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Friday, February 14, 2020

New Psychological Thriller Whacked and Weird

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

In regards to Darling Rose Gold (available March 17, 2020), a debut novel by Stephanie Wrobel, I have just two words—messed up.  The book tells an odd, twisted tale about a mother and a daughter who are both, you guessed it, in need of some serious psychological help.  The only question is, who's the victim and who's the abuser?  Which one, if either, is telling the truth?

Because of a debilitating, but mysterious illness, Rose Gold Watts spent her childhood in hospital beds, doctors' offices, and isolated at home in her wheelchair.  She was kept out of school, separate from germy children, and away from anything that could potentially harm her.  Except for Patty Watts, her dutiful, much-pitied mother.  Turns out, it was never a disease causing Rose Gold's misery; it was Patty.

After serving five years in prison for child abuse, Patty still proclaims her innocence.  All she's ever wanted, she protests, is to take care of her daughter.  Having forgiven Rose Gold for testifying against her, Patty desires reconciliation.  Rose Gold, now a single mother herself, appears to want the same thing.  To everyone's shock, she invites Patty to live with her when she's released from prison.  Thrilled at the chance to get reacquainted with her daughter and newly acquainted with her grandson, Patty joyfully accepts.  It doesn't take long, though, for strange things to start happening.  Is Patty being paranoid, or is Rose Gold not quite as forgiving—or as weak—as she seems?

Like I said, this book is messed up.  I won't give anything away, but for me, it was pretty obvious what was going on from the get-go.  Most of the twists, therefore, didn't surprise me.  Nor did the finale, which just felt sad, depressing, and unsatisfying.  Despite all this, I have to admit that Darling Rose Gold is compulsively readable.  Even though I could tell where the story was heading, I still had to know if I was right or not.  It's just that kind of novel.  Overall, though, this book is just whacked and weird.  It turned out to be just an okay read for me.

(Readalikes:  I've seen Darling Rose Gold compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which seems apt.  It also reminds me of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and Broken by C.J. Lyons)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Darling Rose Gold from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
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