You know that age in every teenager’s life where they start to become a little bit rebellious? Telling little white lies, sneaking out, hanging out with crowds they know the family wouldn’t approve of? It can be a scary time for parents, who knows who’s out there? The Darkest Lies is every parent’s worst nightmare and follows a mother who finds her world shattered when her daughter goes missing.
I’m going to come right out and say that this book was frustrating for me. The synopsis really caught my eye and the idea for the plot is intriguing. Unfortunately, issues with the protagonist as well as a shaky and highly predictable plot made for a mediocre experience.
“The marsh was more of a home these days than the house. I felt closer to you here, Beth. The wind whistled around me as if greeting an old friend, as if you were with it.”
The narration in this book was a little bit weird and I had a hard time getting used to it. It is primarily told using first person point of view though switches regularly to second person as Melanie speaks directly to Beth in her inner monologue. It was just uncomfortable to read.
What’s so bad about first person point of view? See the issue for me with first person narration is that it’s easy to end up alienating readers if it’s difficult to relate to the narrator, and boy did I dislike Melanie. To be blunt, she was really annoying. She was self-centered, mean-spirited, often blinded by her own hubris, and near the end has a bit of a messiah complex going which I found completely ridiculous. She was constantly complaining about the police’s incompetence, throwing herself in the way of the investigation despite being asked multiple times to back off before she could destroy their leads.
“I couldn’t go home. I was too furious, too desperate to prove I was right and the police were wrong.”
I get it, she’s consumed with guilt and grief over what happened to her daughter, over not being able to protect her. Desperate people tend to lash out and do stupid things, but I just couldn’t believe anyone would be so foolish. Melanie’s antics do lead up to something important in the plot, but honestly she didn’t need any help making a fool of herself. Before all the crazy came out she was constantly breaking down every female character she encountered, often focusing in on their looks and finding ways to insult them. Neighbors, police officers working on the case, teenagers, it didn’t matter. There are numerous examples of Melanie exhibiting this jealous personality throughout the course of the book.
She spends more time going on drunken rampages pointing fingers at everyone in town, harassing the police, treating her husband like garbage while emotionally cheating with a friend, and avoiding actually seeing and being there for her daughter. While her awful actions over the course of the book is an important aspect of the plot, I just couldn’t justify it because she never learns and remains stubborn even after being told off multiple times. Add on top how stereotypically reckless she acts at the end instead of seeking help from the police because of course she doesn’t need them and I just couldn’t dig the story.
I liked the central idea around the dangers of teens sneaking out and trusting strangers, but the story meandered so much it kind of gets lost in Melanie’s mental collapse and crazed search for the culprit. The plot attempts to use some misdirection to keep the reader guessing but the construction was just sloppy, and the actual culprit isn’t even the character that Melanie cares about the most. Every “bad” character is so blatantly obvious that the advertised twist is really easy to see. I kept on reading because I wanted to know the how and the why. I think there was potential here, and if the author wanted to stick to the narrative that Mel is actually really nice and is just being manipulated then why does she remain every bit as petty and controlling? She is still unable to see past her own emotions and unable to learn from her mistakes. I wished that this could’ve ended with more character growth for the main character.
Title: The Darkest Lies
Author: Barbara Copperthwaite
Publication Date: May 12, 2017
Format: ARC / Ebook
A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.
Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.
Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.
Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?
As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…