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Book Review: Dark Places

Updated on December 21, 2013
Charlize Theron in "Dark Places"
Charlize Theron in "Dark Places" | Source

The Title's Origin

The title Dark Places clearly refers to the struggle of the protagonist's family prior to the massacre that occurred twenty five years in the past. These "dark places" include the fear of a teenage boy and a mother who is incapable of providing a good life for her children. The themes of this work are dark at its core. Its examination of the dark thoughts of average humans is tantamount to the reasoning behind this modern and simplistic title.

Synopsis of Dark Places

Dark Places chronicles the life and times of Libby Day. Libby Day has only been survived by her brother who has been rotting in jail for twenty-five years for the murder of their mother and sisters Debby and Michelle. Libby Day has survived solely on the charity and pity of strangers throughout the years. She grew up in a foster home after her aunt could no longer care for her. She had grown bitter after the whole ordeal. When a fanatic group of amateur investigators seek Libby out, she is not interested. However, in need of money, she allows the Kill Club to pay her to investigate the murders of her mother and sisters. It is the contention of the Kill Club that her brother Ben had not committed the acts he had been in jail for all this time.

Libby's memory of that night is foggy at best. She learns that her testimony was not honest and she was coaxed into testifying against her brother who was seen as a dark and disturbed young man. At age fifteen, Ben was the prime suspect in the murders, but Libby begins to see things a different way. With the help of Kill Club member, Lyle, Libby sets out on solving the mystery of the murders and absolve her brother of the crimes he never committed in the first place.

Dark Places is a wonderfully gritty and realistic take on a woman's journey to find peace over the death and murder of her family. Libby's narrative is fresh, eclectic, and one of the most fascinating narratives among those in the Mystery/Thriller genre.

Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn | Source

About Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn is a former television critic who worked for Entertainment Weekly. She is a native of Kansas City, Missouri but currently lives in Chicago. To date, Gillian Flynn has three published novels: Sharp Objects Gone Girl, and Dark Places.

Flynn graduated from the University of Kansas for her undergraduate and received her graduate degree at Northwestern Universtiy. She is the daughter of two college professors, who, ironically, taught English and Film.

She currently lives in Chicago with her husband and son. Gillian Flynn has been recently contracted by 20th Century Fox to write the screen adaptation of Dark Places for a price of $1.5 Million Dollars. The film is set to star Charlize Theron and be released sometime next year.

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of "Dark Places"

Review of Dark Places

-This review includes major plot points and events. Please ensure you're open to spoilers before reading this review-

Ben Day is not the killer. This is quite obvious considering the inciting incident of this wonderfully written mystery includes Libby Day learning of the possibility that her brother may be innocent. Libby Day is a disturbed individual who has lived a somewhat pathetic existence. She lives alone, no close friends or family. She nicks little things from restaurants and people she knows and she consistently exudes a deep and incomprehensible anger. A lot of damage has been done to Libby Day as a child. Her mother and two sisters were supposedly murdered by her brother, her father is a drunk, and her aunt has been hurt by her one too many times. Frankly, I can't relate to any of the things happening to Libby Day.

I can, however relate to her stubbornness to tell herself she's made a mistake she can't take back. The lawyers and all those adults fed her so many things to say when she testified. It was all her fault that her brother had been put in prison. And now, after twenty-five years, she seeks the truth. I was gripped by the dark narrative, revealing so many dark things about Libby Day's life and how so many people had felt so sorry for her all those years. It was shocking to learn of how she dared not become a true adult, not bearing the struggles that every other person might. She's still a little girl inside.

Though as we learn about those events leading up to the murders, we discover a whole darker story. We learn about how people can transform a small thing into a much bigger thing, how people will do anything once desperate, and how fear cripples all else. Ben, unfortunately, was at the whim of his fear. As a scared little boy, he was unable to defend his family, unable to stand up against his father, and ultimately, unable to be the brave man he had wanted to become. With Patty and Ben's narrative of the past, we learn of a dysfunctional family, of a family whose struggles were never-ending. It's crippling to learn of the struggle of farmers in the 1980s.

Gillian Flynn delivers a deep disturbing story about kids sacrificing animals to the devil, a mother willing to kill herself to escape her own existence, a father who is only for himself, and a protagonist who can barely keep it together. Dark Places was a fun read and sometimes had me looking over my shoulders and seeing shadows dancing in strange ways. I'm very excited to have read this work and I look forward to reading others of hers. Dark Places has a lot to offer readers and will leave them with the mouths agape and their conscience constantly contemplating the dastardly acts committed by all characters featured in this well-formulated work.


A film adaptation of Dark Places has been played and Charlize Theron has been slated to play adult Libby Day. The movie is set to premier on September 1, 2014. Other cast members include Nicholas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Christina Hendricks

No other news is known at this point.


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© 2013 A.E. Williams


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