Sixteen-year-old Sayers Wayte has everything—until he’s kidnapped by a man who tells him the privileged life he’s been living is based on a lie.
Trapped in a windowless room, without knowing why he’s been taken or how long the man plans to keep him shut away, Sayers faces a terrifying new reality. To survive, he must forget the world he once knew, and play the part his abductor has created for him.
But as time passes, the line between fact and fiction starts to blur, and Sayers begins to wonder if he can escape . . . before he loses himself.
ALL THE STARS!!!!
OMG! Prepare yourself for a long and probably disorganized review because I am BURSTING with so many thoughts right now! #sorrynotsorry
To give you an idea, I took 19 pages of notes while reading… 19!
That story gave me so many thoughts and feelings I needed to write them. Also I literally couldn’t stop reading once Sayers had been abducted. I finished my read in the evening, heart thudding, shoulders aching for having been tense all the time and looking like a sad panda as I had bawled like a baby the last 30% of the book!
That story was INTENSE!
OK let’s backtrack now that this is out of my chest.
I had read A List of Cages, Robin’s first novel, years ago, influenced by so many of you and it made it to my “best books of the year”.
I then waited to see what Robin Roe would publish next. And waited. And waited…
Until one day Robin reached out to me and asked if I was interested in getting an ARC of her next book.
I was stunned that she remembered me, flattered, humbled but above all else, very enthusiastic!
I dove into Dark Room Etiquette head first and nearly blind.
I knew it was about kidnapping and survival of course but I had NO IDEA of what awaited me!
First, the prologue was excellent. We get a whiff of what is awaiting Sayers and it instantly gives a dread feel to the book.
Then the first chapters give us an idea of who Sayers is before being kidnapped.
And let me tell you that at first glance, Sayers was NOT the kind of hero that I usually love!
It’s not that he was intrinsically bad but more that he was so oblivious of his actions or non-actions that were hurting people that I was…flummoxed and outraged! I simply thought that Sayers was a little pr!ck.
Yet, knowing this was Robin’s story, I couldn’t help thinking, or maybe hoping, that he would have a hell of a growth.
And it wasn’t as if people didn’t try to show the way to Sayers, like his friend Luke or Mr. Rivas, his Latin teacher, telling him wisely : ““What I’m trying to say is having money doesn’t mean you should do nothing—it means you can do anything.”
But I think Sayers was so wealthy he was bored. And he had such freedom from his parents that he felt adrift, present yet not. And when teenagers are bored, they make bad decisions or make bad friends.
And then, one day, the kidnapping happens.
That’s where I stop with the plot as I don’t want to spoil anything.
From that moment on, Sayers’s transformation is chilling!
What follows is a hell of a psychological thriller dissecting all that you would do or rather what your mind would do to survive! It had me on pins and needles, horrified more than once!
I can’t count the time I thought: “Oh no Robin, don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this to me!” Yet she did. Never did she shy away from a difficult scene to hit us in the chest with the feelings, the dread, the tension, the horror but also… the hope.
Robin did an amazing job showing us mind manipulation and all the strong and mixed feelings someone can have for his captor.
If she showed us the victim’s POV in “A List of Cages”, we will now see through the criminal’s eyes. And having a peek at his past, at his ordeals make it hard to totally hate him. Because at the end of the day, even the worse criminals have a past, a story. And if it will never excuse what they did, it will create some empathy with them as fellow flawed human beings, hence generating conflicted emotions, just like what happened to Sayers.
I could truly go on and on about that story (19 pages of notes remember?) but I’d just like to say that Robin crushed my heart, ground it in a fine powder, sent my blood pressure through the roof and had me depleting my provision of tissues. I left that story exhausted and dazed. I also couldn’t help but hope for Sayers.
If you are a fan of very intense psychological thrillers, or even a fan of “A List of Cages” go for it! I promise you will thank me!
Just be aware that there are many triggers and sensitive topics in that book!
Also, I would like to thank Robin, from the bottom of my heart, not only for offering me that early copy (and I promise it had no influence on this review) but also for being my buddy reader, even if she didn’t plan for it!
I told you I needed to write my thoughts while reading well, I couldn’t help message Robin all along with my reactions because I NEEDED to vent! And she gamely and very patiently listened to all of my rambling 😉
Also, a last thank you Robin for accepting to be interviewed! I am leaving the link to the interview here: https://www.bewareofthereader.com/scoop-interview-with-robin-roe-new-star-of-the-ya-dark-psychological-thrillers/
And to conclude (I know, I know, this is loooong) I will leave you with this excerpt from Robin’s notes at the end of the story:
“And it means reminding ourselves that no matter what’s happened to us, we still have the capacity for so much joy—because there is always a way out of a dark room.”
PS: Robin, I would love a big epilogue one day… maybe like a Christmas gift??
Thanks for reading!