The title of this novel just gives you the chills.

This is Gillian Flynn’s second published novel, published after Sharp Objects and before Gone Girl, though it’s the last one I read. Knowing how psychologically disturbing Sharp Objects was, I decided to read Dark Places, wanting to challenge myself with an intense novel.

The protagonist, Libby Day, was the sole survivor of a massacre in which her mother and two older sisters were violently killed in their farmhouse in 1985, when Libby was seven. She testified that her older brother Ben was the one who committed the murders, and he was convicted and sent to jail.

Nearly twenty-five years later, Libby finds herself in need of money, having lived off of donations from the public for most of her life. She gets involved with a team of amateur investigators who are convinced that Ben is innocent. Although Libby is skeptical at first, she becomes determined to find out the truth by tracking down a number of people of interest, including Ben’s former girlfriend, old best friend and her own estranged father. dark-places-cover-w352

The format of the book alternatives between present day and flashbacks to the day of the murders. Libby narrates the present in the first person, while the events of that day in 1985 are told through third person accounts of Libby’s mom and Ben. I like that Flynn chose to use different narrative techniques, because it shows the difference between what Libby only knows, as opposed to what is really happening in the lives of other people. it adds great perspective to the story.

I found this book also psychologically disturbing, but in a different way. In Sharp Objects, the protagonist struggles more with her inner demons. In this novel. Flynn explores the difficult of family dynamics, poverty and satanic worships, issues that were present in the 80s. This novel is a mystery, unraveling what really happened that day and keeping you guessing as to who did what.

If you’re in for a hard core mystery with some Stephen King-like gore and violence, this is a book to read.