The scene was set. It was a dark wintry night, the curtains were pulled tight against the cold, the fire was burning bright, and my cup of tea was hot and steamy. Ahhh, I can relax into some dark reads for these closed in nights. I like a good bit of bleakness in winter.
My first read was a new book The Cellar by Minette Walters. I have read previous psychological thrillers by her and like the questions that come when reading this genre. Are psychopaths born or created? Who is the perpetrator? Who is the victim? Is it nature vs nurture or both?
The Cellar is an interesting fast paced read. The main character Muna is the victim as well as the perpetrator of violence in this story. She has been “adopted” by the Songoli family yet has never been outside the house, her bedroom is a dark windowless cellar, and she cannot read write or speak English. The story begins when the youngest son goes missing after school and the police are called the next day. Why the delay? What happened? This is a dark and suspenseful read.
My next read was Our Endless Numbered Days, a first novel by Claire Fuller. The book reminded me of a fairy tale with powerful themes and intense characters. This was the story of family drama with the tension held between the reality of life and the fantasy of a return to nature.
Peggy is the victim as she is abducted, as a young child, by her obsessive survivalist father. He takes her “die Hutte” and tells her they are now the only two people left in the world. The story, told in flashback by Peggy, held me as a reader as I wanted to discover how she returned home and what happened to her along the way. An impressive story from a first time writer.
Two bleak and dark reads for these even darker nights.