Daisy Darker was born with a broken heart. Now after years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in her crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. When the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours.
But at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows…
Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide goes out and all is revealed. As seen on the TODAY show and picked by Book of the Month, Daisy Darker’s family secrets and Alice Feeney’s trademark shocking twists will keep readers riveted.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney is the dark and creepy story of Daisy Darker’s life and the events surrounding her grandmother’s 80th birthday. This locked-room mystery kept me guessing until all was revealed.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
When the author is Alice Feeney, I just accept that my only initial expectation can be to expect a lot of shocking twists and turns. The cover gives off a dark and creepy feel backed up by the blurb. The blurb also talks about how the book is a wicked wink to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, which I like the sound of.
Actual Reading Experience:
Like ALL of Alice Feeney’s stories, you won’t want me to say too much in this section because half the fun is the surprises that will be around every corner – and since it’s set in an old mansion, there are lots of corners.
At first, the story really felt like a gothic tale. It started out dark, and a bit pondering, like the darkness was so thick the narration had trouble breaking through it. The writing is so good, and the descriptions are so visceral that you feel the oppressive nature of the island as if you were there. I love Feeney’s writing style; she tells the reader so much while only using a few words. I enjoy a focused story, and this one is just that. Even though it sometimes feels like it may be meandering back in time, you soon realize it’s not wandering. Every word, paragraph, and page have a reason and a point.
Once the murders start happening, though, the pace picks up as my need to know who is killing off the family members one by one mounts. There are so many red herrings I honestly suspected each person until they turned up dead. As with Feeney’s other novels, just when you feel like the shocking twists are over, a few more are thrown in for good measure, so I left the book having to pick my jaw up off the floor. I did not see the big twist coming in advance, but I saw a few others. That was okay, though, because there were plenty more twists for my enjoyment.
Daisy Darker is the main character and narrator. She is a lonely young woman who feels rejected by her family and spends her time volunteering at a senior citizens’ home. She feels closest to her niece Trixie and her grandmother, so she had to be at Seaglass for the birthday celebration.
Frank and Nancy Darker are Daisy’s parents. They have been divorced for many years because of Frank’s inability to stay committed to his marriage. Frank is an orchestra conductor, and Nancy is a wannabe actress. Both come off as self-centered and unlikeable.
Rose and Lily Darker are Daisy’s older sisters. They are both beautiful and intelligent but have many dark secrets. Rose is a veterinarian, and Lily does not work. Instead, she and her daughter Trixie are supported by her mother.
Trixie (Beatrice) Darker is the niece and bright shining star of the Darker family. She is sweet and giving, though a bit immature, as she is still only a teenager.
Narration & Pacing:
The story is told using first-person narration through the main character, Daisy Darker. She tells a woeful tale of what it’s like to grow up in a family that treats her differently because she was born with a broken heart. The pacing can be a bit slow in the past timeline but speeds up in the present timeline. As the body count builds, so do the tension and pace.
I loved the setting! For all intents and purposes, the location, Seaglass, IS the story, and the characters are just the support players. It has a gothic feel which I loved for a “locked-room” mystery, as it is very dark and creepy and just lends itself to a tension-filled story. Nana’s house is situated on a tidal island, so there is no getting off or on it as the tide rolls in and until the tide rolls out.
What It Reminds Me Of:
The blurb mentions Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None which I would agree with, but of course, Feeney gives it her own very dark twist.
To Read or Not to Read:
Daisy Darker is a must-read if you love dark and creepy locked-room mysteries with a psychological thriller twist!
Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
- Originality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Writing Quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Pace: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Character Development: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- ‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Use of Setting: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐