I read In a Dark, Dark Wood on a sunny, sunny afternoon this summer. I found it quite impossible to put down and finished the book in its entirety before nightfall. Newcomer Ruth Ware has certainly mastered the skill of captivation with her debut novel, a psychological thriller about a hen party (bachelorette) gone terribly wrong.
Leading the story is protagonist Nora Shaw, a reclusive writer. Nora receives an invitation to the hen party being held for her estranged high school best friend, Clare. Against her better judgment, Nora finds herself coerced into attending by the headstrong Nina de Souza– a mutual friend of Nora and Clare. The story opens with Nora in a hospital bed, suffering from amnesia and sporting various injuries. After revealing that something terrible has taken place, Ware proceeds to reveal how Nora ended up like this through a series of flashbacks.
As a result of her acceptance, Nora finds herself in a house in the middle of the woods with a group of strangers and acquaintances, at the mercy of Clare’s high-strung maid-of-honor, Flo. As the weekend progresses, Flo’s behavior becomes more erratic and concerning. Finally, we start to uncover the cause of Nora and Clare’s ten-year estrangement. Ware strategically builds suspense, masterfully balancing the art of the slow-build with engaging story progression as to not bore the reader.
As with any decent psychological thriller, the trail of breadcrumbs leads to a shocking revelation at the end. Unfortunately, in this case, the ending wasn’t entirely unforeseen. However, Ware managed to avoid the often-seen fairy tale ending and leaves the reader satisfied yet uneasy. Thus, a happy-ish ending, if you will.
In conclusion, you should consider In a Dark, Dark Wood for an exciting read this Halloween season. Reese Witherspoon is working on a film adaptation as we speak; I’ll leave you to decide if this is positive or negative news.
To order a copy of In a Dark, Dark Wood click here.
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