Living the life of a woman who has never finished much of what she started, I felt a little let down by myself when I dove into Dark Places when I was smack dab in the middle of Hollow City. Blame Serial. The podcast consumed me and catapulted me into the need for true crime fixings and here I was, invested in this book only after 20 minutes of reading it. I’ll get back to Hollow City, I swear, but first, let me tell you how worth the distraction Dark Places is.
Libby Day is the survivor of a what was known to be the Kinnakee Kansas Massacre. At the age of nine, Libby testified to seeing her brother murder her mother and two older sisters. Debby, the middle sister, found outside the bedroom beside her mother in the hall, almost completely dismembered. Michelle, found strangled in her bed with claw marks over the walls beside her bed. Lastly, Peggy, the mother of the Days, found stabbed on the hallway floor with a shotgun blow taking off most of her skull. Shaking the small town with rumors of her brother being in a satanic cult and the massacre being apart of sacrifices to her mighty overlord. But was it?
Now, in her 30s, we meet little Libby as an almost bitter sort of woman who hasn’t exactly been able to move on in life since that terrible day. The story that unfolds is a woman who first begins doing things out of desperation begins to do such to find the truth about what she thought to be true all these years.
I will start by saying right now that Gillian Flynn is the most amazing writer. I read Gone Girl last summer and within a week, I was hungry for more and more and more of her stories. I wanted a shelf full of her books, and, well, because she only has four (or three?), my virtual shelf is pretty complete with her.
Characters aren’t typical or as they seem, they have a depth that involves thinking and a level of empathy. Libby is seen as being angry during her childhood, violent and destructive. She’s noted as going to therapist and hopping from home to home for a long time until she was on her own. Even then, she doesn’t know the world, she spent time depending on money given to her by those who sympathized with her and even some little change from a book she published about how she was healing after. But that was the issue, she never truly healed. She didn’t work, she didn’t buy toiletries and stole them from restaurants and offices. She didn’t heal because she never came to accept her true fate. Of course she was depressed but she also felt guilty and ashamed of herself.
It’s almost not often we have women portrayed as the hot mess. And I think since my binging of Jessica Jones and the true honesty of Jessica’s character, I appreciate the woman who doesn’t have it all together. Yeah, she has her own fucked up history and some other shit holding her back, but she’s a mess and it’s okay.
Reading Libby not being able to get out of bed because she didn’t feel like it or not being able to adult because she just didn’t care enough to know how, I can relate. Sure, my family wasn’t slaughtered before me but I am a hot mess and I like seeing that in women I’m reading about.
The story itself captures you. In the same fashion of Gone Girl it jumps from past to present, from one point of view to another, but it’s all coherent. It’s fluid and leaves you questioning after each chapter, making you wonder and wanting more. I love the way that, in true crime fashion, small details you forget about come back and show themselves to be super important. It’s a tale of whodunit and whatfor without missing a single beat. Also, how can I not forget the way her characters ooze with personality through the style of her writing:
There are few phrases that annoy me more than I won’t bite. The only line that pisses me off faster is when some drunk, ham-faced dude in a bar sees me trying to get past him and barks: Smile, it can’t be that bad! Yeah, actually, it can, jackwad.
If you like Southern Gothic, true crime, mysteries, and a saying “whuuuut” out loud a time or two, read Dark Places.
Also, small update. I’ve created a rather bookish, journaling, crafty type of Instagram. Which means I have two but for reasons like my child’s privacy and throwback photos that may embarrass me, I’ve made my personal one private. Anyways, if you’re into me (whassup) and interested at peeking into my bookshelf and notebook a time or three hundred with my rambly journal like captions, give bibliojade a follow!