‘A Guide To The Dark’ : Grief unveils our deepest horrors.

‘A Guide To The Dark’ : Grief unveils our deepest horrors.

You can check out of Room 9, but you can never leave.


Author: Meriam Metoui
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Format/Source: Audiobook

From GoodReads: The room is watching. But Mira and Layla don’t know this yet. When the two best friends are stranded on their spring break college tour road trip, they find themselves at the Wildwood Motel, located in the middle of nowhere, Indiana. Mira can’t shake the feeling that there is something wrong and rotten about their room. Inside, she’s haunted by nightmares of her dead brother. When she wakes up, he’s still there.

Layla doesn’t see him. Or notice anything suspicious about Room 9. The place may be a little run down, but it has a certain charm she can’t wait to capture on camera. If Layla is being honest, she’s too preoccupied with confusing feelings for Mira to see much else. But when they learn eight people died in that same room, they realize there must be a connection between the deaths and the unexplainable things that keep happening inside it. They just have to find the connection before Mira becomes the ninth.

Plot: ★★★ 1/2
World: ★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★★
Character Development: ★★★★

I went into this novel knowing nothing about it, outside of it being a thriller and sapphic. However, what I discovered within its pages (or through the audio in my case) was a profound exploration of how grief can dismantle us in ways we may not even recognize, a poignant love story between two friends too afraid to take the leap, and a young woman suffocating under the weight of her family’s expectations.

Having delved into Metoui’s work for the first time, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the pacing and story, though not as much by the character development. Throughout most of the book, the characters seemed to remain static, only really evolving in the final quarter. Mira’s behavior, in particular, felt extremely passive-aggressive. She harbored understandable resentment toward the connections her best friend was forging, yet consistently failed to assert her own truths, which were walked on when she did speak up. Layla’s petulance for ignoring the obvious seemed frustrating to me as well, being that she had such a strong voice and sense of self. However, knowing that she was dealing with her own familial struggles, I forgave that seemingly uncharacteristic behavior.

Things that I loved:

  • Dual POV with queer muslim characters
  • Supernatural element
  • The focus on how grief devastates families, friendships and your sense of self.
  • The hodge podge group of amatuer detectives.
  • The reality of losing someone
  • The UNHINGED and twisted ending.

    The Room being a character all its own really made me intrigued. I really enjoyed the way The Room narrated the grief and torment that the characters are dealing with. It was sinister and chilling. Definitely. I would say The Room is my favorite character in the book.

    Things I didn’t love:
  • Stagnant characters
  • Mira’s narrator

    One of my major but minor issues with my experience is that the audiobook narrator for Mira sounded far too old. She needed a younger narrator who could really connect with the character’s vibe. It took me out of the story every time she began.

….final thoughts…

This was a fantastic debut! I enjoyed the slow meandering pace of the story and the tragic twists that implode along the way. Room 9, Mira, and Ellis created a dynamic story within itself, not withstanding the overall story arc. Although I had some complaints, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a slow burn sapphic thriller.


“A Guide To The Dark” explores deep emotions of grief and self-discovery through a unique narrative style, using both Dual POV and Room 9 as the narrator. The book delves into the challenges of separating from familial expectations and embracing personal identity amidst tragedy. All of this is layered beneath the creeping thriller that can chill you to your bones.

About the Author:

Meriam Metoui is a writer, book editor, and (when she has the time) a photographer. She graduated from the University of Michigan and Hunter College, where she received a master’s degree in English literature. Born in Tunisia, she now lives in Detroit, Michigan with her partner and puppy. A Guide to the Dark is her debut novel.