** A free copy was issued by the publisher – all content and opinions expressed are my own.
I first read and enjoyed Darling on an ebook arc sent to me last Spring but I wasn’t able to blog a full review due to other commitments. The paperback release has finally arrived and so I thought now was a good time to share a review!
You can also WIN your own copy, see the end of this post for details (UK & Ireland only due to costs).
A white teenage girl clashes with her new black stepmother in this debut reading group thriller.
Lola doesn’t particularly want a new stepmother. Especially not one who has come out of nowhere and only been with her dad for three months. And – she’s not racist or anything – but since when did her dad fancy black women anyway?
Darling didn’t particularly want a new stepdaughter. Especially not one as spiteful and spoilt as Lola. She does want Lola’s dad though. And he wants her, so that’s that: Darling and Lola will just have to get used to each other.
Unless Lola can find a way to get rid of Darling.
Paperback published 7th February 2019 by 4th Estate.
Wow, I am still very much “What did I just read?” about this book. It certainly takes you on a ride and you never feel entirely comfortable with both what you are reading and how you feel about each character. These conversations are not supposed to be comfortable though, and I feel very strongly that this own voices, part sociopolitical part thriller book deserves to receive generous praise.
It is a stunning, gripping, drama-packed book and despite reading a couple of spoilerish reviews on Goodreads (grrrr) I still didn’t see what happened coming, it keeps you guessing and delivers many eyebrow raising moments.
The main characters of Lola and Darling are both very cleverly constructed and interesting. Lola’s dialogue is very telling of her age, her naivety, and the complicated grief vs coming-of-age/ rebellious journey that she’s had forced upon her. She is snide, selfish and hostile and yet at the back of mind you wonder what is truly going on here? Darling has a chance at happiness and makes huge efforts with Lola and yet there are secrets, and a campaign of hatred that seems set to spoil everything she’s created. I truly loved the complexity of this story and the astute, sharp-witted writing that combines the experiences of these characters and creates an unputdownable read.
I have seen a number of reviews of this book critical of how the plot seems to swap from a tale about blended families and race, to a thriller. I take issue with this because many popular titles of late have adopted a similar approach of combining personal identities (mental health, loneliness etc) with twists and this was ok? It feels somewhat like a black author choosing to write their own reality (the author is also a stepmother) in to a skilful thriller plot wasn’t met so well by some audiences expecting maybe a straightforward read about step families, Brexit and racism (as if that’s anything straightforward)? In my opinion this book isn’t designed to educate, it isn’t a memoir, it is a thriller; it reflects a reality that is present in the UK right now, and guess what, the antagonists can be all of the above AND complex, clever and even dangerous. You know, like everyday people.
If you are looking for a crazy ride, a gripping plot that will leave you with questions and feeling just a little bit freaked out, this is the domestic noir thriller for you!
To win a paperback copy of Darling please follow my Instagram page and find the competition post to enter.
UK & Ireland entrants only.
Closing date 14th Feb at 10pm.