'Daisy Darker' by Alice Feeney
So, I'm going to do something I never thought I'd do—give a book a rating that includes a half-star.
For me, this was a ⭑⭑⭑+ read. Though the writing was great—atmospheric and appropriately moody—it took far too long for the story itself to grab me. It meandered along for a while as part family drama, part mystery for more than three-quarters of the book, with members of the Darker clan inexplicably dying off one by one, with the entire drama being narrated by Daisy, the family outcast.
For much of the book, the death of each victim was less interesting than the gradual exposition of the family's transgressions toward Daisy. And the question of why Daisy viewed herself as an outcast eventually proved much more compelling than the need to uncover the perpetrator; and when the answer to Daisy's estrangement came, it was much too late BUT (and this is a big 'but') the backstory and resolution to the mystery of that estrangement is VERY intriguing. It literally rescued the book for me, and left me wishing that the author had given us even more about how Daisy and her family wound up where they were. The snippets of time and incidents given to us, and the hints at the Darker family dynamics were detailed and provocative but did not fully explain the motivations of the characters, especially of Daisy's mother and sisters. And most especially, those details did not explain the murderous actions taken by the perpetrator. The clue to that deficiency came the way it always comes—when the author included a scene where the 'villain' give a long explanation of why they did what they did. If their motivation isn't evident to the reader, in my opinion, then something in the story structure needs to be reworked.
Ultimately, the concept was amazing, but the execution fell just short of its full potential.
Audiobook Note: Excellent narrator. Very emotionally evocative, especially toward the very end when the story takes a turn that's melancholy. The voice and tone of the narrator foreshadowed that turn extremely well, even before the details of it were revealed.
My rating: ⭑⭑⭑+