Cover Image: Dark Circles

Dark Circles

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Member Reviews

I have been waiting for another ebook by this author since the first book yrs ago! I was so thrilled for this one! It didn’t disappoint! I am already set for another one to come out!! Couldn’t set this down read it in one day! LOVED IT!
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I really enjoyed how Dark Circles combined a cult, mysterious death, a true crime podcast, and a troubled celebrity to make a clever, twisty story. While the main characters weren’t necessarily likable, they made things interesting. Full of suspense and mystery, I could easily see this compelling story as a movie or tv series. 

I received an early copy of this book.
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Olivia is an actress with some issues and her assistant sends her on a retreat that is anything but. Olivia meets Ava who convinces her there may be a serial killer and so Olivia starts a podcast in real time to try and find answers.

The book is written in an interesting way - part story, part podcast even with fake ads to read. Overall, an intriguing story and mystery. The ending was slightly confusing to me and Olivia is not a very likeable character. I’m not convinced everything was fully explained and tied together in the end. However, I did enjoy this book and would try others by this author.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy via NetGalley.
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Dark Circles is one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time! I loved the storyline of a struggling actress going on a retreat where she discovers young women have tragically been killed. It’s the perfect amount of suspense and twists! I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to read more by the author.
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I read this one based on the strength of the author’s We Went to the Woods. Didn’t really like this novel as much, but to be fair, I liked the other one a lot.
This one…well, first off, the writing’s great. That might be the star of the show here. This is an author who knows how to write a thriller that’ll stand out in the sea of oh-so-many similar ones. It’s exciting, dynamic, character driven.
The character who drives it is a TV starlet named Olivia/Liv. She’d found her fame through a CW show guided the entire way by a pushy friend/manager and orbited by an inept munch of a father. And then she had a meltdown, because that’s the path of celebrity and so she gets sent to a fancy facility that is less rehab and more…cult.
With focus on clean living, meditation, etc. it seems like just another one of those obnoxious New Age places, but something isn’t quite right – like, there are entirely too many young women associated with the place who get found dead.
Liv decides to investigate and, because she’s such a hip bunny, she decides to do it podcast style. A true crime podcast by a celeb done in real time engaging the readers to not only listen but participate in the investigation – woohoo, Liv’s gonna get famous. Again. 
Though, to be fair, it won’t be easy. These are not the people who take kindly to prying. And so it goes. Intrigue, suspense and oodles of drama.
In fact. The balance here is heavily on the dramatic side, which I normally like – makes it more literary, but it does slow the narrative down. In fact, this book might have done with some streamlining; it’s quite long, but then again, that might be a personal preference. 
Overall, it works and it entertains. Some nice plot twists too. For fans of slow, thinking, dark psychological thrillers. Thanks Netgalley.
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The first thing that entranced me about Dark Circles by Caite Dolan-Leach was the cover. It's such an alluring mix of blues and greens, so I was dazzled. Also, I liked the concept of the book in that an actress that gets engaged in a few personal missteps in her life ends up in a rehab, which isn't really a rehab, but more like a spiritual center. 

But starlet Olivia Reed soon learns not everything is as it seems at the center, especially when she befriends an on-and-off patient who lives in the area. From this point, she tries to find out what's at the center of the center through a podcast. 

In the beginning, I was drawn into the story. I liked the main character who seems plucky, interesting, and smarter than everyone thinks. The inner look at the center felt interesting, particularly when you get deeper into the story. How Hollywood treats young actresses with the roller coaster ride of highs and lows receives an exploration as well.

I quickly realized, though, that this may be more of a companion book to one of the author's other novels, Dead Letters. One of the characters of this book played a prominent role in Dark Circles, so I was concerned that I may have ruined that other book for myself. 

Towards the middle to the end of the book, I started tiring of the story. There are a lot of interesting developments with the center and their true purposes, but I figured out one of the character's supposedly hidden motives early on. So, once I reached the climax, I just wanted to move on to the end.

I will say that even though I wasn't totally enamored of the book, the first half really intrigued me, so I definitely wanted to read her other books. Her characterizations were good, but there may have been a few loose ends that I wanted wrapped up a little differently. My main problem is that I still wonder if I should have read the other book prior to this one.
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Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

Olivia (Liv) Reed is an actress who appears to be having a serious meltdown. She's been the star of a tv show for about 3 seasons and has been having a tumultuous, on and off relationship with her co-star. While it's been "off," she has a very public meltdown, and is convinced by Jessica, her manager/assistant/best friend to go for a "spiritual retreat" to calm down and try to save her public image and her career. She winds up at the House of Light, chosen by Jessica, and is managing to enjoy the yoga/meditation/working in the garden vibe, although she has some serious cell phone/internet withdrawal.

She then meets Ava, a local resident who comes to the House of Light periodically to dry out. Ava is convinced that her sister was murdered, and that other women are being killed. She is convinced that all are tied to the House of Light, and soon Liv starts to believe that there may be something there. Suddenly, she gets kicked out of the House of Light - but rather than heading back to New York City, she stays in town to investigate and almost immediately manages to set up a podcast chronicling her investigation. There's an apparent murder attempt on Liv, and multiple threats to go public with her big secret, which she disclosed during her "therapy" sessions.

OK, a fast ride, and certainly an enjoyable read. But, I ended with so many questions. Why did so many characters get pulled in, for no apparent reason? Didn't see any need for her father's brief appearances, or for the wandering plot line about her missing mother. Why pull in the detective - he really didn't seem to add much to the plot. I really kept waiting for a number of these tangential characters and wandering plot lines to resolve or to have some relevance, and they just....ended.

So, I enjoyed reading the book - it flowed, there was certainly action. At the end, though, I was left a bit unsatisfied and wondering "wait a minute, what just happened here?"
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Liv is an actress in need of a life overhaul. Her life is unraveling in front of everyone thanks to her paparazzi assigned to following her. Her manager, Jess, finds a new age "rehab" of sorts to help Liv realign her life and career. The House of Light is well know to the locals; most were a part of the Light at some stage of their life in the area. As Liv starts her journey at the Light, she meets Ava, another local staying at the Light searching for her own answers and spiritual enlightenment. As Liv's stay begins, a woman is found in the lake on the property. And this isn't the first one. Liv begins her journey to find out about these women and finds herself looking very close to her own life as well. 
Told from Liv's point of view and as a podcast script, Dark Circles by Caite Dolan-Leach is a suspenseful tale of "who done it". Dolan-Leach captured my attention in the first chapter and kept it the entire story. I will be recommending Dark Circles to my book loving friends and would love to read more by Dolan-Leach in the future. Special thanks to NetGalley, Caite Dolan-Leach, and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Books for the advanced digital copy in exchange for my honest opinion. 
#DarkCircles #NetGalley
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I was very interested in this book and hooked from the start and yet it took me a very long time to read.  From the book description I was expecting more of a mystery, but I would consider this book to be closer to the fiction genre.  I liked Liv but was not a fan of her acting out parts that she thought others were expecting from her.  As time goes on this part of her seems to drop away and I found I liked her even more.  She ventures into the podcast without all the answers and while this is scary and makes her vulnerable to failure, she continues on.  I never saw the twist coming at the end, so bravo for that.  

Thank you @randomhouse for gifting me this book!  Overall I enjoyed the story, but for me it lacked the constant search for the answers which I think is what kept stalling my reading progress.  I did really enjoy the sections that were podcast style.
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Omg I devoured this book!!!! So good. Haha to the publisher for the ARC.
I highly recommend this book!
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I hate to leave feedback on a book that I didn't finish but I just couldn't get into this one. I am about 30% through the story and I have no desire to go back and finish it at this point. The main character is likeable enough but I just felt that the story dragged. There are little nuggets of the mystery fed to you from various points of view but it wasn't enough to hold my interest. I will update if I end up finishing it. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC.
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What a perfect plotline for a book: A B-list celebrity checks into a cult like rehab center and finds out several female participants have died. Now she just needs to figure out how and why they have died and report it through her new podcast. 

I really liked this book when it was good and suspenseful, but the in-between parts just couldn't keep me interested. It became a little too monotonous in the slow sections. 

Thanks Netgalley and publisher for the digital copy in exchange for my honest review!
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Dark Circles’ plotline was interesting. Olivia is an actress who has found herself in a bit of a pickle. After a very public, very drunken/drug-fueled temper tantrum, her manager/best friend has decided to send Olivia to a retreat to sober up and maybe come to terms with what set her off. The treat is in Western NY, called House of Light, and seems to be where Olivia can sober up. But, on the first day, two things happen. One: Olivia meets a local who insists that the HoL is behind several suicides/murders in the area. Two: A body washes up on the retreats beach, and it is a former retreat member. Becoming intrigued with the unsolved murders/suicides, Olivia starts a podcast. But, as she goes down the rabbit hole, Olivia becomes obsessed. When she finds a connection between her missing mother and HoL, Olivia starts questioning everything she has been told. But the truth is more terrifying than Olivia knows. What is the truth?

I was not too fond of Olivia at first. She was self-absorbed and couldn’t care less about her harm to other people. Her public meltdown in Manhattan showcased that. She was also reckless and didn’t think things through, which was shown repeatedly during her investigation into the HoL. But, I did start to like her after the first few chapters. She went from what I thought would be a 2-dimensional character to a fully fleshed-out character.

I also liked the secondary characters in Dark Circles. They were a perfect blend of creepy and quirky. They also added that extra oomph that rounded out the book.

I liked that the author chose to incorporate the podcast into the story. From the cheesy ads (don’t we all love listening to those, lol) to the comments after each episode. I loved how they tied into the main storyline. This, too, added an extra depth.

The storyline with the HoL and the murder/suicides was wonderfully written. I was kept on the edge of my bed (because I read Dark Circles in bed). I did not expect it to go the way that it did. The twist in that plotline made my mouth drop.

The secondary plotline with Olivia’s mother was sad. I had a feeling about what was going to be revealed. But the author did an excellent job at distracting me from figuring it out until the end of the book.

The end of Dark Circles was your typical mystery ending. Everything was wrapped up and explained.

I would recommend Dark Circles to anyone over 16. There is violence, language, non-graphic sexual situations, and drug/alcohol use.
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I so badly wanted to like this book. I've enjoyed the author's other novels, but this felt a bit too slow and quiet to truly be a thriller. It's almost as though the book didn't know what it wanted to be.
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If you like books with a "can't trust anyone" feel and mysteries about cult-like situations, this should be right up your alley. The story was engaging once I got into it, but it was longer and more drawn out than I expected. The twists at the end were unexpected and fitting, making for a solid ending.
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I read two thirds of this book before setting it aside. Too much circling and not enough forward movement. I think the author is trying to build suspense but all I get from it is that Olivia is a self-centered person. But she is an actress and so of course she is. So what? Get on with the story already.
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Dark Circles is a hard to put down thriller about celebrity, cults and murder.

Olivia has hit rock bottom. She was in a good relationship with her costar on a popular TV show, but she cheated on him with the director. After an "incident" with paparazzi, her best friend and manager Jess sends her to the House of Light. It's not a traditional rehab clinic, but a place where attendees practice yoga, attend group therapy sessions and eat macrobiotic food. 

But Liv's next door neighbor at the House of Light, Ava, is convinced that something nefarious is going on at the Center. When Liv begins to investigate, she sees things that unsettle her, and gets kicked out. She contacts an old friend and begins a podcast about women who attended the House of Light and died by suicide or accident. The podcast brings up old wounds about her mother, who left without warning when she was a teen, and leads Luv to reexamine her life and her relationships.

Like any good thriller, there is a gasp-worthy twist or two. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and loved the format with podcast episodes scattered through the story.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy of this book.
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A young rebellious celebrity, Olivia, goes to a spiritual center to  ground/center herself. The House of Light, doesn't seem to be anything like the other spiritual centers she has gone to in the past. Seems to be a cult and there are unexplained suicides. Olivia starts a podcast. I love Olivia's wisecracking, straight talking character. She is the reason in my opinion that this book is as interesting as it is.
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Actress Olivia Reed makes headlines for the wrong reasons, most recently a drunken meltdown in a Manhattan street in front of the apartment of her married lover—who is also the director of her most recent project.

Jessica Meisner, Liv’s manager and closest, oldest friend, arranges for Liv to attend The House of Light, a retreat nestled in the Finger Lakes wine country. With no cell phones, computers, or televisions, guests, provided with organic meals and a strict schedule including group discussions and yoga, can focus on spiritual healing—on finding the light. 

Only a few days into her stay, Olivia sees a flurry of activity at the lakefront and learns that a young woman died by suicide. Ava, a local who comes to the retreat regularly, suggests that this isn’t the only suicide linked to The House of Light. She’s been researching the organization and the dead women, but all her accusations have been dismissed. 

After Ava piques her curiosity, Olivia decides she can use her resources—namely, a platform arising from fame and an ability to shift into multiple roles—to take over Ava’s investigation and turn it into a true crime podcast. Working with a private investigator who has a history with her family, Liv finds scared witnesses, obstacles, and dead ends, further strengthening her belief that the House of Light is a dark place indeed.

While the retreat is completely fictional, if it existed, it would be within two or three miles of my house. I loved all the local references—very accurate because the author grew up in the area! The book includes excerpts from Liv’s podcast as well as introduces the theme of true crime consumption. Liv was also excellent at slipping into whatever identity was most useful to her—but perhaps at personal cost. This is not even to mention the culture of cults that runs through the book.

DARK CIRCLES could be the result of a hybridization of This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel and If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier. Check it out if you like true crime stories, novels about cults, or books set in the Finger Lakes!
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A young and quickly famous actress is on the spiral down (I pictured Lindsey Lohan for this character). Her publicist sends her to a retreat to cool her jets and find her real self again. But as soon as Olivia, or Liv, arrives, she becomes suspicious about a history of women who have disappeared from the retreat over the years. Liv teams up with another client, Ava, (who should have a book all to her own, given her unique character and lifestyle) and they become detectives on a mission.
It seems that no one can be trusted; everyone has an ulterior motive, and the people who run the “Circle of Light” are versed in double-speak. As the days go by, Liv realizes her safety isn’t a given, and she needs to start watching her back. 
Through a series of staying in different places, leaving no trace, and finding one reliable person for a chauffeur, Liv rises above her past weaknesses and starts a podcast to expose the suspicious operations at the retreat. But publicity really brings the dogs out. Not only is Liv struggling to find out what happened to the victims of “The Circle”, but she’s also trying to stay alive between episodes.
This is a quick-paced and tense story based on a premise that is easy to believe. Caite Dolan-Leach has created some colorful characters; some we like, some not so. Grab a copy and enjoy!
Sincere thanks to Random House- Ballantine for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date is May 10, 2022.
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