Gift of Darkness
This is a story around people who are driven. They are different in their motivations and the outcomes of their intense drives to action and intentions, but nonetheless their whole lives are are about tat which drives them.
Set in Seattle it makes little use of the traditional points around which Seattle stories are often set – the rain and damp and the houseboats… although the water and islands are used but often more as backgrounds to the personages and their thoughts.
When I went to Seattle some years ago I was surprised how it was so much less than I had been led to believe by the films and stories I had read about it. Pike Street Market was small and had little to interest me. Then there was the coffee – I had been led to believe that Seattle was the home of the coffee shop revival and thus I could expect to find good coffee there. I didn’t. Now I understand that this may partly be a question of taste. When we went to Europe we drank what we considered to be real coffee. Black and strong. But it seemed that the Starbucks coffee was not the same as European coffee and this greatly disappointed me. And then there was the cute little tea shop I stumbled across with my friend after we had been to Pike Street. Looked great from the outside. Cute tables, nice crockery and in we went and asked for a pot of tea. No pots available. Oh. What varieties of tea do you have? Only one. How is served? From this large can here which we filled this morning as we opened the shop. Very stewed! Do you have a kettle so you can make us some fresh? No. So out we walked. Now even if the water was filled into a hot boiler as the shop opened they could have made fresh tea as it was ordered but to make tea once a day – of whatever variety – is just not on!
In fact Seattle was such a disappointment to me that I wished I had arranged to spend the weekend on Vancouver Island rather than just take a day-trip over. There would have been much to see – and indeed when I went to Canada a few years later I made sure that a longer trip to Vancouver Island was included. If only to show my husband the garden there – Butchart Gardens
with its azaleas of many colours – all jumbled together… very bright indeed… and not at all in the style now favoured by European gardens which are influenced by the idea of prairie gardens and more naturalistic gardens with more grasses and large sweeps of colour and plants rather than one of everything.
I could have stayed in cute Victoria and looked around on foot, rather than taking the hurried bus tour so when we went back we did indeed do this. In fact Vancouver Island proved a joy as did the trip across to mainland Canada by ferry across the straits. But none of this is relevant to a book that was set in and around Seattle – Vancouver Island only gets a brief mention.
So the book. I give it 5 stars, which is indeed very rare for me as I can usually find a fault or two, even if it is bad proof reading. But I found the twists and turns here and the chilling characters who were neither wholly good nor wholly bad intriguing as well as disturbing. Whilst we knew who the ‘villain’ was by ¾ of the way through, actually the story of how he was found and who by, was taut and well written. And all because of a small mistake or lack of attention years before that set up a grudge that needed such extreme retaliation. Although the lack of attention had caused this person severe trauma indeed and had warped his character, it was clear that he must have been inclined that way always otherwise he would not have been able to do what he did. He was cunning indeed. The only issue I had was around the grave yard scenes. The skeletons would have been easy to tell if they were from an adult or a child no matter how badly burnt the bones were, so when they found they were all adult, there would have been no point in digging up the grave of a child. And if you move a grave-stone the soil will be very disturbed and easy to tell so I thought that this part was not as well thought out.
Was the book over long? Possibly. But it did keep my attention up and I kept reading to see what would happen next. So all praise to this author VM Giambanco and her debut, and let’s read the next book soon.