Review: ‘The Darkest Heart’ by Dan Smith

The Darkest Heart

‘There were times I felt I would always be death’s passenger. It moved one step ahead of me wherever I went, shading me from the world other people lived in.’ 

Dan Smith’s latest novel is set in deepest, darkest Brazil where shadows of every kind lurk, waiting to strike. The protagonist, Zico, is looking to leave behind a life of violence and death in order to live a ‘normal’ life with his girlfriend, Danielle. However, he is given one last kill which could net him everything he needs to start afresh. Throughout the novel, Zico struggles with the man he’s been his whole adult life and the man he wants to be.

Although I initially took a few chapters to become fully engaged with the characters, I became hooked by the narrative and was desperate to know how it would play out. The scenes on the river and at the mine featured fast-paced, heart-in-mouth action. Smith really evokes the setting with his detailed descriptions, as I was reading I could feel the cloying heat of the jungle.

Throughout the novel, the reader is drip-fed Zico’s backstory and that technique works very well, helping the reader understand how Zico became who he is. I really cared about the characters and completely understood the difficult position Zico had been put in. I was eager to find out how the dilemma could possibly be solved. The ending, for me, was satisfying but bittersweet. The evolution of the main characters was really realistic.

This is absolutely a novel worth sticking with!

Vic x


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