Dark August: About the Book
Augusta (Gus) Monet is living an aimless existence with her grifter boyfriend when she learns that her great grandmother—her last living relative—has just died. Ditching her boyfriend, Gus returns to the home she left as a young girl. Her inheritance turns out to be a dilapidated house and an old dog named Levi. While combing through her great grandmother’s possessions, Gus stumbles across an old trunk filled with long-lost childhood belongings. But that’s not all the trunk contains. She also discovers cold case files that belonged to her mother, a disgraced police detective who died in a car accident when Gus was eight. Gus remembers her mother obsessing over these very same documents and photographs, especially a Polaroid of a young ballerina.
When Gus spots a front-page news story about the unearthing of a body linked to one of the cold case files from her childhood trunk, she can’t resist following her mother’s clues. As she digs deeper, determined to finish her mother’s investigation, her search leads her to a deserted ghost town, which was left abandoned when the residents fled after a horrific fire. As Gus’ obsession with the case grows, she inadvertently stirs up the evils of the past, putting her life in danger. But Gus is undeterred and is committed to uncovering long-buried secrets, including the secrets surrounding a missing geology student, the young ballerina in the Polaroid, a prominent family’s devastating legacy, and a toxic blast that blew an entire town off the map.
But is Gus ready to learn the truths that culminated on one terrible August night, more than a decade earlier, when lives were taken, and secrets were presumed buried forever…?
Set mainly in Ottawa, “Dark August” is a complicated book about a complicated heroine. Gus is trying to find her place in the world after tragedy and loss left her abandoned in many ways. You end up rooting for Gus in spite of, or maybe because of her flaws. Although the character is young, she is an old soul. During the course of the book, she shifts from living an aimless existence, to one of purpose. That purpose is to solve the mystery of her mother’s death, but along the way she meets a compelling cast of characters. The more she discovers about her mother’s death and the events leading to it, the more uncertainty there is. Gus has to think the way her mother did and that stirs up a world of trouble.
Canadian Author, Katie Tallo knows how to pace a book and to build the story to a climax. The book is never slow – it has a well-developed plot, and Gus (and her mother) are well developed as characters. Gus uses her memories and pure detective work to find out the truth about her mother’s death. It’s almost like she is channeling her mother and trying to reconnect with her memory. Levi, the geriatric dog, humanizes Gus and adds some lightness to an otherwise dark story. It is thanks to the dog, that Gus finds the unconditional love that she is seeking. Levi, like all of the secondary characters is needed – they all serve to move the plot forward.
The last hundred pages of the book not only wrap up the action, but present so many twists and turns it is hard not to gasp out loud. You will get goosebumps at the end – that is how taut the story becomes. It will leave you breathless.
Favourite Line From the Book
“It was there, lying in her bed at school, facing the wall, head covered, that Gus learned to drop into the dark cave of her memories and lower herself deeply and fully into the past.”
This line was in the early pages of “Dark August”, but remained a consistent theme throughout the book.