In a Dark, Dark Wood
By Ruth Ware
Summary: What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.
Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.
Source: I purchased a hardcover.
In a Dark, Dark Wood kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It bounced from the past, the invitation to the cottage for a bachelorette/hen party, to the future, where Nora woke up in a hospital bed with a fuzzy memory. What happened at the hen party? Why were the police talking about murder outside Nora’s hospital room? Did she do something wrong?
I loved the suspense of In a Dark, Dark Wood and it was unlike a lot of thrillers because it didn’t feel like an over the top, this cold never happen type of scenario, nor was it the type of situation that made me feel like the main character made dumb decisions. I liked how realistic it seemed. It started with an invitation to Clare’s hen party (which seems to be the UK version of a bachelorette party) hosted by Flo, Clare’s best friend. Nora hadn’t spoken to Clare in a long time and it didn’t seem to end well, but the reader wasn’t privy to the details about what happened. Nora felt like the invitation might have been a mistake, but it only went to a handful of people. She was still in contact with one mutual friend, Nina, who said she’d also go. It seemed like a decision anyone would’ve made, especially out of curiosity.
The cottage was secluded, the cell reception was shoddy, and the dynamics were off between everyone, but it was from Nora’s POV, so that was to be expected. She was the outsider. I loved seeing her notice everyone’s interactions. The whole event seemed so weird, but not in a way that screamed “thriller novel” so it was believable to me. I notice dynamics between friends all of the time and it is sometimes super awkward to bring people together. And some people have friends who act like different people with different friends, so it just makes you feel weird being around your friend and watching her act like someone else. But Nora hadn’t seen Clare in years, so she was trying to figure out who everyone was and who Clare had become over the years.
It was obvious that something happened between Clare and Nora, and we slowly got a little bit more of the story. I couldn’t figure out why Nora was invited in the first place. And in the present, when Nora was in the hospital, I wanted to figure out what happened, who died, and why Nora was being guarded by police officers. What happened? How could this somewhat low key hen party turn into a nightmare for everyone involved?
I loved the book. It had me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was happening. I loved that there wasn’t any info-dump, so I craved more pieces of Nora’s past. I wasn’t sure if I could trust Nora as a narrator, trust her friends, or trust the strangers in the house. It was nice not knowing what to expect and I was thoroughly surprised by the turn of events. I definitely recommend In a Dark, Dark Wood for any fans of thrillers!