In a Dark, Dark Wood
By Ruth Ware
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 apartment unless absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years invites Nora 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 tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past. This gripping literary debut from UK novelist Ruth Ware will leave you on the edge of your seat through the very last page.
Alright, a disclaimer, this is not a brand-new book. Published in 2015, I believe it is slated to be a movie with Reese Witherspoon. All that aside, the dark, haunting tree filled cover grabbed my eye at the library, and here it is for all you thrill seeking readers.
This is a very quick read. I know I’m a fast reader, and this was a “Saturday by the lake, hide myself for a few hours” book. Definitely one you can take on holiday, especially great for plane rides.
Leonora, or Nora, hasn’t spoken with her childhood best friend in over a decade. Imagine her surprise, when an e-mail pops up inviting her to a bachelorette weekend in the country. Scheduled for November, in a secluded second home in the dark, dark wood of the title, Nora is hesitant, but curious. She contact another school friend, Nina, with whom she hasn’t lost touch, and together they decide to go. Both women soon regret their decision as they are thrust into an intimate setting with strangers, and an overachieving maid of honor. The atmosphere of the novel isn’t quite as eerie as the cover suggests, but it is more like a modern Agatha Christie novel. In fact, there are even references as such within the plot, and so there is a familiar sort of feeling. Remember Ten Little Indians? The isolation of the setting works well to amplify the tension: limited cell service, a downed landline and mysterious tracks in the snow. No major surprises for all the mystery buffs, but a fun read overall. This will keep you up late turning page after page to see “whodunit.”
There is a lot of relationship drama and a shifting chronology for the first half of the novel, which makes this a fast-paced read. The latter half of the novel moves a bit slower, but don’t worry – you won’t feel bogged down. The plot follows some expected suspense novel pathways, but Ware still manages to throw in a few genuine surprises. I couldn’t put it down. This is one author I will certainly read again. Since I came along late to the party, her new novel, The Woman in Cabin 10 should already be on the shelves.
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: August 4, 2015