‘This Little Dark Place’ by A. S. Hatch
Genre: Psychological Thriller/ Mystery
Published: October 2019, Serpent’s Tail / Profile Books
Swathi’s Rating: 5/5
Verdict: Hatch skillfully plays mind games with his readers, in this dark, unsettling psychological thriller.
‘This Little Dark Place’ is a dark, unsettling psychological thriller and I am trying my best to review this Novel without giving out the story, as it will be a spoiler of fun for my fellow readers! Enjoy the blurb and don’t forget to read my thoughts below. Happy reading. xx
How well do you know your girlfriend?
How well do you know your lover?
How well do you know yourself?
Daniel and Victoria are together. They’re trying for a baby. Ruby is in prison, convicted of assault on an abusive partner.
But when Daniel joins a pen pal program for prisoners, he and Ruby make contact. At first the messages are polite, neutral – but soon they find themselves revealing more and more about themselves. Their deepest fears, their darkest desires. And then, one day, Ruby comes to find Daniel. And now he must decide who to choose – and who to trust.
Daniel, a carpenter and Victoria are in a relationship and they live in a quiet little town where nothing really happens. Dan is happy doing his carpentry works and lives in peace, Victoria though, gets bored often. She is often looking for something to do, something to kill time. But soon gets restless and does something weird. The list goes on, until one day she decides to get pregnant.
The couple try and try for an year, and an other. One miscarriage after another occurs, leaving Victoria angry and hopeless. Soon, the couple aren’t functional anymore. They hardly talk to each other and indulge themselves in other activities just to stay in the same house.
That’s when Dan encounters a program online called Inbox Inmates where people are allowed to talk to inmates in prison through anonymous network where their identities are concealed. Then one day he receives a letter from a female inmate called Ruby whose email intrigues Dan to reply her and this begins a weird relationship between the two of them.
Meanwhile Dan is devastated after the death of his mother whose long suffering Dementia only made it worse for the couple. Surprisingly, Dan inherits an old unused cottage cum shed from his mother, which is literally surrounded by wilderness. Dan decides to renovate and move in there with Vic, which is somehow the beginning and end of his life!
The whole novel is in the form of letters or diary entries written by Dan to someone named Lucy from an undisclosed location and a futuristic timeline (year 2033!). Since Dan is the only available narrator who is unreliable and wavering right from the start, the reader has no other option than to trust his perspective on the other characters including Ruby and Victoria. Adding to the mystery, Dan’s narration becomes a mirror of the reader’s thoughts, displaying the exact questions that are slowly creeping into the reader’s brain. As crazy as this might sound, this is one very intelligent tool used by the author to play mind games with his audience and he really aces it!
This book is highly psychological with a thriller element that creates an unease right from the page 1. It only gets darker and spine-chilling as the story progresses and A.S. Hatch maintains a steady pace throughout. Now as a reader, I am still shaky from my reading experience, as my brain wanted to quit this book and take a breath but I just couldn’t put it down! Definitely one of the unusually breathtaking books I’ve read and totally unforgettable.
I volunteered to review this book on Netgalley and thanks to the publisher for my E-Galley. All opinions are mine.
Meet the Author:
A.S. Hatch grew up in Lancashire in the 90s, and has lived in Taipei and Melbourne. Now he lives in London and writes fiction in his living room-slash-office-slash-gym in the early hours of the morning before going to work in political communications.
He tweets @Andrewshatch