Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: The Dark Rose

The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly

Publication Date: February 2, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Thriller
Pages: Hardcover, 324pp
ISBN-13: 978-0670023288
ISBN: 0670023280

(Received for an honest review from Pamela Dorman Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Erin Kelly on the WEB: website, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from The Dark Rose


Nineteen year old Paul sits in a stark interview room across from two police officers.

He wants to crack, to tell them everything, but a paralyzing combination of terror and loyalty silences him. What has started as a petty theft turned into a grisly murder, and now Paul must bear witness against his friend and childhood protector to avoid prison.

Louisa's own dark secrets led her to flee a desperate infatuation gone wrong many years before. Now she spends  her days steeped in history, renovating the grounds of a crumbling Elizabethan garden. But her fragile peace is shattered when she meets Paul; he's the spitting image of the one person she thought she'd never see again.

These two, scarred and solitary, begin a secret affair. Louisa starts to believe she can find happiness at last. But neither of them can outrun is violent past. 

A story of secrets and guilt, The Dark Rose explores the extremes of obsessive love and loyalty, devotion and desperation. Like Kelly's critically acclaimed debut novel, The Poison Tree, this fantastically creepy, atmospheric novel thrills until the final shocking moments. 


Erin Kelly's second novel, The Dark Rose is a a psychological thriller and a romance wrapped into one. Kelly explores the theme of obsession, the darker side of desire and how the past always catches up with you in the end. Readers who are interested in a suspenseful tale that slides through time with ease will love this one. Kelly's ability to create characters that are mysterious yet identifiable is well showcased here and readers will resonate with both Louisa and Paul for different reasons.

Kelly gives readers a lead couple that is quite different from the norm. Paul is young man not yet out of his teens while Louisa is practically twenty years older. Both share some dark secrets in their past and drawn to each other. Kelly doesn't set their relationship up as a cougar looking for a younger man. There is something about Paul that gets to Louisa. He reminds her of a former lover the disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The resemblance alone was enough to bring them together, but eventually they realize that maybe it would have been better if they had never gotten together. The past doesn't seem to stay buried for long.

Louisa's character was definitely an interesting sort. What kind of person would completely seclude themselves from the outside world. I knew there had to be more to Louisa's story. She was kind of cagey. Hard to pin down, not exactly obsessive about her garden but extremely devoted. There were just things about her persona that key the reader in to Louisa's secrets. I liked the fact that the author doesn't hit the reader over the head with the obvious, she allows the reader to make their own conclusions about the characters, she just kind of guides them along.

Paul was a little more predictable. Maybe even a little more understandable. Paul having lost his father at a young age, was seeking something. That feeling of belonging and having someone to take care of him. He found that in Daniel his friend and protector, but when Daniel starts to involve him petty crime and other less than legal pursuits, Paul can't seem to extricate himself. He doesn't want to turn against his friend, but when things got too much he had to turn him in. I liked that he finally stood up and said no. Kelly gives Paul this bad boy attitude, that he lives up to in his own way.

Both characters are hiding in a sense. They both obviously have co-dependence issues and they are both maybe a little left of center. Unique and different. I think the character development was a real strength with this novel as was the setting. I liked the whole idea of the garden restoration and it was obvious that the author did a lot of research and knew her business. I found that whole part fun to read and learn about.

Overall this is a very taut book that holds the reader in a grip much like pulling a bow string. The characters are excellently portrayed and the idea of dark desires plays out throughout the book. Kelly is able to shift time and viewpoints in the name of a good story and pull it off with flying colors. I admit to being a little confused in the beginning but eventually I got used to the authors style and really enjoyed the read. This is a good fit for mystery and thriller fans and could even strike a cord with romance fans. Definitely, a keeper!

The Dark Rose is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Erin Kelly is the author of the acclaimed thriller, The Poison Tree. She has worked as a freelance journalist for thirteen years, writing for The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph, as well as, for Glamour (UK) and Elle (UK) magazines. She lives in North London with her family. 

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