Avid reader. Wild swimmer. Indie Author of The Sham. Collector of writing titbits (http://www.ellenallen.co) and all things bookish...
There’s a point in Sharp Objects when one of the characters, the youngest daughter of three, asks her mother which of her children she loves the most; she’s trying to assuage her fears that she can’t possibly be loved the best, that the first or second born must be the preferred children. Gone Girl is Gillian Flynn’s “third child”, her third book, and the best known and loved, but it’s Sharp Objects that does it for me.
I’ve been working my way through Gillian Flynn‘s back catalogue – Gone Girl then Dark Places – but Sharp Objects is definitely my favourite. A problem with writing horror/ thriller/ suspense, is that once the book barrels towards the end, you generally know who might be the killer and the book falls flat as the author ties up all the loose ends (and thrillers generally have tons of loose ends in explaining the hows, the wheres, the whys, etc.) This didn’t. Despite it being about the manhunt for the killer of two dead girls, it wasn’t an unrealistic gorefest. It was very menacing (listening to it in the dark in my bed meant on a couple of occasions I had to actually turn on the lights because I was a bit scared). A feeling that was only heightened by feeling completely sympathetic to the central character, a broken mess of a woman, whom I really cared about.
If you love sick, twisted thrillers, then her two other plots are great in their own rights but I think this one is more taut and the most sinister. Moreover, the way she writes about this f*$cked up, small town and its inhabitants who have been stewing for too long, is just fantastic. The descriptions of feelings, the people and their behaviour, puts her right at the top of her game: “There was nothing I wanted to do more than be unconscious again, wrapped in black, gone away. I was raw. I felt swollen with potential tears, like a water balloon filled to burst. Begging for a pin prick.”
A menacing, mesmerising thriller that I relished in the dark, that I didn’t want to end.