It’s October and that means there’s a definite chill in the air. Daisy Darker is the perfect book to curl up with on these days, which are short, cold, and often rainy. But when you do, make sure you keep the lights on.
A delicious mix between Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and the hit movie Knives Out, Alice Fenney’s latest thriller is perfect for Fall and spooky season. It hits all the notes of creepy, thrilling, mystifying, and of course, page-turning.
The book opens with a scene that is similar to Knives Out. It is Nana’s 80th birthday on the eve of Halloween and she’s invited the whole family to Seaglass, her old Victorian home set on an island, to celebrate. Daisy is the first to arrive, and before long the rest of the family joins her. Once the last family member crosses the causeway to the island, the tide comes in and the family is locked on the island for eight hours. The family aren’t just celebrating Nana’s birthday, but are also finding out about the contents of Nana’s will, which obviously has a few nasty surprises.
Seaglass is almost a character itself. Daisy describes her childhood summer home in vivid detail, as it has been decorated by Nana quite eccentrically over the years. First there are the eighty clocks that hang in the entrance; one is added every year on Nana’s birthday. There is the old-fashioned time puncher; when each family member arrives, they must punch in and out. And then there are the rooms themselves, connected by doors, almost like a giant Clue board, with names like the Music Room, the Library, etc.
After the clock strikes midnight, one by one the family members start dying at every hour. Nana is the first to go. The horror brings a poem written on the chalkboard wall; before each family member dies, their name is crossed out, giving a clue as to who’s next.
The story was slow to start, but once it got going, I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out who the murderer was and how the bodies were disappearing after they had been murdered. Feeney creates a set of characters that are both intriguing and despicable. Each and every one was selfish with a trunk of secrets that gave them the perfect motive. I don’t think I was sad about any of them dying (except maybe Nana).
The story is interspersed with memories from Daisy’s childhood in the 80s and how her relationship with her sisters fractured. Each time someone is killed, an old VHS materializes with the words WATCH ME, NOTICE ME, HEAR ME, etc. on them. When the family watches, they see how poorly they treated Daisy throughout her childhood, a girl who was born with a heart defect.
The end was bone-chilling and horrifying, as we catch up with the past to see how this family became so broken over the years. The murderer takes you by surprise, but that’s not the only twist that Feeney has up her sleeve. I had trouble sleeping after.
Dark and twisted, Daisy Darker is perfect for anyone who’s craving a thriller that will have you guessing right till the last page.
Photo credit: bbc.com