Cover Image: Flowers of Darkness

Flowers of Darkness

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to do a review on this book! I was very excited to review this book as I adored Sarah's Key. While I did enjoy the story it will not be considered a favorite. The storyline was very unique which I appreciated but it had so much going on that it didn't necessarily flow well in my mind. There were way to many side stories that really had little to no effect on the main plot. 

In this story, Clarissa, a bilingual author, lives in a dystopian Paris. The Eiffel Tower is no longer, there are no gardens, no bees, no fresh flowers. Clarissa is battling her own emotional feelings along with the feeling that something just isn't right with her new apartment. She is newly separated from her husband and lives with her cat, Chablis.  She is trying to figure out where she belongs after catching him doing some unthinkable things. She is trying to write another book, help her elderly father, entertain her young follower and keep from worrying her daughter. 

There were a few things I found weird in the story but I guess that is what makes it a dystopian story right? The heat wave in the city that was enough to destroy buildings and asphalt, as well as, a cat that enjoyed the shower both seemed strange to me. Never mind the oddity that was the random A.I. robots. 

The story was a bit predictable. I figured out the end near the beginning of the book. I was disappointed that Chablis was never more than a plain old house cat.  I was expecting more from that up until the end. I kept waiting for a the wow factor or AHA! moment of the book and never got that either.
Was this review helpful?
A fascinating tale in near-future Paris, de Rosnay brings the sense of place and atmosphere that she’s known for in spades.  I was utterly fascinated with this Paris of the future and in unraveling the multiple mysteries layered throughout the novel.

I was particularly absorbed by how this novel is so much like, and also yet so different from one of my favorite novels, de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key.  While Sarah’s Key takes us back to Paris of World War II, Flowers of Darkness takes us about 15-20 years into the City of Light to come, as de Rosnay envisions it.  

It is a world where an unnamed catastrophic event has decimated the city, as well as other national capitals, not to mention the decimation of the Earth’s climate due to global warming.  Yet, the main crux of the story centers around a mystery for the reader, as to why main character Clarissa recently left her husband of 20 years, along with a riddle that Clarissa is trying to solve for herself.

If I had a complaint about this tale, it would be that while intriguing, I didn’t feel like the story wrapped up all the loose ends by the conclusion; and the imaginative future that pulled me through the story with ease, didn’t wrap-up with an obvious lesson for the reader.

Yet, de Rosnay is an excellent novelist, who writes finely crafted and compelling prose that makes you think, and for that I do recommend Flowers of Darkness for anyone who enjoys a bit of spooky suspense or a touch of a post-apocalyptic future.

A big thank you to Tatiana de Rosnay, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for providing an advanced reader copy in exchange for this honest review.

Tatiana de Rosnay is the author of over ten novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sarah's Key, which has sold over 11 million copies in 44 countries worldwide.  Together with Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, and Stieg Larsson, she has been named one of the top ten fiction writers in Europe.

Flowers of Darkness is available February 23, 2021 in Hardcover, Audio CD, Audible Audiobook, and for Kindle.  Please consider buying from BookShop.org, the online bookstore that has donated over $8 million to independent bookstores since starting operation in early 2020.

#FlowersOfDarkness
#TatianaDeRosnay
#StMartinsPress
#NetGalley
#GeneralFiction
#WomensFiction
Was this review helpful?
This book just did not work. Too many unfinished stories and no characters with whom I could fully connect. Ms. De Rosnay has been hit and miss for me. I am always hopeful, but this is a miss.
Was this review helpful?
I was a fan of Tatiana De Rosnay ever since I read Sarah's Key. She is a fantastic author and she can write across many genres. This was a psychological thriller. I feel you should go into this with as little knowledge about the plot as possible, So I won't divulge anything.

This will give you chills. 

Absolutely suspenseful.
Was this review helpful?
I’m on the fence with this one. I’ve loved the authors previous work. This one has me, well, I don’t know. The last third or so went a little wonky. I don’t know if I would part of it is because I have been in the mood for lighter reads lately to escape 2020 or if it’s the book. I’ll revisit at a different time and also wait for some customer feedback. Could just be me and my mood
Was this review helpful?
I loved de Rosnay's previous book Sarah's Key so I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book. I started it right after I received it, but then had a highly stressful family emergency that required time off work for my own anxiety. My mind wasn't in a great place to concentrate on anything so I set it aside. Unfortunately when I tried to pick it back up, it gave me flashbacks of that stress. I decided to try again and I'm so glad I did. Though it's a completely different story than I expected, I found myself drawn in. Though the ending was disappointing, overall I did enjoy the story.
Thank you to Tatiana de Rosnay and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to review this book. I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The views and opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Was this review helpful?
If you haven’t read Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay, do it now! Then get ready for Flowers of Darkness. I love the setting of Paris, and the older woman as the main character. I’m not a huge fan of Artificial Intelligence that plays into the story because the building Clarissa moves into has a lot of high tech features which right away, gave me the creeps.

You can only imagine how all of the cameras/robots etc could lend a creepy feeling of always being watched. Perfect for a book, I’d hate it in real life!

Synopsis:

Author Clarissa Katsef is struggling to write her next book. She’s just snagged a brand new artist residency in an ultra-modern apartment, with a view of all of Paris, a dream for any novelist in search of tranquility. But since moving in, she has had the feeling of being watched. Is there reason to be paranoid? Or is her distraction and discomfort the result of her husband’s recent shocking betrayal? Or is that her beloved Paris lies altered outside her windows? A city that will never be quite the same, a city with a scar at its center?

Stuck inside, in the midst of a sweltering heat wave, Clarissa enlists her beloved granddaughter in her investigation of the mysterious, high tech building even as she finds herself drawn back into the orbit of her first husband who is still the one who knows her most intimately, who shares the past grief that she has never quite let go.

Staying true to her favorite themes—the imprint of the place, the weight of secrets—de Rosnay weaves an intrigue of thrilling suspense and emotional power.

Coming in February, get it here!
Was this review helpful?
I finally had the chance to read this book. Enjoyable, well thought out and I enjoyed the pace of the book.
Was this review helpful?
Clarissa Katsef is a bilingual writer of 67 years who has recently left her husband and begun living in an artists residency in Paris that is very modern and uses A.I. to help their residents make life easier. Or does it? Clarissa feels like she is being watched and listened to and begins to distrust the apartment. She confides in her teenage granddaughter and they start to question the intent behind the residency.

This felt almost like a modern (futuristic) gothic novel. Overall, I felt for the first 3/4, the thrills and suspense as well as emotions but the end just fizzled.  Therefore, because the end did not answer my questions or give any closure to the entire book, I can't say I was satisfied.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you so much for this ARC!

Wow, what a unique read. A bit of a slow start but once I hit the on boarding process of CASA, I was hooked! Could not wait to see how it played out and why Clarissa was chosen. 

It did take me a bit to understand this was set in the future. Once I did, it really made me start to question what life could be like - global warming, robots, etc. 

Great book!
Was this review helpful?
Clarissa seems to have found the perfect apartment as her first bold step in leaving her husband Francois after a stinging betrayal. It is in a newly completed building very close to the Eiffel Tower, which was destroyed in a terrorist attack some years ago. In this new building, she is accepted as a tenant under a program that allows a certain number of artists to live and work in the building for a discounted rate, under the agreement that they will be monitored at all times. 

Cameras are on and watching. An AI, which she ends up naming Mrs. Dalloway, will communicate with her and follow her commands, much like a futuristic version of our contemporary ‘Alexa.’ And ‘they’ -- whoever ‘they’ are -- will always be listening.

Soon Clarissa realizes that things are not as they seem in the building. While she tries to discover the truth about the new place she is living, she grapples with coming to understand her husband’s betrayal, as well as her own memories and grief. 

I really enjoyed some elements of this book, like the thoughtful, near-future imaginings which were brought to vivid life. Clarissa has sadly become accustomed to advanced global warming, which wreaks havoc on all facets of life, causing issues with everything from food production to air travel. And technology, including AI, has become invasive. I can’t go into this too much without spoilers, so I’ll just say that I thought the exploration of advanced technology and its ramifications on Clarissa and her husband were quite fascinating and interesting.

While this book does have subtle thriller elements, it reads more like literary fiction. It’s billed as a mystery & thriller, and I fear that may end up frustrating certain readers who are expecting something more taut and fast-paced. Don’t go into this expecting explanations for everything that happens, as you may be disappointed. This is much more a slow and dreamy meditation than a heart-pounding thriller.

I’d recommend this for someone who enjoys literary fiction with just a little pinch of thriller or sci fi mixed in.

Thank you #netgalley and @stmartinspress for the ARC of #flowersofdarkness !

I've posted about this once, and I'll share my review on my blog and social closer to the publication date.
Was this review helpful?
A super unique concept with excellent world-building.  Unfortunately, I couldn't connect with the main character and lost interest. DNF.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley for review.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book. The writing and characters were great the only thing that i didn’t like was the unfinished ending. Left more questions than answers. Was unfinished.

Thank you netgalley and publisher for letting me read this arc.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you, NetGalley for the ARC copy of this novel. When I saw this novel, I was elated especially after reading Sarah's Key. It took me a good number of pages to get into the Flowers of Darkness and it did not captivate me from page one as I hoped. I had to reread pages several times to understand what I was reading and where the story was going. The story seemed to go in too many directions and I didn't have a satisfying feeling of closure at the end.
Was this review helpful?
I have read several books by Tatiana de Rosnay and loved them since her book Sarah's Key.  

This is a bit of a departure for this author, in my opinion, but it is still very good. It took a while for me to really get hooked on Flowers of Darkness. But I hung in there, and eventually that moment came where I was so into this that I couldn't wait to get back to it. Go for this one, you will really enjoy it. 

Thanks very much to Net Galley and the publisher for a free e-copy in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Unusual book, read but not sure if I follow the story!   Finished but left questioning the book?  Really not sure of what I read?
Was this review helpful?
This was generally written well, but it did nothing to grab my attention. The synopsis was way more interesting than the actual book, and I did not finish.
Was this review helpful?
Flowers of Darkness is set in the near future Paris. Terrorism and climate change has greatly affected the city. We meet Clarissa, an older woman who has recently left her second husband after finding out about an affair. In the beginning Clarissa, an author, is looking for a new home and finds one in C.A.S.A., a new building for artists only. It's competitive to get in and she considers herself lucky to get a beautiful 8th floor apartment. 
 
Tatiana de Rosnay creates wonderful characters in Clarissa and those around her, her daughter, Jordan; her granddaughter Andy; her first and second husbands; and many others. When de Rosnay describes the surroundings, it is so easy to visualize, I love her descriptions. But I was less impressed with the story.  I was never quite sure where we were going. The AI and futuristic eeriness of the apartment that Clarissa inhabited and her depression dealing with the the loss of trust in her husband and loss of her son at birth all fight for domination in the story. I was very involved in the mystery of C.A.S.A. which fizzled at the end. 

Even though I was disappointed in the overall book, it did make me think about the future that we are rapidly approaching with AI and the effects of climate change.  Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
Was this review helpful?
An author who goes by her pseudonym Clarissa Katsef has left her husband after a shocking discovery and taken up residence in a newly built, modern apartment building catering specifically to artists. At first, installed on the upper floor with a wonderful view of Paris, Clarissa thrills in her new freedom and independence. But as she slowly comes to terms with how every move of hers is being surveilled by the cameras installed throughout her apartment, how her health is being monitored through daily check-ins and vitamins/supplements administered by the apartment's artificial intelligence system, which she has dubbed Mrs. Dalloway (the residents are allowed to choose their own AI's names), Clarissa finds herself unable to write, unable to sleep, and unable to figure out whom to trust.

As the story develops through the first 70%, it reads almost like a thriller...a literary(ish) novel of suspense, if you will, but whatever. Despite these pulls from the plot about the nefarious nature of the apartment, I never felt fully invested in Flowers of Darkness or Clarissa, namely because I couldn't decide how she was written. And I was very aware the entire time that she was a written character. What de Rosnay falls into is a lot of telling and not enough showing, particularly when she wants to express how Clarissa has come to a decision. These are simply done and relayed to the reader as though it were an item to be ticked off a grocery list. Check. Decision made. Easy peasy.

But alternatively, de Rosnay writes rather beautifully when relating Clarissa's passion around what she writes about and her two subjects on whom she has focused in the past, Virginia Woolf and Romain Gary. In particular, when Clarissa is speaking about the way she relates the houses in which these writers lived and its inhabitants. That is what connected her to writing and inspired her to begin writing in the first place — drawing a connection between houses and the people who occupy them.

Also, Clarissa is a true bilingual — having been raised speaking both French and English. She is experimenting with writing her newest novel in both languages — switching between them as she needs to for the right phrasing and as the mood strikes her. She discovers over some length of the novel, the other inhabitants of the apartment complex are also true bilinguals.

So thinking all this was leading directly into how Clarissa's house theory — this very deep emotional resonance she recognizes in homes — and the bilingual application of thought could apply to this ultra-modern, never-before-lived-in apartment that was constantly watching her and collecting information on her and her neighbors, I pushed through some of the blander sections. I also pushed past the name of the person who seemed to be heading up the C.A.S.A. residency, Dr. Dewinter. Now, de Rosnay is very clear on Clarissa's pseudonym and on Clarissa's choice for her apartment's AI, so I never had to really deal with those being obvious. But the text does mention that Clarissa briefly considered naming the AI Mrs. Danvers, which is the name of the obsessive maid in Rebecca, but Clarissa deems that to be a less than favorable choice (obviously) and chooses Mrs. Dalloway instead. So why does de Rosnay choose to drop the name Dewinter so heavily with no other acknowledgement at how similar and almost identical that name is to the husband's name in Rebecca — Max de Winter...de Winter? There was never a time when her name wasn't mentioned that I didn't roll my eyes — Dr. Dewinter.

However, once that 70% mark is passed...the novel takes a sharp turn into Absurdville. I have no idea how or why this novel ended the way it did, or included the reveals it did — but it felt so wholly like another book had been pasted to the end that I would've honestly questioned this if the character names hadn't been easy to spot and I had a print copy in hand rather than an electronic one. Not only that, but the build up that the first two-thirds gives amounts to almost nothing. I am so angry at and baffled by this book and its last act. I felt the only interesting and thoughtful parts were completely abandoned and left utterly unresolved.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC copy of this novel.   A unique novel that intrigued me from the beginning.  It will make you question the present and the future...what will our world be like in years to come.  A book that you will continue to talk about after the last page!
Was this review helpful?