2023 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · new release · thriller

New Release Book Review: Dark Mode by Ashley Kalagian Blunt

Title: Dark Mode

Author: Ashley Kalagian Blunt

Published: March 1st 2023

Publisher: Ultimo Press

Pages: 400

Genres: Fiction, Crime, Thriller

RRP: $34.99

Rating: 4 stars

Once you’re online, there’s nowhere to hide

 Is it paranoia – or is someone watching?
For years, Reagan Carsen has kept her life offline. No socials. No internet presence. No photos. Safe. 
Until the day she stumbles on a shocking murder in a Sydney laneway. The victim looks just like her.

As more murders shake the city and she’s increasingly drawn out from hiding, Reagan is forced to confront her greatest fear.
She’s been found. 
A riveting psychological thriller drawn from true events, Dark Mode delves into the terrifying reality of the dark web, and the price we pay for surrendering our privacy one click at a time.


Thriller and true crime fan Ashley Kalagian Blunt spent many hours in the company of her podcasts, television series and books after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 2017. This experience and time gave Blunt the confidence to pen her first psychological crime novel. Dark Mode is an instinctive, terrifying, intrinsic and compulsive thriller. A story that commands our attention and makes us think twice or even three times about our interactions in the digital world, Dark Mode is an astounding read.

Questions of observation and mania fill the pages of Dark Mode. Reagan Carsen is a woman who lives under the radar. A low profile and a lack of engagement in the social world has ensured that Reagan keeps herself safe from harm in this dangerous sphere. But Reagan’s life takes a dark turn when has a close encounter with murder victim in Sydney. This grim discovery is even more terrifying for Reagan because the dead woman closely resembles her. Then more murders occur in the city, which forces Reagan to face up to some hard truths.  Reagan knows it is only a matter of time before she is found. Will this extremely private woman be exposed?

I honestly wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Dark Mode. The cover is just stunning, I got a gothic, dark noir mashed with technology gone wrong feel from the presentation of this one. After I perused the blurb a little more closely, I decided that Kalagian Blunt’s first psychological fiction offering was definitely my cup of tea. The opening is a killer, literally! I was soon engulfed by the unfolding events in Dark Mode, they were topical, current and terrifyingly real.

Inspired by the world-famous Black Dahlia murder case, which occurred some seven decades ago, Dark Mode is a chilling modern fiction tale that draws on this unsolved true crime. I have watched a couple of screen adaptions of this case and I have to say I am still completely fascinated by this heinous crime. Kalagian Blunt has cleverly intertwined this tragic murder case into her contemporary crime novel with great success. I found Dark Mode to be refreshing, shocking, surprising, exciting and deeply chilling all the same. The narrative is carefully considered, well written and dynamic. Readers will flock to the main character and the audience will easily develop a sense of protection for Kalagian Blunt’s lead. With themes of online security, social world interactions, personal safety, privacy, misogyny, power and authority running through Dark Mode, this is a thought-provoking novel. A close examination into the rising subculture of incels in the online world makes us look very closely at our interactions in society at present. Visceral, twisty, hard hitting and alarming, I would recommend you tread lightly with this one. The murders will induce plenty of fear and shock value, but it is Reagan’s back story that holds the greatest impact. Thank you for drawing our attention to Reagan’s plight Ashley Kalagian Blunt, it is so important for our social world awareness and personal rights in our heavily focussed technological world.

A leading-edge thriller with a powerful and disturbing take away message, Dark Mode is a story you cannot ignore.

Dark Mode by Ashley Kalagian Blunt is published on 1st March 2023 by Ultimo Press. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Dark Mode, Ashley Kalagian Blunt visit here.

*Thanks is extended to Ultimo Press for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.


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