for the BBC, and I thought it was very interesting to have an outsider be part of this story, because he was basically more family than Daisy ever was, which made me angry, but you’ll just have to read it to find out all about him and his relationships with the girls.
I can’t say more about the characters because it’s honestly so twisty and unexpected and a lot of them are morally grey and unreliable. But I thought they all made the story so intriguing, twisty and dark and I think the author did a really great job of portraying such flawed and suffering characters. At one point in the story they all lied, and some ulterior motives and secrets were revealed as the story went on, that I really didn’t expect… I still have my two favourite characters, and I still hate the characters I did at the start, but the story and the relationships were all so complex and intertwined that it’s just impossible to say anything else otherwise I’ll reveal major spoilers.
Family secrets and lies: This is actually a theme I really don’t like in thrillers, and the main reason why I always prefer mysteries and nearly never pick up a thriller. I don’t like all the infidelity and the secrets and toxic relationships between couples, revealing the father of a child years after their birth, or sibling rivalry… all that happened in this book and more but I LOVED it. It really surprised me how sucked into these characters lives I was, and it only spans one night, but there are lots of flashbacks into the past that slowly reveal what happened and why and how, it was so good. So I definitely applaud Alice Feeney for making me like these themes, as I hated them before, but actually really enjoyed reading about them in this book.
Illness/a fatal condition: I thought it was interesting that the author used a chronic/fatal illness/condition to be the reason why Daisy was an outcast in this family, but I think that even before that was found out, she already was doomed to be the odd one out. She was born into an already flawed and messed up family, and through no fault of her own basically became the pariah because of her illness. She has a really rare heart condition, and I liked how the author used this as a metaphor for a broken heart both physically and symbolically. Even though it was a dark and messed up book, I personally feel like this was still done sensitively.
Creepy events: If you know me, you know I love good atmosphere in a book, and that sometimes comes from spooky or creepy events. Now this wasn’t a “bump in the night”, “omg someone is in the house” kind of spooky but so much more subtle. There are lots of word games in the writing style to start with and I feel like the flow and style already makes the book very atmospheric. The author really has a way with words and uses this talent in the poems and rhymes that can be found throughout this story. The main one is also featured as the first line of the blurb (although its a lot longer and spookier in full) and there are lots more that really made my skin crawl and my blood run cold. You definitely get the feeling that something sinister is happening and that it is an outside force that is the reason for everything happening. As such a word nerd, I really enjoyed the rhymes and the poems, they worked so well in the overall plot and helped everything come together.
Murder and revenge: A good thriller/mystery would be nothing without a murder… or 7…! There is lots of murder and death in this book, and sometimes in gory and shocking ways, but I thought that it made it so much more suspenseful because I kept thinking “omg which one is next??”. Very much in the vein of And Then There Were None as I mentioned above but also much more complex and you really do have to read it to get what I mean. I think the underlying theme in this story is revenge, but you won’t know why, what, where, how, when, etc etc until you read it, so please do!
Morally grey and unreliable characters: I think that in most mysteries and thrillers there are bound to be a few morally grey and unreliable characters, but in this book I thought they were all morally grey and unreliable, and I LOVED IT! They were so well written, they were flawed and complex and I just kept suspecting one after another. This reminded me a lot of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart because you literally don’t know who to trust, not even the narrator, but let me reassure you that it’s a lot more complicated and twisty than you may think reading this review.
Such great twists and turns! I really love a twisty and atmospheric book and this one nearly gave me whiplash. I turned around to my fiancé with my mouth hanging open so many times it must have been comic but I was honestly shocked so much while reading this book. The author did a great job of keeping me engaged and interested throughout, I just wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next and get the full reveal at the end — which was soooooo good by the way!
“Don’t waste your life wishing to be like someone else, decide who you are and be you.”
FINAL THOUGHTS AND RATING
As you can probably tell from this long review, I honestly enjoyed this book immensely and was so satisfied that it turned out to be such a good book because I had very big expectations. It exceeded my expectations and I just had such a great time reading it.
I would say that this book is both character driven and plot driven because everything is so complex. There is such an evolution in what you think or suspect of the various characters and it’s just not a clean cut story at all. I loved seeing the plot unfold and take drastic twists and turns and I also really enjoyed reading about the characters, their lies, their secrets and the ultimate reveal at the end which I really did not see coming.
I absolutely loved the first line “I was born with a broken heart,” and from then I knew I was going to love it. The writing style flowed so well, it was atmospheric, it was beautiful, it was haunting, it was honestly one of the best I’ve ever read and I’m definitely going to read more by this author. It’s just the kind of book and writing style that you can get lost in, even though it’s about horrific events and the author doesn’t shy away from gore or shocking moments, but it was so well executed!! I thought it was also really suspenseful. I kept saying to myself “Just one more chapter” — HA! I kept turning the pages and this one was over in such o short time because I literally couldn’t stop reading, it was so immersive and I was hooked from start to finish. I really look for great atmosphere in books and this had it. It was spooky and creepy without being scary, I gasped in shock many times, I looked around to my fiancé with my jaw on the floor a lot, and it was just so good. Honestly, round of applause to the author for writing such a fantastic story.
I gave Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney 5 stars and I loved it from start to end. There were so many elements to this book that I adored but all together they made a fabulous adult mystery/thriller that shocked and engaged me for the whole time I was reading it. It’s the kind of book I now wish I could read for the first time again, it was that good and I’m so glad it was my first 5-star novel of the year, because it deserves all the stars in my opinion.
If you love dark family secrets, a twisty plot and a stunning writing style that will give you all the atmosphere and all the chills, then this book is definitely for you. I highly recommend it!
“But if I do know more than most, it’s because I read. Books will teach you anything you want to know, and they tend to be more honest than people.”
Atmosphere – 9
Start – 8.5
Pacing – 9
Ending – 9.5
Characters – 7.5
Theme – 7
Style – 9
Total = 59.5
That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed reading this post and I hope you’ll want to pick up this book and give it a try yourself now you’ve read my thoughts!
See you soon, stay safe,