Book Reviews

Book Review: Dark Circles

By Caite Dolan-Leach

Publication Date:  April 19, 2022

384 Pages

Olivia Reed is an actress enjoying moderate fame from her lead role in a popular teenage drama.  However, her drunken and public antics have garnered her unwanted notoriety.  After one too many hits in the tabloid, her manager, Jess, hussles Olivia off to a spiritual retreat center called The House of Light (HOL) to dry out.  

Once there, Olivia meets Ava, who believes the HOL is responsible for the death of several young women, even though they’ve been ruled suicides.  According to Ava, they all died on a solstice or equinox and all had been connected to HOL.  After Olivia’s early departure from HOL, she’s at loose ends and begins to follow up on Ava’s theories.  Some have merit, and despite Jess’s warnings that it would be career suicide, Olivia launches a real-time podcast investigating the women’s deaths, an investigation that might get her closer to the truth than the HOL wants to reveal.

This was a surprisingly good read.  I say “surprising” because while I love thrillers, they rest on the narrator and I’m often disappointed.  Not this time, I loved this one.  From the first page, Olivia’s voice shone through.  She was real and interesting, someone I may not like in real life but wanted to follow.  She was complex, with her own family issues adding to her quest, but while they made for a satisfying subplot and lent solid clues that made me question what was real and what was a red herring, they didn’t take over the main story line.  However, the family history did provide a satisfying character arc.  Great pacing and it was a quick read – mainly because I needed to find out what was going to happen next.  

I also really got into the structure.  It’s possible that inserting a podcast in between the narratives isn’t a new thing but I’ve not encountered it.  (I read a lot of historical fiction, not too many podcasts in those.)  I also loved the use of the sleuthing internet community providing clues for Olivia to follow.  Again, probably nothing new but not a world I’m part of so it made for an interesting line of reasoning for her to follow.

“Dark Circles” interpreted by Wombo Dream

My only complaint would be that the ending came as a minor let down.  I wasn’t too terribly surprised by the reveal of the ultimate manipulator and there were one or two strings I didn’t feel were sufficiently tied up – the answers were there but so vague, their resolution wasn’t as strong as I would have liked.

Even so, it wasn’t enough to drop my rating, which came in at a solid four stars.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐  I’ve already recommended this book to a coworker.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for providing the ARC copy of this book.  I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.


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