Book Review - Dark Drink by Tina O'Hailey

Dark Drink is Tina O’Hailey’s brand new novel, a psychological thriller about two best friends.

Thank you to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for sending me an ARC of Dark Drink in return for an honest review. I read When Darkness Begins and loved it, so jumped at the chance to read Dark Drink!

Jude and Mercedez are best friends and have been utterly inseparable since they met. But both are keeping huge secrets from each other. Jude is haunted by her brother’s suicide (and his depravity). Mercedez is the last living witness to the death of a teenage girl, which she captured on camcorder as part of an amateur horror film. As Jude becomes a viral YouTube star with her cocktail making videos, helped by Mercedez and her excellent PR skills, it draws attention to the pair and their past that neither could have anticipated.

You can find Dark Drink on Amazon in paperback and Kindle (it’s out today!), or add it to your To Be Read list on Goodreads.

My review

I read Dark Drink in one sitting — wow! The story is exciting and character-driven, with the focus being on Jude and Mercedez, and the viral YouTube videos they create together. There are lots of flashes to each character’s past and the horrifying secrets they’ve kept their whole lives.

I absolutely loved the friendship between Jude and Mercedez, which is the centre of the book. Both are great characters who I spent the whole book rooting for. It’s so refreshing to see such a realistic female friendship on the page — the way both are loyal to each other and have tied their lives together. And I just loved both characters — they are both just super cool, with interesting hobbies.

I definitely could see Tina O’Hailey coming through in some of Jude’s experiences — being a fan of caving and a biker herself. This really made her feel real and relatable. Jude also struggles with face blindness, which is described in detail and is an important part of the book. I’ve never met anyone (as far as I know) who has face blindness and it’s not something I’ve read about before, so I found this so fascinating and intriguing. As someone who is good with names and faces it’s a completely alien concept to me and I really enjoyed these sections, as they are just so unlike my own life experience.

Dark Drink has LGBTQ+ representation, too — Mercedez is a transgender black woman and Jude is Asexual. While it is mentioned, it wasn’t the focus of both character’s stories. Both characters have lots more to them than their sexuality or gender, it’s just another aspect of who they are, it’s not token representation, and I thought this was great!

As Jude goes viral with her cocktail making, each recipe is added in throughout the book. I thought this was a great addition, and I now want to try some of them out — especially the chocolate-flavoured Campfire Martini! All the descriptions of caving are really vivid and well-described, too. I could tell that the author was writing from her own experiences here. Same for the descriptions of the mountain ranges and country life in Tennessee, inspired by Tina’s own life.

My only criticism of the book was that while each chapter changes point of view between Jude and Mercedez, it sometimes wasn’t instantly clear who was who — especially towards the end when it switches within chapters. So I would have liked to see each chapter labelled (similar to The Expanse series, for example).

Overall, this is an exciting and interesting thriller, with lots of dark sections. There’s trigger warnings here for sexual abuse of children and animal abuse. It focuses on Jude and Mercedez, and I love both characters — they are interesting and relatable, with lives full of interests and hobbies. Their close friendship is the highlight of the book.

Book blurb for Dark Drink

Jude and Mercedez have kept deadly secrets from each other.

Jackson’s suicide haunts Jude. She burned all evidence of her brother’s depravity. One less monster in the world, right? Tech-savvy Mercedez is the last living witness to a teenage amateur horror film that ended with a gruesome death. She never told.

A viral video (thanks, Whiskers) brings internet fame—forcing flip-phone wielding Jude to choose between her job as the second female in the VP motorcycle motorcade or her mixologist hobby.

Global visibility brings naked vulnerability—someone has subscribed to Jude’s channel.

Missing neighbors found dead in side-by-side freezers, viral drunk “I quit” videos, spammed porn magazine subscriptions, snail mail severed fingers, sabotaged cave trips, cryptic social media comments, and stalking photos push the codependent friends over the edge (literally, off the side of a bluff) when best friends find out secrets can kill.

Tina O'HaileyAbout the author, Tina O’Hailey

Tina O’Hailey is an animation professor, a caver, and an occasional mapper of grim, wet, twisty caves (if she owes a friend a favor or loses a bet), whose passion is to be secluded on a mountain and to write whilst surrounded by small, furry dogs and hot coffee. Tina was once struck by lightning.

She has served as an artistic trainer for Walt Disney Feature Animation, Dreamworks, and Electronic Arts. Any movie credit she has is minimal and usually found in the special thanks section. The meager credits do not account for the great honor it was to teach talented artists who worked on numerous feature films and games.

She has authored animation textbooks “Rig it Right”, “Hybrid Animation” published by Focal Press, and the Darkness Universe novels “Absolute Darkness”, “When Darkness Begins” published by Black Rose Writing. O’Hailey is a member of the NSS, VES, and International Thriller Writers.

Her favorite motorcycle is her BMW R1200C—mathematically perfect for her short legs, turns on a dime, and is the ugliest bike ever.

You can find Dark Drink on Amazon in paperback and Kindle (it’s out today!), or add it to your To Be Read list on Goodreads.

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Book tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources

Blog Tour banner for Dark Drink

I reviewed Dark Drink as part of a book tour organised by Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources. Check out the other bloggers taking part in this book tour for more reviews, extracts and guest posts:

7th July

  • Jessica Belmont
  • B for bookreview

8th July

  • The Word Is Out – Alyson’s Reviews
  • Nesie’s Place

9th July

10th July

  • sharon beyond the books
  • once upon a time book reviews

11th July

  • @juliereadzintherockies
  • Zooloo’s Book Diary
  • Portable Magic

12th July

  • Little Miss Book Lover 87
  • Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

13th July

  • Heidi’s books and study
  • inspiredbypmdd
  • Over The Rainbow Book Blog

You can find Dark Drink on Amazon in paperback and Kindle (it’s out today!), or add it to your To Be Read list on Goodreads.