“Families are like fingerprints; no two are the same, and they tend to leave their mark.”
― Alice Feeney, Daisy Darker
Alice Feeney’s latest novel, Daisy Darker, is a dark and twisty locked-room mystery of a family gathered together for their grandmother’s birthday. It was deliciously messy and full of family drama. This is a contender for my favorite novel of 2022.
Daisy Darker was born with a broken heart. She wasn’t particularly wanted by either of her parents, but nevertheless she survived and was brought home to start her life with her parents and her two older sisters. Flash forward years and Daisy’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party on a tiny tidal island in her crumbling gothic house. The family has been avoiding each other for years, but a fortune teller foretold that Nana would die on her 80th birthday, so the family has assembled per her wishes.
As each member of the family arrives, they bring baggage, both physical and the secrets that they are all hiding from each other. The tidal island that Nana lives on means that the entire family will be shut off from the rest of the world for eight hours until the tide goes out. At midnight, a storm rages across the island. A scream pierces the night. Nana is found dead. An hour later, another family member is discovered dead. A deadly mystery has come to the island and the Darker family is left wondering who is responsible. Stuck on the island where someone is murdering the members of the Darker family one by one, they all must pull out their past secrets until they figure out the present murder mystery. They just have to make it until the tide goes out and they can escape the island. The deadly force on island may not let them leave alive though. Only time will tell.
This book is also available in the following formats:
An uncharacteristic thing has happened to this librarian lately: I haven’t felt much like reading. Of all the strange happenings in our world right now during this COVID-19 pandemic, this was yet another unexpected experience. I have no shortage of reading material. I have a reliable device I can use to download a variety of digital books. This seems like the perfect time to work my way through that looming stack of print books on my table waiting to be read.
And yet, my heart is just not in it. I sit down for about five minutes and then I am distracted and put it down and go do something else.
There has been one exception, however. I happened to be in the middle of reading The Wild Robot by Peter Brown with one of my children before bedtime each night before all this began. The chapters are short, and at one chapter a night, it was taking us a while to work our way through this 279-page book about a robot stranded on an island. But each night I read it aloud, the Wild Robot and its island populated by many animals and no humans endeared itself to me more and more.
You might think that reading a book with no humans in it during a pandemic is a lonely choice in an already lonely situation. Or perhaps on the contrary, you think it is a logical and fitting choice to read about being stranded on an island when it often feels exactly like that as we are isolated in our homes. I think there was something reflective about this mechanical protagonist who gradually (though paradoxically) becomes more humane through time and experience that captured my interest and my heart. Human interaction right now -when it does happen- is less warm and personal, more technological. Somehow the mirror image of a technological being becoming more warm and personal through challenging life experiences was a sort of balm to my woes.
Brown’s writing made reading effortless for me once again. His animal characters have unique personalities. The events that happen on his remote island, both tragic and joyful, are magically relatable. I have always been a fan of anthropomorphism. I am even more so now.
I wish I could point you to a digital version of this title that you can download immediately for free through the library, but our library currently only owns this in print. If you would like to request it for purchase in digital format, you can log into your library account using either the Libby or Overdrive apps and request this title. Be aware that it ends on a cliffhanger and you will probably want to read its sequel, The Wild Robot Escapes.
In the meantime, here are some similar books with anthropomorphic characters available digitally when you log into Overdrive with your Davenport Public Library account that you may enjoy: