Adult Fiction book review

Dark Room Etiquette by Robin Roe

Dark Room Etiquette by Robin Roe

Published October 11, 2022 by Harper Teen

About the Book

Sixteen-year-old Sayers Wayte has everything—until he’s kidnapped by a man who tells him the privileged life he’s been living is based on a lie.

Trapped in a windowless room, without knowing why he’s been taken or how long the man plans to keep him shut away, Sayers faces a terrifying new reality. To survive, he must forget the world he once knew, and play the part his abductor has created for him.

But as time passes, the line between fact and fiction starts to blur, and Sayers begins to wonder if he can escape . . . before he loses himself. 

Librarian Laura’s Review of Dark Room Etiquette

I wasn’t quite prepared for the gut punch of reading this story. Roe’s first novel, A List of Cages, remains one of my favorite young adult novels to this day, though I read it back in 2017. It was always one of my instant go-to recommendations for students when I was a school librarian. Just like with A List of Cages, Roe has again written a story that is both haunting and moving, and one readers will not soon forget.

Sixteen year old Sayers Wayte is wealthy and careless, spending his days like a typical teenage boy, but one who has never had to want for anything. He has it all – popularity, wealth, a girlfriend, a sports car, and not much parental supervision. In a tragic turn of events after a school field trip, Sayers becomes stranded in an unknown town and is soon kidnapped and held by a man named Caleb. Sayers is put in a windowless room by this man, who claims to be Sayer’s real father and calls him “Daniel,” convinced Sayers is his long lost son who was taken from him many years ago. Sayers is faced with disturbing, horrifying trauma at the hands of his captor, brainwashed to believe so many things that are untrue, which will ultimately change his identity and ability to cope. The story is well-written and the pacing is quick, keeping readers turning pages in a race to find out what will happen to Sayers. Unfolding in pulse-pounding, terrifying scenes that are frighteningly vivid, Dark Room Etiquette will captivate readers until the final pages. Despite such dark content, the survival story does feature a hopeful ending. Definitely not an ending where everything is tied up in a happy little bow, but a fitting ending that provides a bit of hope for Sayer’s future. This book will cause readers to empathize with Sayers, but also to think about the lasting effects of trauma. Unsettling, intense, and harrowing; this is a story you won’t want to miss.

Thank you to author Robin Roe and Harper Teen for providing me with a complimentary review copy of this book.

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