Daisy Darker was born with a heart condition and has never really felt at home in the Darker family. When her Nana’s 80th birthday comes up, the entire family is invited to Seaglass, their family home on a Cornish island.
Soon after everyone has arrived, Nana is found dead. This marks the unravelling of a series of mysteries surrounding the dysfunctional Darker family.
Daisy Darker was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022.
Just from the premise, I knew it had a lot going for it – a framework inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, an isolated island, a family that doesn’t get along. What’s not to like about that premise?
The writing is crisp and punctuated by foreshadowing. I love the way Alice Feeney narrates a story; there’s always so much substance to it that you’re never going to feel bored.
I’ve come to admire her writing style after having read and really enjoyed Rock Paper Scissors.
Since this book is written from Daisy’s POV, we get into the mindset of a protagonist who has felt lonely and estranged most of her life. She keeps hinting at some incident that happened in her childhood; it tugs at your curiosity further.
Initially, each chapter covers consecutive hours at Seaglass. As the story progresses and more developments are revealed to us, the time gaps between chapters also lessen.
I like that the entire book is primarily set over two days (around Halloween time!) with a few flashback chapters thrown in.
While the pacing and build-up in Rock Paper Scissors literally had me at the edge of my seat, the writing in Daisy Darker is not as thrilling per se and didn’t elicit that sense of apprehension (at least from me).
I love that there are poems and altered versions of a children’s lullaby that lend the novel a dark tone. Some of the themes explored are absent/ negligent parenting, child abuse, health concerns, trauma, and dysfunctional family.
Most of Feeney’s lead characters come across as complex people with secrets. The same is true in Daisy Darker too.
But one thing I noticed, and I don’t know if it was intentional or not, is that several characters in this book have a duality which makes it difficult to believe them. I wasn’t a fan of that aspect because it felt like almost everyone was superficial in some way.
Especially Lily and Rose (Daisy’s sisters) – they would say and do things that don’t align.
Nana’s character presents a fun, eccentricity that I liked for the most part. You wouldn’t be able to tell just from her appearance what goes on in her mind.
I had my own theories about the mystery and I was right about one angle of it. Despite having guessed it, I still enjoyed reading the book largely because of the author’s writing.
There are twists and turns at the end. In fact, in the span of the last 1-2 chapters, there are multiple jaw-dropping moments.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this mystery novel; there are just a couple of factors as to why I didn’t rate it 5 stars. If you’re new to Alice Feeney’s works, I’d recommend reading Rock Paper Scissors first and then this one.
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