The Dark Side

The Dark Side

by Danielle Steel


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In her new novel, Danielle Steel tells a riveting story of the dark side of motherhood.

Zoe Morgan’s childhood was marked by her younger sister’s tragic illness, watching as her parents dedicated themselves completely to her final days and then divorced. As a young woman driven by these painful memories, Zoe sets the bar high for herself, studying hard and pursuing a career in the nonprofit world, where her deep compassion for disadvantaged children finds a focus.

When Zoe falls in love and has her own child, she is determined to be a perfect mother as well. But before long, old scars long dormant begin to pull Zoe to the edge of an abyss too terrifying to contemplate.

As Zoe is haunted by the ghosts of the past, her story will become a race against time and a tale of psychological suspense that no reader will soon forget.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399179419
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/27/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 4,325
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with almost a billion copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Lost and Found, Blessing in Disguise, Silent Night, Turning Point, Beauchamp Hall, In His Father’s Footsteps, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; Pure Joy, about the dogs she and her family have loved; and the children’s books Pretty Minnie in Paris and Pretty Minnie in Hollywood.


San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

August 14, 1947

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67

Read an Excerpt

Zoe and Rose Morgan were the perfect complement to each other as sisters. Zoe had straight, dark, shining hair. Rose had a halo of white-­blond curls, which sat like a cap on her head. Zoe’s features were beautiful, though sharp and well defined for a child so young. Rose looked like a cherub, everything about her was round, including her small, smiling face. Zoe was long and angular, all legs and arms, like a young colt. There were no sharp edges to Rose. She was loving and soft. She had learned to blow kisses before she could say hello. Rose was an irresistible child. Zoe had always been shy, although having the irrepressible, fearless Rose as her little sister made Zoe bolder and stronger. Rose loved following her around. It annoyed Zoe at times, particularly if Rose ran off with one of Zoe’s toys, and Zoe gave her a sound scolding for it when she did. Zoe was three when Rose was born and had stared in wonderment at her in the bassinet. Rose had bonded with her immediately. Her face lit up whenever Zoe walked into the room.

Zoe was six when Rose was diagnosed with leukemia at three. Zoe didn’t know what it meant. Her mother had explained it to her, that it was a sickness Rose had in her blood. She would have “treatments,” and have to go to the hospital and stay there sometimes. She was going to have “chemotherapy.” When they were alone, Zoe had asked her mother if it would hurt, and she said it might, and it would make Rose sick for a little while, but in the end, it would make her well. She would be fine again. Zoe saw something in her mother’s eyes then that she had never seen there before: fear. She could see that both her parents were afraid. Her father said he was going to take care of her whenever Rose had to go to the hospital, so their mother could stay there with Rose. And when Rose got well again, everything would go back to normal. He promised her that it would, and she believed him. She could tell that he believed it too.

Three days later, Rose left for the hospital, with Beth, their mother. Zoe remembered that she had a little pink suitcase and took her favorite teddy bear, Pinkie, with her. She was gone for four weeks, and their mother stayed with her, and came home for an hour or two every few days, to get more clothes and give Zoe a hug. When Rose came home the white-­blond curls were gone. Rose slept a lot, and she lay on the couch, but she wanted to play when Zoe came home from school. And Zoe was happy to have Rose and their mom home again.

Rose stayed at the hospital a lot in that first year, and she had something called a bone marrow transplant. Their mom gave her some of her bone marrow, and it helped. Rose got better after that, just like Brad, their father, had said. Her curls grew back, although they were a darker blond, and her eyebrows and eyelashes came back too. Zoe didn’t yell at her anymore when Rose took her toys. She was just happy Rose was home, and so were their mom and dad. Zoe was used to spending most of her time with her father by then. It wasn’t quite as good as being with her mom, who always had everything perfectly organized and in control, but he was almost as good at it as her mom was by the end of that first year. Zoe told him what he didn’t know, like how she liked her toast, and which cereal was Rose’s. He did the laundry, made the beds, picked her up at school, cooked the meals. He let Zoe help him make s’mores for dessert every night if she wanted them. He read her bedtime stories, and they always called Rose before Zoe went to sleep, if she was at the hospital that week. They had a party for just the four of them every time Rose came home. They made cupcakes for her, or baked a cake. They put candles on them, and Rose got to blow them out. It was like her birthday every other week.

Zoe knew she was lucky that her father could stay with her because he worked at home, and had a studio upstairs. He had been an animation artist at Disney studios, until he wrote a book about the adventures of Ollie the Mouse, who loved to travel and went everywhere. He did the illustrations himself. The first Ollie book was an instant success. After the second one, a TV show was produced, which led to merchandising and Ollie dolls. Brad left Disney then, and moved to San Francisco with Beth, right before Zoe was born. They had never expected the book to be such a huge success. It was sold all over the world in sixteen languages. Zoe loved it when he read the Ollie books to her, and a new one came out every year. Eventually, Ollie married a little white mouse named Marina, who was a ballerina, and they had twin baby mice named Charlie and Seraphina. Their family was complete and their adventures continued. From the time Beth and Brad moved to San Francisco and Zoe was born, Brad continued to work at home in his studio. When she was old enough, Zoe loved going upstairs to visit him. She had a little table in a corner, with her own drawing pad and colored pencils and crayons, and later paints. She loved drawing Ollie and Marina and the twins too.

Zoe’s mother didn’t work. She had worked in a hospital in L.A. as a surgical nurse before they’d moved, but once Zoe was born in San Francisco, Beth became a full-­time mom. They went to the park every day, baked cookies, went to swimming lessons and play groups, and took a music class for moms and little kids. They were busy all the time. Zoe had just started preschool when Rose was born. She kept everyone busy, and Zoe felt like their family was complete, just like Ollie and Marina and their twins in their dad’s books. Zoe’s mother even let Zoe take Rose to show-­and-­tell at school, so everyone could see her, when she was four months old. Rose smiled at everyone while Zoe held her, and then she fell asleep. Her visit was a big success, and everyone agreed that she looked like an angel. The children commented that Zoe and her baby sister looked very different, except that they both had big blue eyes like their mom.

Zoe loved living in San Francisco. It was the only home she had ever known, and she loved their rambling old house with a view of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. She and Rose shared a room, and there was lots of space to play. At first, Rose slept in a basket in their parents’ room, next to their parents’ bed, and when she was too big to sleep in the basket anymore, Rose slept in a crib across from Zoe’s bed. Zoe would tiptoe over to peek at her, sound asleep in her crib, and then go back to her own bed. By the time Rose got sick, they were both sleeping in beds. Their father had painted a magical garden on the wall, with fairies flying over it. Zoe loved it. They had the best room in the world. When Rose was in the hospital, Zoe would look at her empty bed at night and miss her. The room seemed empty when she was gone. She counted the days until Rose came home.

Zoe loved her status as big sister. Even if Rose was a pest at times, Zoe loved her. Later on, her memories of her first six years, until Rose got sick, were as close to perfect as you could get, with adoring parents, happy days, and a little sister who was fun to play with. She couldn’t wait for Rose to start school with her, but she started a year late, since she’d been sick.

Rose had a year after the bone marrow transplant, and then the leukemia came back with a vengeance, and made her even sicker than she’d been before. Her hair fell out again, she had to have something called a port, because she got chemotherapy so often and they couldn’t use the veins in her arms anymore. From the time she was diagnosed again, and was no longer in remission, her deterioration was slow but steady over the next two years. Her life was a living hell. At nine, Zoe understood that now.

Customer Reviews

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The Dark Side: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I have read true crime books about this subject and find it fascinating and scary. This was a book I could not put down as are all the books I have read by Danielle Steel but I feel this one was truly on the dark side. Loved it.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I have read every book that Danielle Steel wrote and look forward to reading more. Lately the characters and story line develop nicely,but the end doesn't reflect that. It just stops. Perhaps a sequel would help.
Anonymous 6 months ago
A moving story , hard to shake but bringing the point across ....if anyone thinks they are dealing with a situation such as MBP please seek help for the sake of your loved one before it's to late
Anonymous 7 months ago
It was a book that I could not put down. It started out on a sad note where a little girl has a sister who has leukemia. How this affects the little girl in her future is anyone's guess. A must read novel that is darker than most Steel novels.
Anonymous 7 months ago
She never disappoints
Anonymous 22 days ago
Better plot development and better characters
lsmoore_43 23 days ago
I’ve read and loved so many of Danielle Steel’s books and this one was maybe my favorite. It held me captive throughout and I didn’t want it to end. Other than knowing exactly how it would end that is. Her writing style has always intrigued me and this one did not at all let me down. It’s different from most of her books and like I said possibly one of my new favorites. The things that happen in this book will keep you turning pages until the very end. It was fantastic. I can’t rave enough about it. I loved it from start to finish and won’t give not one thing away. It’s a book I highly recommend if you like Steel’s work or even if you have never read any. This one is definitely one to read. Thank you #NetGalley, #RamdomHouseBallentine A huge 5 stars from me. I highly highly recommend this book. A real page turner.
Anonymous 25 days ago
Anonymous 3 months ago
I really liked this book.
LulusReviews 3 months ago
Reading a Danielle Steel novel is like wearing your favorite pair of fuzzy socks - exactly what is expected and comforting. #TheDarkSide was a quick read, following Zoe's personal relationships and focusing on the one with her only daughter Jaime. I realized how the book would end early on, but still could not put it down. It was a light but emotional fast-paced roller coaster - exactly what I expect from a Danielle Steel novel. I couldn't click through the pages quickly enough! Thanks to #Netgalley for the opportunity to preview The Dark Side by @DanielleSteel - I really enjoyed it!
Anonymous 4 months ago
Ms. Steel u have put a light on this terrible disease. Your research is always so thorough. Thanks gor educating your readers. I look forward to reading your books.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I really loved this book, there were some extremely difficult to read parts for anyone who is a parent but all in all it is definitely a great book, Danielle does it again.
Anonymous 5 months ago
This book was difficult to read because of the subject matter, I have read all of Ms Steel's books and this is an absolute departure from her usual writing, I read it all and was satisfied with the ending but it was painful; readers be prepared!
rlhendrick 6 months ago
This is a difficult book to read. It deals with the pain and suffering of children. . Zoe Morgan is a new mother and is having a hard time adjusting. She had a very difficult childhood seeing her younger sister die from leukemia. Her family fell apart after the death and it made a huge impact on her life as an adult. As she settles into motherhood, her small child begins to have accidents and health concerns. Everyone thinks that Zoe is the greatest, most attentive mother because she has to deal with a clumsy, sick child. Things aren't always what they seem. People around her finally start to see a pattern to the illnesses and accidents of the child but how will they ever prove that there is more to the injuries than just a rambunctious 2 year old. This was a fast read but I never really got invested in any of the characters. The main character is understandably unlikable, but the other characters seemed to be aggravatingly naive. It's a different type of story than I'm used to from Danielle Steel. Thank you netgalley for the ARC of this book for my opinion.
Denice_L 6 months ago
This is not your typical Danielle Steel book, if it can be said that she has a typical. The Dark Side takes us on a trip through the story of a family wounded by the illness and death of a child. As is the case too often, the family unit does not survive the child's death. The surviving child shows no visible scars, but they are there. As she moves through life, she works hard to excel and reaches her goals while still hiding her pain. Her marriage and family seem perfect, maybe too perfect. The Dark Side is of course about the effects a childhood illness has on everyone around them. How the world will see and ultimately heal this family is a very good story. Danielle Steel may not write this type of "dark" tale everyday but she definitely is one of the best story tellers around.
MarionMS 7 months ago
This is not your typical Danielle Steel romance but instead more of a psychological thriller and one that I had a hard time putting down. The Dark Side is the story of Zoe Morgan and the things that happened in her past to shape her into the person that she is now. Zoe lost her sister at a young age which caused her to have a somewhat different childhood than the norm. Now she is a wife, mother, and a friend to those around her. She finally has the life that she has always wanted. This book is a real page-turner that I did not want to end. This book is well written, and the characters are very well developed. It gives you a window into a world that you may not have even considered. Thank you to Danielle Steel, NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book.
KelsieAL 7 months ago
The Dark Side is a tale of psychological suspense by Danielle Steel. Steel is the author of many bestsellers but this novel is different from your standard fare. Zoe Morgan has a difficult childhood because her younger sister, Rose, is diagnosed with leukemia and dies when Zoe is ten years old. Zoe’s mother spends all her time with the seriously ill Rose and then retreats into deep despondency after Rose’s death, leaving Zoe very isolated. Zoe’s father remarries and has two more children but isn’t involved in Zoe’s life. Zoe eventually attends medical school but withdraws to work at a nonprofit for abused children. Austin Roberts is a well-known child advocacy attorney who takes pro bono cases for children and is member of the board of the nonprofit. Austin comes from a completely different family background. He’s from a close family and enjoys spending time with them. He loves his brothers, and their wives and children. Zoe and Austin marry and conceive their daughter, Jaime, through in vitro fertilization. They’re both over the moon happy, but Zoe has some unusual parenting ideas. She’s totally against schedules for babies and insists she will nurse on demand for at least the first year. Also, she believes that children should be given the freedom to make choices about things that may be harmful to them. Austin is taken aback, but he’s a first-time parent as well so he goes along with Zoe’s plan. From the beginning parenthood proves difficult. Zoe has problems breastfeeding. They overcome that issue but it’s only the beginning of a litany of issues for little Jaime. Austin’s mother comes to him with her concerns, and he is no longer able to ignore his own suspicions. He’s now faced with possibly one of the most difficult things a parent ever has to do. He’s looking directly into the dark side. Though this novel has a different tone than the average Danielle Steel novel, it is still just as well-written. The actual subject matter is well camouflaged until the author is ready to reveal it. I was fully captivated. The characters are relatable and believable, but not all likable. I rate The Dark Side 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to all readers who enjoy fiction with a bit of suspense. My thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. However, the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.
Teri1957 7 months ago
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This was definitely a different book for Danielle; her stories don't usually get this "dark". Very well written story written about a subject that is grossly overlooked in our society. Characters and prose well thought out and very well written. I would highly recommend this book even if you're not a Danielle Steel fan. Enjoy!
Momma_Becky 7 months ago
It's been quite awhile since I've read a book by Danielle Steel, but The Dark Side is different than what I've seen in the past. The story starts a little slow. Incredibly sad, but slow, and I'll admit that I was confused about where this one was going. That said, once Zoe marries and has a child, I started to get it. From there things get a bit darker with each incident, and the tension slowly rises. The story is disturbing and at times downright chilling. It's also a thoroughly compelling read, and once it starts to really take shape, I had a hard time putting it down. Looking back on it, that earlier part of the book may have moved slowly, but it offers some insight into why Zoe acted the way she did. It doesn't excuse it by any means, but it does help with understanding what started Zoe's spiral. Steel's detached writing style may cause a lack of connection for some, but it worked for me. This one hits on a hard topic to understand and for me, it all came together to create a story I won't soon forget.
Jackiebkworm 7 months ago
This is Danielle Steele at her best. She likes to write books where kids are the victims. Zoe’s family falls apart after her little sister passes away. She basically raises herself. She does well in school and doesn’t get into any trouble. For someone who doesn’t have parental guidance she foes really well. She meets Austin and falls in love. They have a baby girl and it all seems like the perfect family from the outside looking in. But looks can be deceiving. For someone who lived without anyone showing love for her, Zoe seems perfect. But she has a lot of fears and a very serious problem lurks beneath it all. I felt bad for Jamie, she seemed to be very accidental prone but it was always when she was with one person. Austin’s mother starts to suspect things from everything she’s heard. Zoe and Austin are really good friends with Jamie’s pediatrician so it’s easy to run things by her. Jamie has so many accidents they know her and her parent by name. I highly recommend this book. It’s very interesting.
KrisAnderson_TAR 7 months ago
The Dark Side is darker than Danielle Steel’s other novels, but it still contains her unique and engaging writing style. The Dark Side is a fascinating story that quickly pulled me in and had me staying up late to finish it. The book is well-written with a good flow and steady pacing. I like that the story is written in the third person. Zoe Morgan is a developed character, though, not likeable. Her childhood shapes her whole life. Zoe becomes an overachiever determined to excel at everything she does and that includes motherhood. I like how the story gradually evolves as you move through the book. The Dark Side deals with a topic that is rarely addressed and is very hard to prove (I do not want to say too much and spoil it for you). It is an emotional story that will touch the heart of parents. The Dark Side is a psychological suspense that will linger in your mind long after you finish it.
DebbieLTD 7 months ago
Wow! This was a great suspenseful thriller with a plot so well developed as only Danielle Steel can. The book starts with Zoe as a child. She had a happy childhood at first and adored her little sister, Rose, who looked up to Zoe,. Sadly, Rose developed Leukemia and died, devastating Zoe's family and eventually breaking it up. As an adult Zoe has worked hard to put the past behind her and make a life for herself. She meets and marries Dan, and together they have a beautiful daughter, Jaime. Zoe appears to be a neurotic mother, always reading new ways to parents, new approaches to discipline, and questioning doctors endlessly. As Jaime gets a little older, it becomes apparent that things may not be as they seem. Jaime has had more accidents and injuries than most three year olds, and they always seem to happen when Zoe is with her. Is Zoe so haunted by her past childhood that she is unable to be the mother Zoe needs? This suspenseful psychological thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat in a race against time that has everyone holding their breath! I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
MKF 7 months ago
A very different Danielle Steel. It's serious, not a romance, and it's about very difficult issues. Zoe's whole life has been impacted by the tragedy of her sister Rose, who died from a rare form of leukemia when Zoe was a child. She became the best girl in the world - the best student, etc. And then she decided to do something she wanted to do- work for a nonprofit for abused kids. She also meets and marries, and, after fertility issues, gives birth to Jaime. Sadly, though, Jaime keeps getting sick and having accidents. The family physician doesn't think it's odd, at first, but her husband does. What's wrong with Jaime? Or is it really what's wrong with Zoe? Munchausen by Proxy is a terrible thing. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good read that skims the surface of the issues.
RMIsmu 7 months ago
A big thank you to NetGalley and Random House/Ballantine for the ARC. I am voluntarily reviewing this book. I have not read a book by Ms. Steel in a long time, so I was quite shocked at how dark this book became. I am not sure if this is something different for her or not. I found this to be a very deep, complex story about abuse in multiple forms. I found it heartbreaking and painful to read. This is not a light romance so be warned. I think this is a thought provoking story that will impact a lot of readers. I give it a 4. I personally didn't really like it but it is well written and an important topic. I just was surprised.
Doreena Silva 7 months ago
Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Hmmm while I am a huge Danielle Steel fan and read all her books, I found this book to be very interesting and chilling at the same time. I didn't really know what Munchausen by proxy is but I sure do now. I really tried to like or even feel sorry for the protagonist but couldn't. It was a quick read as I read in 2 days.