Review and Excerpt: Her Dark Lies
Title: Her Dark Lies
Author: J. T. Ellison
Release Date: March 9, 2021
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Find it here: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads: Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.
From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.
Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins…
The Long Night
When I look back on that night, I still can’t be entirely sure of the sequence.
Everything happened at once, with a blurred intensity so strong that, under the influence of alcohol and terror and a blinding concussion, all I know for sure is that my life was irrevocably changed. A split second, a reaction, a protective urge, and my entire axis shifted. If it weren’t for Jack, I don’t know what might have happened to me. What if I had come home alone to this monster in my house? The tables would be turned, I’m sure.
It would be me who was dead.
I remember shouting.
A yelp of pain.
The crash of the front door.
The pounding of feet on stairs.
The acrid scent of burning wire.
The adrenaline rush of stark fear.
The vision of a hand wrapped around the grip of a gun—is it mine? Is it Jack’s? Gideon’s? Malcolm’s?
The hard finality of the crash when the body of the intruder landed at my feet, knocking me backward into the wall with such force I sustain a concussion.
A Crow ripping off the intruder’s mask, but I can’t look. I can’t look.
Jack screaming at them.
The haziness begins there.
There are flashes, moments that feel like dreams, like movies. It doesn’t feel like it’s happening to me. It doesn’t feel like something I’ve done.
Who is he? Who is this man who’s broken into my home and tried to kill me?
When the police ask me later what I saw, what I knew, what happened, and why, I reply with the truth I’ve been given.
Malcolm shot the intruder.
Malcolm shot the intruder.
Jack had me repeat it, again, and again, and again, before the police and EMTs arrived. There needed to be a consensus among us. It was the only safe way to proceed.
Me: Malcolm shot the intruder.
Jack: Malcolm stepped to the landing and shot the intruder.
Malcolm: Yes, sir, I shot the intruder.
I don’t remember.
Three words, so simple, yet so duplicitous.
What is memory, anyway?
Echoes of reality twisted and molded into what we want to believe. What we want to remember. Our brains allow us grace to cope with trauma. They give us space to heal, to come to terms with our actions, our fears.
Couple extreme trauma with alcohol and the events blur.
How can I remember with exact precision my lassitude at the party, the stale macarons, the hard crystal flute against my lips, the floral tang of the champagne, getting into the car and divesting myself of my shoes, Jack’s kisses, light along my jawline, the gaping maw of the attic’s blackness, and not remember the exact moment I killed a man?
My Review: There are some fantastic things about this book - The setting is amazing and intriguing, the atmosphere is just the right amount of creepy and mysterious, the characters are eclectic and while not really likable none seem unredeemable. However there are also some flaws. The most prominent thing is the ridiculousness of some of the plot points. The book goes from a dark mystery where we are trying to unravel the truth about a ridiculously wealthy family to... well I'm not actually going to say because spoilers but I will say that some things happen that seem a bit too far fetched. I also didn't love the ending much. There were a couple things I liked about it but I just felt it could have been done better. It did keep me reading though so there is that.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All opinions are my own.*