Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: Daddy Darkest (By Ellery A. Kane)

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

Length: 358 pages

My rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars

Small-town girl, Samantha ‘Sam’ Bronwyn heads from Texas to San Francisco with her best friend, Ginny, on an after-graduation trip. But Ginny disappears from the airport bathroom while wearing Sam’s letterman jacket. Suddenly, the guy who had been sitting next to her on the plane, and who had managed to carry a gun onboard, is her only ally. But she knows nothing about him or even whether she can trust him.

A dangerous serial killer escapes from San Quentin and is on the loose in San Francisco.

Spanish speaking, vicious looking men attack Sam’s hotel, the guns in their hands and tattoos on their body telling her that they’re affiliated with a notorious gang.

The FBI agent looking into the disappearance of Ginny’s case seems to know Sam’s mother.

And Sam’s mother, Clare Bronwyn, seems to be a whole other person – someone who knows too much about the events unfolding around Sam, someone who has too many secrets, and someone who Sam can barely recognize.

Sam does not know whom to trust. And every step that she takes pulls her deeper into a web of lies. Soon, Sam discovers that her life, and identity, isn’t what she believed them to be. And she may not live long enough to discover who she really is.

The Bottom Line:

A terrible waste of time, Daddy Darkest is a story that does not (even remotely) do justice to the psychological thriller claim and is actually painful to read at most parts.

My review:

A big ‘Thank you’ to NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (‘honest’ being the key word here).

Daddy Darkest begins with a lot of promise. It starts with Samantha and Ginny traveling to San Francisco, Ginny’s disappearance, and a shifty but somewhat-trustable man coming to help Samantha. All intriguing factors, and all with great promise.

Then, it goes back to the past, to the story of Clare Keely, which (as it’s painfully obvious in the first three sentences) is the story of Samantha’s mother. It’s about two chapters into the past when everything gets really bad.

At the outset, I should probably state that I don’t really have a problem with characters who are anti-heroes or anti-heroines. No one is categorically black or white. And gray makes books and characters interesting. I think ‘gray’ was what Ellery Kane was aiming for with Clare (Bronwyn) Keely. What she ended up with, instead, is a very whiny, annoying, selfish, bratty b***h of a main character.

Sure, Clare has a past – one that’s not too nice either. It messes her up a bit. But that is really not enough of a foundation to become the person she does. In fact, most of her personality traits were highly conflicting with one another. And much more than the ‘this is who I need to be, but this is who I really am’ conflict that complex characters have. Plus, who she needs to be and who she is are both really annoying. To put it down in some discernable order, this is what she’s like:

Oh! I’m so pretty, it’s such a curse. Oh! I’m so pretty, every man lusts after me. Oh! I wish they wouldn’t. Oh! I need some information from this guy, let me just flirt with him and sleep with him and he’ll tell me. Oh! I wish he wouldn’t touch me. Oh! Come, let’s jump into bed together again so I can get you to do what I want. Oh! I wish every man didn’t lust after me, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Oh! I’m so bad. And I love it. No, I hate it. Oh! I’m such a good girl, why don’t people just let me be? Oh! My beauty is my curse. Oh! My beauty is my power. No, curse. No, power. And so on and so forth. Until Clare Keely whined about everything she didn’t like, and everything she liked too.

There are characters who are tainted but who you call still sympathize with – but Clare Keely is not such a character. She’s just annoying, and there is a point where you just want her to shut up.

And Samantha isn’t the brightest bulb either. Likable at first, you can sympathize with her for a bit. Until Kane seems to absolutely lose the shape of the character and Samantha melts into some kind of mix of her old self and her mother.

As the book proceeds, all characters other than Clare sort of slip away from the limelight and become secondary, to the point that the book doesn’t even wrap up their story cleanly. The story actually had the potential to be multi-arced, but all of it is pushed to the sidelines while Clare Keely rambles on and on, until you just don’t care about any of those promising angles.

That, unfortunately, is how this book makes you feel – uninterested. I actually found myself physically straining to push ahead instead of just giving up (a lot of people gave up, so I know I wasn’t alone in this struggle). Then I reached a point where I started fast-reading a lot of the book to remain informed of the points that mattered (skimming over the whining and lamenting, which made up for a surprisingly large amount of the book throughout). I did this in the hope that the book somehow redeemed itself. Short answer? It does not, in any way. I actually think it just gets worse as it goes on.

So all in all, this book has no redeeming factors. There’s nothing dark or psychologically thrilling about it. The story isn’t really twisted like the blurb states. And the only thing criminal in it, is Clare Keely’s character.

I would recommend this book to:

  • No one.
  • Seriously. Pick up any other book. Literally, any!

I’m sure there are people who disagree with my view on Daddy Darkest. Drop me a comment or two below to say why. And, of course, say why if you agree too!

Thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

 

Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: Hush (By Anne Frasier)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 380 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Ivy Dunlap had been waiting for the call for sixteen years – the call that would tell her that he’s resurfaced. She had no doubt that he would. The man who had murdered her son and left her for dead wouldn’t stay in the dark forever – he was compelled to kill. As a criminal psychologist, Ivy knew that.

And when the call did come, Ivy knew that she had no choice. She couldn’t continue living the life that was a lie, the life where she was safe, but where no one knew who she really was. So, she went back to help the Chicago PD apprehend the man who had been murdering single mothers and their infant sons. But going back was not going to be easy. Keeping her real identity a secret was not going to be easy. Chasing the man who’d haunted her waking and sleeping hours for sixteen years may come at a price that even Ivy could never have anticipated. And all the while, a single question remains – will the Madonna Murderer succeed where he’d once failed?

My take:

There are a lot of things you expect from a psychological/crime thriller. And for the most part, Hush delivers. It’s got a good story that shows you the evil that can exist within people. It’s blunt, sometimes gory, the right amount of mess-with-your-head disturbing, and its criminal psychology seems to be pretty spot on (speaking from the perspective of someone whose criminal psychology course was basically watching Criminal Minds). It’s even got some interesting characters who seem to do justice (for the most part) to what you would expect, given their backgrounds.

But the execution of all those aspects is what kills a lot of the experience.

And the grammar and formatting errors. I mean, it can’t be that difficult to ensure that if you’re moving from one scene to another altogether, at least hit Enter twice. When you’re reading a fast paced thriller, those things can really throw you off, hitting the breaks on an otherwise good momentum.

Coming back…

The characters are as good a place as any to begin. The characters are good, but their growth is terrible. The main characters seem to have some bipolarity going on at the weirdest of times. They go from being angry and closed off to super emotional in seconds, and that too for no real reason. They have these over-dramatic reactions to random things, and mainly just seem a little confused about who they are. I get the intense aspect – cops, trauma survivors, and people dealing with crime day in and day out will be so – but there is no consistency in their personalities or evolution of personalities. And that really slows the book down.

Coming to the story – the delivery is choppy. A lot of things are happening which come together eventually, but they are presented in a way that leaves you confused about the timeline. You think days have passed and it’s been only hours, or vice versa. That makes it a little hard to follow and you have to take a lot of things as just given and move on.

The last aspect that wasn’t tapped to its full potential was the depth of the evil that the book touches upon. It does decently on showing you the darkness that people can have. But it seems to only scratch the surface and leave a lot implied. I wouldn’t have minded reading more thoughts, monologs, or even narration, if it would have helped paint a complete picture, instead of just bits and pieces here and there.

All that being said, the book does great on closure. It brings almost all tangents to a comfortable close, and gives you a nice, complete feel – at least on the story. And that’s why I wouldn’t greatly mind reading more of the author’s work. As long as there isn’t too much of the off-putting stuff, of course!

Recommended for:

  • 16+ (or maybe even 17+) because of the gore and disturbing details
  • Fans of psychological thrillers as a thrill (or holiday or easy) read
  • Readers who enjoy crime fiction and crime thrillers
  • Readers who tend to enjoy the commercial (TV/Book) versions of criminal psychology

Share your thoughts in the comments below! I’d also love a recommendation of a really good psychological thriller.

– Rishika