Daisy Darker, the protagonist, is born with a broken heart. And now, she has come over to her Nana’s house, Seaglass, for her eightieth birthday which also doubles up as a family reunion. Her estranged family, which includes her parents who are divorced, her two elder sisters and her niece all land up at Seaglass one after another. Seaglass is an old house on the Cornish coast, on an isolated island at the bottom of a cliff that’s only accessible at low tide. As the night progresses, Nana lays out her feast and reads out her will, which displeases all of them. Soon, someone is found dead. This is followed by more murders with every passing hour. Nobody is able to leave the house till sunrise because of the high tide. Everyone who hasn’t been murdered is frantically trying to save themselves whilst also trying to find out the killer.
The above plot does seem very intriguing and has been written in a gripping manner. However the climax is a major letdown. Honestly it’s laughable and extremely frustrating. The explanation for all the killings is so simplistic and so juvenile that you end up feeling exasperated for the author having wasted your time. How is this book even a best-seller? Who are these people who are liking this idiotic mystery?
This book is supposed to be a thriller. Instead, it’s weird and atrociously lengthy. I was thrilled that, the writer decided to stop writing and finished the book. The book is about a Black girl, Nella Rogers, working in an all white publishing house, Wagner Books, in Manhattan. Being the only Black person at her workplace, she constantly faces racist micro aggressions on a daily basis. However, when another Black girl, Hazel, joins Wagner Books, things start going askew for Nella. Hazel’s popularity keeps growing as she befriends all the white people at the workplace including Nella’s boss. At the same time, Nella starts receiving mysterious notes asking her to leave Wagner. Nella finds herself in this emotional and social conundrum, wherein she needs to unearth Hazel’s true intentions whilst making a desperate attempt to safeguard her job and relationships.
As much as the author tries earnestly to have a very nuanced social commentary on the realities of Black people; the racism and bigotry being a part of their everyday lives; it all gets muddled in the tedious and slow paced narrative. Nothing worthwhile happens till about 300 pages. Then suddenly, we readers are rushed into a chaotic, insipid climax which honestly I didn’t even understand. The book has other subplots too, which are abruptly abandoned. Yes, the book celebrates Black culture and language in all its glory. Yes, it’s heartening to see Black women to be the protagonists of a book. But, where is the story? Where was the editor? After reading the book, I was wondering, if I was missing something, since online reviews for this book by leading media agencies have been stellar. Later, upon reading countless reviews by Black readers, especially women, who have shared similar opinions as to mine, I decided to write this.
Interestingly, if we were to reimagine this book in an Indian context, and have a Dalit-Bahujan protagonist, the similarities would be uncanny.