top of page

Twofer Review: Dark Room Etiquette (possible spoilers)

Title: Dark Room Etiquette

Author: Robin Roe

Read by: Andrew J. Andersen

Audiobook Length: 12 hr. 15 min.

Get the Audiobook here!

Get your physical copy here!

Spec Spot


I, Paula, am very excited about this review, because I'm not doing it alone! My husband, who is not a huge reader, wanted something to listen to on his commute between work and home and this is the thing he chose! Of course, that means I need his brilliant insights on it, right? But then he was so intent on talking about it with someone who had also read the book, so he made me move it up on my TBR as soon as he finished it and so, here we sit, putting together a "twofer" review of his and hers thoughts and opinions of this book! His thoughts and opinion will be in the brown "His" section and mine will be in the dark teal "Hers" sections. Also, I've kept the synopsis spoiler free and tried to indicate when any big spoilers are coming in the review in case you want to avoid them. Enjoy!

What's it about:

Sayers Wayte (Say as his friends call him) is privileged,rich and a little spoiled. In short, he's an entitled 16 year old boy with a knack for languages but little motivation to prove what his best in anything is. And while, he doesn't lead the way, her certainly doesn't protect the little guys from bullying, even when he doesn't agree with the bullying.

Then one day after being reprimanded for bullying one particular student, Evan, he invites himself on a field trip with his best friend, a field trip he won't come home from. That night, instead of sleeping in his own bed, he finds himself chained to the bed in a child's room by a big man who he's never met who seems strong and stern but doesn't exactly jump at the chance to hurt Say. Over the course of months, Say is forced to survive in the man's locked up home with nothing but hope and dreams of finding his family again.

But, sometimes dreams aren't what you imagined and when Say miraculously finds himself back home after almost a year, he finds that he has a whole other set of challenges to over come, challenges he never saw coming.

Her Favorites:

Favorite Character: Evan. I never disliked him, but when we got to "after" part, after Say returns home, Evan became the character who stole my heart. He shows a strength, a level of forgiveness and kindness that makes his humour and his being that much better.

But, before that, I was convinced that "No eyebrows" as Say calls her, was going to be my favorite for standing up to him when he needed it.

Favorite Character: Garrett. Yes, I know that the kidnapper should absolutely be my least favorite but the amount of dislike I had for Garrett was so extrema, when talking to my husband, I would even refer to him by his name by by "DC Fleet" (Douche Canoe Fleet). I get that other people had done more visual damage then him, but his motives just made me want to smack him until he bled. He was entitled, selfish, cruel, uncaring and happily stepped on the little people to make himself feel better and for his own amusement. He knew he was hurting people and didn't care. He didn't try to stop or repair any of the damage he did, he just kept going. Maybe he hadn't done a lot of physical damage (compared to others in the book) yet, but he was sure on his way to belonging in a jail cell.

Favorite Part: EIn the dinner, before Say is abducted when the amazing waitress Say refers to as "no eye brows" pies say for being an entitled jerk. I laughed so hard and may have even cheered. Look, I know that Say is the main character and that we should be on his side, but, really, it took a long time for me to like Say through the entitled brat attitude he had going for him.

Favorite Character: GI know this is going to be unexpected, but I'm going to say the meteor shower. {Spoilers ahead} I know that that's the time Say is freed but not only is the means of such traumatizing, I also felt like when Caleb dies, it's the death of justice and getting answers which I desperately wanted. {end spoiler}

His Favorites:

Favorite Character: Evan. Evan is a character that, despite being faced with adversity, still rises to the occasion to help those in need and I find that very admirable.

Least favorite Character: Jack, Say's father. He's an absentee parent who, no matter what happens, seems to fail if it's not all about him to the point of encourages his son to lie on his behalf in order to woo women.

Favorite Part: The scene later in the book where, for no reason in particular, to celebrating the accomplishment of a young boy in facing one of his biggest fears. It's a wholesome character building moment for our protagonist and it really helps show that despite of everything the world can still be a good place to be.

Least favorite part: Anytime we are taken on a trip to the cellar, not because these parts are poorly written but because they are expertly written to make you feel as uncomfortable as the character experiencing them.

Her Other thoughts:

There are a lot of things I could say about this story, I don't even know where to begin. When I first started the book, I was a little confused. I couldn't figure out why in the world my husband wanted me to read a book about entitled rich kids who thought they were above ...well...pretty much anything. I mean, Say threw a Homecoming after part and had an elephant for goodness sakes! I even went so far as to wonder if it was going to be like a Saw there where the point of the kidnapping was to make Say see how lucky he was. Spoiler alert: It's not. BUT by the end of the book, I liked Say. Not because he had changed but more becuase he was more authentic and less concerned with the money that he thought made him something special.

As someone who loves psychology, I LOVED the fact that the story doesn't stop when Say is no longer in captivity. I loved that we get to see how everyone copes and handles the situation. Though, I don't love or condone the way his parents responded, but I do like the mentality that each of the characters where dealing and trying to overcome their own trauma. They may not have been locked up with Say, but they, too, had to go through something many would find unimaginable and, let's face it, none of us have the guidebook for that. I loved that Say didn't slide back into his "regular" life seamlessly or just with nightmares, but had to, once again, recalibrate how he thought, how he interacted with the world, how to be who he is now and seperate anyone he had ever been before from that. I feel like that kind of exploration isn't often seen in stories like this, we focus on the nightmare of the event, not the aftermath.

{Spoilers ahead} I will say, though, that there were so many questions that were left unanswered that I really wish we had seen. I would have liked to know more about Caleb. Obviously he had some mental health issues, but was losing Daniel a trigger which pushed him over the edge to take such extreme measures, or was he already delusional? What happened to and where was the read Daniel? Who were the "other Daniels" and what was their story? What did his parents do, other then just go on the news and such, to find Say? Did they ever find his car? Did they learn anything from that? However, I did really appreciate the heartbreaking representation of Stockholm syndrome.

With all that being said, I couldn't help but to sympathize with the kidnapper, which provided some fun debates between my husband and I. While I didn't agree with the actions Caleb took, I did feel like he acted with good intentions. He was desperate and thought that his kid was in danger so he did anything he could to protect him from said danger, keep him safe and with his father. He didn't always use parenting techniques that I am fond of, but he did try to parent Daniel and provide him with, not just needed, but things he thought Daniel would want. It was a misguided, damaging act out of love and some selfishness rather than a desire to hurt anyone. Though, let me be clear, I don't agree with what he did and I do feel like he should have had consequences for his very poor choices. {end spoiler}

I'm not sure I'd read this again, as so much of the impact from this story was from not knowing what was happening or what was to come but I am really glad that my husband made me read this and I got to talk to him as I read it, though I'm not so sure he enjoyed getting the "thoughts in real time" like I enjoyed bombarding him with them. And trust me, there were a lot of thoughts, even ones I didn't share with him.

Other thoughts:

So, in this book Robin Rowe crafts a masterful tale that intertwines both the thriller genre with multiple forms of coping with trauma with well written and believable characters abound, with the exception of maybe the kidnapper but I've never really come across anyone like that.

I appreciated the way that the first person perspective put you in the shoes of someone going through unimaginable trauma and even while you're screaming "Don't do it!" you still kind of understand why the characters make the choices they do.

What she rates it:

I give this book a


out of

10 view finders

What he rates it:

I give this book a


out of

10 VHS tapes

But that's just what we thought about it. What did you think? Did you agree with one of us more than the other? Did you think we were both crazy? Let us know in the comments and tell us if you'd like to see more reviews like this one with both of us sharing thoughts on the same book!

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page