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A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

This is the novel I've been dying to share since I first read it last month. Not a week goes by where I don't think about this book. Stacy Willingham is a horror-thriller writer based out of South Carolina best known for her bestselling novels, A Flicker in the Dark and All the Dangerous Things. Emma Stone was optioned to play Chloe Davis in a movie based on this book!


If you're a fan of reading horror novels with a serial killer premise, this book should be the first on your list!




SYPNOSIS: When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.


Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to get. Sometimes, though, she feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, and seeing parallels that aren't really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?

***


Set in the southern state of Louisiana, Chloe Davis is a smart (albeit a little baked..) main character in this plot with a quite interesting dynamic. I don't think I have ever come across a serial killer story where the main character is the killer's own daughter. This was the main reason why I was so attracted to this book and decided to give it a go.



“And in that moment, the moment of the crash, it made me realize that monsters don’t hide in the woods; they aren’t shadows in the trees or invisible things lurking in darkened corners. No, the real monsters move in plain sight.”



Also, the cover was definitely the first thing that caught my eye. It's nothing earth-shattering but the design is so brilliant in a subtle way that conveys every feeling this book gave me.


Her trauma combined with the suspense is displayed perfectly within the plot. There are many little twists and turns throughout which throw you off the final plot twist. To be honest, however, I saw the twist coming precisely from the second chapter so it wasn't exactly a shock to me when it was actually revealed. I'm not sure if I already saw it coming because of my experience thanks to the sheer amount of mysteries I've read so far, but Willingham did a rather lazy job hiding the real killer, though. So nothing to flex here.


Chloe struggles with TW substance abuse/ PTSD which is super ironic and funny because she's supposed to be a psychologist herself. It's fitting too because she does a far better job at being one compared to her colleagues when it comes to understanding the situations of her teenage clients.

There are many scenes in the story where Chloe and her thoughts are rather lost and clogged which undermines majority of how good the plot could be. Many readers would find her indifference a bit infuriating.



“More often that not, it's just the thought of them that calms my nerves. I once told a claustrophobic patient to carry a single Xanax in her purse every time she boards a plane, its mere presence strong enough to elicit a mental reaction, a physical response. She probably wouldn't even need to take it, I told her; just knowing there was an escape within reach would be enough to ease the suffocating weight from her chest.”



Her father, the original depicted 'serial killer' and her mother with her medical condition were both rather unrealistic. It was obvious, even from the summary written on the back of the book, that her father was never actually the serial killer. I won't spoil the book further but the real serial killer was....predictable.


All in all, the book is a solid 3 out of 5 stars solely because of its intensity and the psychological plot which gives way to a strong potential storyline.


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