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Daisy Darker: 12/29/22
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney and Stephanie Racine (Narrator) (2022) is an And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939) pastiche. But it opens with a note from the editor that the story might seem unbelievable, extraordinary even, but is presented as it was delivered to them.
Set on a tidal island near Land's End, England, it's two stories in one. First is the 2004 disastrous gathering of a family at the matriarch's home, one that is isolated by the tide twice a day. The second is the tragic life of a young woman born with a defective heart and the family who just couldn't quite love her, save for her grandmother.
The narrator of both stories is Daisy Darker, the woman with the heart problem. Over the course of the novel she recounts all the times her heart failed her — the times she died. Meanwhile in 2004 she watches, horror struck, as her family members die, one an hour, as they are trapped by high tide.
I happened to listen to the novel as an audiobook. Stephanie Racine, the narrator, does a fine job with the text presented. There just happens to be too much of it, especially in Daisy Darker's extended flashback on her tragic life. Had I read this book in print, I would have skimmed, or even skipped huge chunks of Daisy's childhood.
Comparing the length of Daisy Darker to the Christie's mystery, the newer book has nearly one hundred pages on the original. Those extra pages do nothing for the main focus of the book, namely, who is killing off the family? Daisy's life is mostly a distraction.
But if you really care what Daisy Darker's "secret" is, it's told to you in the first few paragraphs of the book. If you're annoyed at how little Daisy does — how she seems more like set decoration than an actual character — that's all explained too. If you don't get it early on, all will be explained at the end.
Since I was paying attention in the first few minutes of the book and tend to take clues literally, I wasn't at all surprised by the dramatic reveal at the end. The shocking solution is the only one that makes any sense — the only one that gives the killer any motivation.
This mystery also sits on the Road Narrative Spectrum. The travelers are the Darker family (33). Their destination isn't uhoria as only one of them is aware of the connection to the past. Instead, their destination is the wild lands (99), in the form of the tidal island. Their route there is the maze (CC), in that there are lots of traps and actual danger.