New ARC Review: The Familiar Dark

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Rated 4.5 of 5 stars

Expected publication: March 31st 2020 by Dutton Books

This book has so much depth to it. It’s hard to even start this review because there are so many twists, deep meanings and characterization in this novel. So I’ll start with the Goodreads synopsis:

A spellbinding story of a mother with nothing left to lose who sets out on an all-consuming quest for justice after her daughter is murdered on the town playground.

Sometimes the answers are worse than the questions. Sometimes it’s better not to know.

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the reality about her daughter’s death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother’s trailer for a final lesson.

The Familiar Dark is a story about the bonds of family–women doing the best they can for their daughters in dire circumstances–as well as a story about how even the darkest and most terrifying of places can provide the comfort of home.


My spoiler-free review:

The story opens with the deaths of two young girls. It is spoken from one of the girl’s perspective and her memories that flash before her death. It’s captivating and jarring. Then we follow, Eve Taggert, mother of one of the girls killed, as she finds out. This is the most heartwrenching moment to read a mother being notified of her child’s death. So at this point, readers are feeling a deep sympathy for the main character, a hardworking, single mother trying to give everything to her child. Eve manages her grief with the poison of revenge. She can’t eat, think or feel unless its related to her daughter’s death and finding the monster who killed her. In this process of grieving, readers get a walk through the life of the poor town she lives in, her family (an absurd mother and doting brother who is also a cop and affected deeply by the death of his niece). Readers gather an understanding of how relationships work in this hard-nosed town full of folks trying to make ends meet. Eve is unlike any character I’ve read before. She’s soft but hard in so many ways and understands what its like to be a woman in society. Underestimated, overlooked and judged. This is where the true depth of this novel takes root. There are many times in the story that the main character, Eve, reflects on what it’s like to be a woman and a mother and its really thought-provoking. So even as Eve gets closer to finding out who stole away the only thing keeping her hope alive for the future, she learns more about herself and her ability to change, grow and use all the tools in her toolkit to survive. All in all, I loved this story and it had a pretty good twist at the end that will leave most people shocked if they aren’t watching hard enough. This novel serves up heart and soul on a platter and makes you get wrapped up in the character’s angst. I’d highly recommend this novel for purchase as you will find yourself enthralled on page 1.

Pre-Order on Amazon

Raging Book Reviews Highly Recommended

*Special thanks to #netgalley and @duttonbooks #duttonbooks for the advanced copy for review.

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