Published by Serpent's Tail Limited on April 2, 2020
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Horror
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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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.
I’m very excited to be reviewing This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review – all thoughts are my own. My initial summary of this book for you all is – buckle up bitches, you’re in for a ride. I had so many emotions while reading it – this usually consisted of worry, hate and not without a sprinkling of angst. So, if you’re sitting comfortably I’ll just delve straight in – band aid clean off.
Straight off we are getting the impression that Daniel has done something terrible. He’s writing a story to a girl named Lucy, who wants to get his side of the story. Intriguing. He tells the story of Victoria, his girlfriend and Ruby his pen pal. Ruby interestingly is in prison for assaulting her ex-partner, Lee. The first chapter packs a punch and sets up the premise of the story perfectly. My initial thoughts on Daniel starting up a friendship with Ruby was quite frankly NO WAY. Okay so that person could be completely innocent, but I’d constantly have that niggle in the back of my mind that they could cause me harm if they were ever to be released and wanted to find me.
A.S. Hatch has is goal in mind but sets up little Easter eggs within each character’s arcs. Daniel’s childhood was referred to multiple times and the author refers to violence and hatred in childhood. Can a childhood experience alter and defect a brain? Is rationality at home or is it a stranger? Daniel is a reasonable human being and Ruby ever so slightly crazy, yeah? His characterisations are complex and highlights the effect of isolation and trauma on the human mind. Dan’s childhood tainted by a vulnerable mother, an abusive religious fanatic who displays behaviours regarding sex that is deeply disturbing and with no doubt affected Dan’s perceptions of relationships and sex. I felt for Dan – he had it hard, but he also frustrated me at different points too. I wanted to find out why this trio were interconnected together, what was going to be the tipping point? I’m not ashamed to say that I couldn’t focus on anything else while reading their story.
Victoria is clearly a woman with issues herself. She seems deeply insecure and unsure what she should be doing with her life. Victoria is a character a lot of women can relate to whether we want to admit it or not. A lot happens between Daniel and Vic- failed pregnancy attempts, IVF, fears of infidelity, the death of their baby boy and the death of Daniel’s mother, the final nail in the proverbial coffin. Their relationship is doomed. Too much has happened, too much to forget.
The author has managed to balance the fine thread of strong characterisation with an absolutely insane plot with head spinning twists along the way. The strongest dynamics come between Ruby and Dan. They share secrets, fears, hopes but underlying is mistrust, anger and a realisation that – do you ever know someone? Can life in a virtual world be replicated in the real world? Ruby on paper has had it hard. A bad relationship with her father, she only has her twin to guide her through life, gets too attached to her clients and then she met Lee. An abusive partner who broke and grinded her down, enough was enough, her sister was going to help her escape. However, things go wrong and Lee ends up critically injured. Ruby is convicted which brings us full circle to her being in prison communicating with Dan. She’s quite obviously innocent, Isn’t she? I immensely enjoyed the way the author added complex layers to his characters to deepen and enrich the storyline, it was mesmerising.
Dan and Vic move further apart. Things from this point get cray cray. The last quarter of the book is most definitely my favourite. Things sky rocket out of control. Ruby’s character has seriously questionable issues. Who can you trust? Are things as they appear? The characterisation-sublime, the plot – out of control, the atmosphere – tangible. Even the house seems to be adding to the sense of mistrust and fear. Be prepared to go through a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s a good un.