Dark Chapter – Winnie M Li

Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel. Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society.

On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence.

In the aftermath, each is forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack.

Inspired by true events, this is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives

My Review:  Seriously I really don’t think anything I have to say here does this book justice and I don’t want to give this book the usual “riveting, gripping, page-turning” review because this is a book that everyone needs to read.

Dark Chapter is based on a true story and inspired by the authors own sexual assault and therefore every word written is brutal, raw and harrowing.  Often when I write reviews I might refer to the characters or the twists or the atmosphere, but Dark Chapter is a book that doesn’t require any of that in my opinion.  This is a book that evoked powerful feelings from the opening page to the final chapter.

How did it make me feel?  Well simply put I think I felt too many emotions to list them all.  Firstly when reading Vivian’s side of the story I was shocked, horrified, scared, traumatised and angry for her and with her throughout her story.  Because the book is based on Winnie’s real life attack I knew that Vivian’s emotions and responses were real and that made everything raw.  Her bravery in telling this story and making the reader feel her pain and horror is incredible and so intimate that you are able to feel everything Vivian’s experiencing.

Reading Johnny’s version of the events made me sick to my stomach, angry and ashamed that there are people in the world who think this behaviour is acceptable or normal.

There is very little I can add to this review except that it is a very brave and brutal story based on true events.  A powerful and harrowing book which I know will stay with me for a very long time.

About the Author: Winnie M Li is a writer and producer. A Harvard graduate, she has written for travel guide books, produced independent feature films, programmed for film festivals and developed ecotourism projects. After graduating with Distinction in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, she now writes across a range of media (including the Huffington Post), runs arts festivals, and is a PhD researcher at LSE. Winnie lives in London, yet is somewhat addicted to travel.

Dark Chapter is her debut novel, published in June 2017 by Legend Press, and is inspired by her own sexual assault in 2008. It takes the unique perspective of both the survivor and the perpetrator and explores how the assault effects the lives of both.

Read more from Winnie M Li:

The Irish Times: click here

The Guardian: click here

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