What They Do in the Dark by Amanda Coe

I had high hopes for this book:

  • An intriguing title
  • A striking cover
  • Publication by Virago

I had to pick it up, and thought the back cover gave away nothing of the plot it did give a few enticing details, and it did promise to evoke an emotional reaction.

I did react emotionally – though not in a good way – and I found the title and the details a little misleading.

The book opens with a wonderful piece of writing: a press story about Lallie, a rising child story, that cleverly echoes stories of child stars of the past without resembling any one too closely.

There is no doubt that Amanda Coe can write, and write very well.

The story then moves to two schoolgirls. Gemma, who has been spoiled but whose life has been unsettled by the breakdown of her parent’s marriage, and Pauline, who has been neglected and raised in squalor.

An unlikely friendship develops between them, in fits and starts.

Meanwhile Lallie is appearing in a film, and her story is told through those around her.

The characters and the situations convinced at first, but as the story advanced things broke down. The story was going to go in a certain direction, and everything else was secondary.

Then a horrible ending came out of nowhere. The cover suggested that I might be haunted, or heartbroken, or angry.

Actually, I was repulsed, and my first inclination was to toss the book away and write nothing about it.

But now, thinking a little more objectively, I can see what the author was trying to do. She made some telling  points, she picked up on some interesting details, but her book failed for me because she pushed things too far.

A promising writer, but a disappointing book.

Such a pity.

 

4 responses

  1. I hate it when you have high expectations for a book but it turns out to be a bit of a let down. Especially when they take a really good idea and execute it badly. I know I’m probably in the minority saying this but The God Of Small Things was one such book for me.

    I thought the concept was good and it was clear that Roy had great talent but the end result for me just didn’t work. I feel your frustration.

    • Same here. The writing was wonderful, much of the set-up was interesting, but then the author pushed too hard.

      I liked The God of Small Things a little more than you, but I didn’t feel it justified the level of attention it got.

    • The ending was a shock. It was excessive and it didn’t quite ring true. Unless you like your fiction very dark this is one to avoid, sadly.

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