Author: Rachel Edwards
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Drama
Publisher: 4th Estate, Harper Collins
Summary: from Goodreads
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.
I honestly wasn’t sure exactly what to expect going in with this book. Is it a domestic drama? Psychological Thriller? Bit of both? However, I think its actually best to just go with it and not try and define it too much. The first thing to say is that I liked how current Darling feels. it is set just after the Brexit vote in 2016 and whilst this is not a major plot point, the storyline does demonstrate some of the unfortunate repercussions of the vote, namely a rise in crimes with racist undertones. I thought it was really interesting to see Brexit in a work of fiction. Another big issue in Darling is racism itself and the corrosive effect it can have on it’s victims. The casual racism from some characters is actually all the more shocking because it is so recognisable. The phrase ‘I’m not racist, but…’ which is usually followed by a clearly racist statement is one I’m sure most readers will have heard at some point which makes it hit home just a little harder.
To be frank, neither of the main characters in Darling are particularly likeable, although I did feel some measure of empathy for both of them occasionally. Darling and Lola are both deeply flawed human beings and are at times insufferable but personally I don’t mind reading a book where I don’t like the characters, sometimes I even prefer it as long as the book is good enough in other areas. Lola comes across pretty immediately as a nasty and bratty teenage girl. The author has done a very good job of getting the voice of a certain type of teenager right. Lola is alternately cruel, jealous, vulnerable and shallow. Her sections of the book are in a kind of diary form which I felt worked nicely and took us right inside the characters most honest thoughts and feelings. Darling, on the other hand, comes across at first as a much kinder and more genuine person than Lola but you also quickly get the feeling that all is not quite as it seems with her and as you read further it actually becomes harder to get the full picture of who she really is.
I really don’t want to give anything away about the latter part of the book so as not to spoil anything but I will say that the readers perceptions are twisted around several times in a feeling almost akin to whiplash. Even twists that I did have an inkling of before they took place still felt shocking when they happened. By the end of the book I just had no idea who to trust about anything. I don’t think this book will be for everyone but I thought it was a highly unconventional and compelling read which I will be thinking of for a while yet.
Darling is out on 17th May 2018
I received this e-arc from Netgalley in exchange for a completely honest review.