Book Review: Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens

Dark Roads  by Chevy Stephens Genre:  Thriller, suspense, serial killer fiction Synopsis:   The Cold Creek Highway stretches close to ...

Dark Roads by Chevy Stephens

Genre: Thriller, suspense, serial killer fiction

The Cold Creek Highway stretches close to five hundred miles through British Columbia’s rugged wilderness to the west coast. Isolated and vast, it has become a prime hunting ground for predators. For decades, young women traveling the road have gone missing. Motorists and hitchhikers, those passing through or living in one of the small towns scattered along the region, have fallen prey time and again. And no killer or abductor who has stalked the highway has ever been brought to justice.

Hailey McBride calls Cold Creek home. Her father taught her to respect nature, how to live and survive off the land, and to never travel the highway alone. Now he’s gone, leaving her a teenage orphan in the care of her aunt whose police officer husband uses his badge as a means to bully and control Hailey. Overwhelmed by grief and forbidden to work, socialize, or date, Hailey vanishes into the mountainous terrain, hoping everyone will believe she’s left town. Rumors spread that she was taken by the highway killer―who’s claimed another victim over the summer.

One year later, Beth Chevalier arrives in Cold Creek, where her sister Amber lived―and where she was murdered. Estranged from her parents and seeking closure, Beth takes a waitressing job at the local diner, just as Amber did, desperate to understand what happened to her and why. But Beth’s search for answers puts a target on her back―and threatens to reveal the truth behind Hailey’s disappearance…

Content/Trigger Warnings: abuse, death, murder, homelessness, manipulation, misogyny, sexual assault, child pornography, trauma, violence

Overall rating:  ★★★★☆

First of all, Dark Roads had me bored to tears for a large portion of the book. The parts I enjoyed the most were the prologue and epilogue, both of which were short but also immensely differed from the rest of the actual book. In fact, the book varied so much from start to finish, it left me feeling so aggravated throughout. The story is a bit ridiculous and over-the-top at parts that it’s totally cringeworthy.

Oddly, parts of the book reminded me of Twilight in a weird way - in my head, I was imagining Hailey as Bella and Jonny as Jacob, and the lake as the beach from the first Twilight. I don’t know - it’s just where my head went. I was also reminded very much of the tv series Big Sky, which has a lot of similarities to this book (specifically season 1).

I definitely thought the uncle, Vaughn, was written really well and horrifying. I hated any moment he was in the book, and that’s a credit to the author.

What I had an immense issue with is that the author was inspired by the Highway of Tears and the countless MMIWG who have seen no justice. But this isn’t about a First Nations character, though they are mentioned, and from what I can tell, Stevens is a white author. It feels problematic that she’s taking this thing that is primarily happening to a specific community and profiting from it. Yes, folks of all different races have gone missing from this specific stretch of highway in BC, but it’s undeniably a situation that is primarily happening to Indigenous women. I just don’t feel it was necessary for her to even mention her idea deriving from this situation if that’s not actually what the story is about. Maybe I’m feeling this because I read this book during Native American Heritage Month and was hyper-aware of the content, but regardless, I do think this book is problematic in and of itself just based off the inspiration.

Outside of the hugely problematic basis of the story, I also found that the pacing in this book was an issue for me. It was a slow, slow burn. One of the slowest burns I have ever experienced in my life. This book was at least 25% longer than it needed to be. There were some scenes that realistically could’ve been completely omitted and wouldn’t have changed the story at all.

Another thing I noticed was the inconsistency of the writing at times - some scenes were horribly graphic, while others felt completely skimmed over. It was just a weird mix of content. I honestly just felt like the book itself suffered from being so scattered. It felt all over the place.

I did really like Jonny’s character and Wolf, of course (who doesn’t love dogs??), but both Hailey and Beth seemed too obnoxiously over-the-top and unrealistic.

I know this book has rave reviews, but it was a pain to get through this entire book.

*I received a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.

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  1. Great reflection of much I was feeling about this book... thank you! Not to mention, the method of trying to make the actual perp seem the most unlikely... very predicted and found myself just waiiting for the "moment" I'd be right...