Thursday, September 23, 2021

Yes, Daddy by Jonathan Parks-Ramage

* spoilers *

Jonah Keller is struggling to make it in New York with very little money or prospects for more than minimum wage pay. He dreams to be a playwright, but has no connections to the industry. His grand plan is to spend money on an exorbitantly expensive outfit and seduce rich, powerful, and successful playwright Richard Shriver. The plan works and after a little while, Jonah is invited to Richard's luxurious commune with other writers and artists. This should be his in to a career and being mentored by titans of the industry, but things don't turn out as planned.

Yes, Daddy starts out a bit like Joe from Caroline Klepnes' You with shallow, selfish Jonah essentially cyberstalking Richard Shriver and writing out topics for future conversations. He selfishly expects his mother to fund his expenses while he uses his own money to appear rich and ensnare his prey. I found him pretty insufferable, but intrigued at where the story was going. The romance goes as one would expect: instant connection and attraction with some ups and downs. 

The meat of the story comes in when they go to Richard's artist commune together. It's not all relaxing and extravagant dinners. At first, Richard's friends are hard to please and enjoy making Jonah feel like an outsider. Then, red flags start to present themselves with missing people, knowing references, and  The gothic novel element comes in with half remembered assaults and blackouts caused by excessive drinking and drugs in Richard's commune where he has complete control over everyone and everything. All the others act like everything is normal, but Jonah knows he's being gaslit even if he can't remember everything. This part of the novel is extremely well done, revealing Jonah's evangelical past and showing the dark underbelly of Richard's commune.

The book falls flat in the ending where Jonah finds solace in religion once again after being abused in both the evangelical church of his childhood and in another church after he escapes Richard's commune. It felt like a bait and switch and didn't really make sense to me after he had so many negative experiences with various branches of Christianity. Besides the ending, Yes, Daddy is a compelling twist on the gothic novel that kept my interest through every twist and turn.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins 

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