Apologies for not putting up any reviews lately. I plan to write one for every book I’ve read recently and post them over the next few days.
Dark Chapters was a work of fiction, but inspired and based on a harrowing event that happened to the author when she came to my own city and hometown, Belfast, Ireland. It isn’t going to be much of an admonishment for Belfast when I say this, but it’s where the author was attacked and brutally raped. Of Chinese-American decent, she was living in London when she was asked to go to Belfast to commemorate the Good Friday Agreement, the peace agreement that put an end to the period of civil war in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles. While visiting she decided to go for a hike and was raped during this. I’ve actually been to the area she was describing, not that I intend to go back anytime soon now that I’ve been reminded of what happened there.
The book works in alternate chapters, from the victim’s point of view and also the attackers. What struck me was the bravery the author displayed in recounting the most horrific event of her life, never mind also writing from the viewpoint of her attacker and trying to understand his warped mind.
Much of the first quarter concerns the authors career and home life. She then comes to Belfast where the attack happens and this and the aftermath make up the middle section. Finally (and as this incident is true I don’t feel like I’m heading into spoiler territory here) there is a trial (in Belfast), with the victim being forced to come back to Ireland once more.
The chapters were quite short and written in a dark and visceral style, if that makes sense. I felt really close to the action as it transpired, which was good, but considering the nature of the book I think there should have been a little more distance for the reader.
It’s certainly not a light read and I doubt I would have read it if it hadn’t been for the fact I’m doing research for my new novel. I’m glad I did, however, as it’s extremely well written and attests to the human spirit and what people can and do survive.