In a Dark, Dark Wood
By Ruth Ware
Published by Vintage Publishing (30 July 2015)
Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered.
In a dark, dark wood
Nora hasn't seen Claire for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.
There was a dark, dark house
Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare's hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?
And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room
But something goes wrong. Very wrong.
And in the dark, dark room…
Some things can't stay secret for ever.
In a Dark, Dark Wood is an atmospheric psychological thriller. I read this in two one-hour-long reading sessions, unable to put this highly-addictive book down. Set in an isolated house in a dark wood, it lives up to the title, with a creepy story about catching up with old friends.
Nora hasn't seen Clare for 10 years so is very surprised to get invited to her hen weekend, although bizarrely not to her wedding. Torn between deleting the emailed invitation or accepting out of curiosity, she decides to take the plunge, unaware that this is a decision that she may come to regret.
Nora joins a handful of Clare's past and present acquaintances in an Agatha Christie-style plot. Take a group of virtual strangers and stick them in an isolated location, cut off the rest of the world as the phone lines go down and mobile coverage is scarce. Then see what happens when the going get tough…
On the whole, the writing is edgy, the pace is fast and the plot is fairly dark and sinister. The chapters alternate between the present day and Nora's memories of the weekend. She's confused and can't remember exactly what happened in the woods.
The plot strikes close to the bone. Most people have had an opportunity to meet up with old friends (whether just on a day out or at a school reunion). This book may make you think twice about accepting the next invitation.
The only reason I can't give this five stars is because of the ending. The culprit did come as a surprise. But without giving away spoilers, I felt that Nora's actions were a little too clichéd for me and, as a crime fiction writer, I would have expected her to have had more common sense. I also felt that while there were some good twists, the underlying reason for the whole book wasn't quite dark enough for me (and not as dark as the story suggested).
But I would certainly recommend this to anyone who loves psychological thrillers.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.