Overall Grade: All the 5 ⭐️
Parker S. Huntington’s Darling Venom is one of my top ten reads of 2021. Easily. In fact, I inhaled her story shortly after receiving it, and I’ve been sitting on my review because there are no words to describe my feelings about Darling Venom because there are too many positive adjectives I could use to explain how much I felt loved and tortured by her book. If anything coherent comes out of this review, it should be that you should read it. Period. I would also like to say that there is power in publishing fewer books in a year. My experience as a reader has been more positive about books when the writer doesn’t churn out book after book in a given year. The best books I’ve read this year, one such as Darling Venom, were written by authors who didn’t aspire to a high book count but took their time, made their intention clear, and wrote a story that still sticks to my soul. Darling Venom has left this reader with a HUGE book hangover, to say the least. So let’s begin…
There is an interesting structure to Darling Venom. There are a variety of points of view, but Tate and Charlotte/Charlie figure in as the loudest voices. However, this story is about more than Tate and Charlie, so Huntington’s choices for this book, its narrative structure, are compelling. While we are talking about her story structure, let’s talk about Huntington’s prose. There are moments in this story when you find yourself agog at the language of it. To say that this is a highly quotable book is an understatement. I have highlighted the heck out of this book because Huntington’s capacity for stringing words together to form delicious morsels of truth is immense, and they cling to your soul like Saran-wrap to a bowl.
This is a book about trauma. How does one move beyond it? How does it write wounds onto your heart and soul, and how do you ever heal from it, forever leaving a scar behind? Tate and Charlie are left in limbo after a traumatic event. Each of them, however, approaches life in a different way. Initially, their lives look the same: they are trapped in the trauma, taking steps forward in life, but not living abundantly. When they encounter each other, it’s a trigger for action. One of them makes choices to heal, while the other one stays immobile, fighting for control over feelings. One of them challenges that control and recognizes the need to let go, while the other one fights to the bitter death to stay unfeeling. It’s this journey, this tug-of-war between the two that creates a compelling read in Darling Venom. Tate and Charlie are so complex in their characterization that you find yourself holding your breath that they will find a happy ending, but wholly prepared for the worst. There is a darkness that shrouds them from the beginning of the story through almost to the end that sometimes steals your breath. In fact, I’m fairly certain I turned pages while holding mine.
You should know…Darling Venom is a slow burn. It finds its steam, but that isn’t the purpose of this book, in my opinion. This story is meant to remind you about the scars left behind and our need to surpass them, to find greater meaning. By the end of this book, you have felt as though you’ve gone round after round in the boxing match. Yet, Huntington rewards you with the best ending. In fact, I pride myself in that I saw the secret of the book coming, but it wasn’t obvious and Huntington makes you wait to the very last page for its revelation.
That writing and publishing figure heavily into Darling Venom make it spectacular for this reader. The idea that a life is crafted on a page and used to help heal trauma is powerful. The mechanism of this in the story is the impetus for the resolution of tension in Darling Venom, and it feels like a meta-reflection on the power of writing.
I honestly could go on and on about Parker S. Huntington’s Darling Venom, but it will never do the book justice. Instead, grab a box of tissues, find a comfortable place to read, and lose yourself in this edgy, impeccable story about the choices we make in our lives and the power they hold over them. It’s about the idea that we can make the choice for something better at any point if we are simply brave enough to make this change. This is now the fifth book I’ve read from Huntington, and she will be a forever read for me.
In love and romance,