Publication date: 30 July 2015
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Length: 352 pages
Age group: Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: ★★★★★
In a dark, dark wood
Nora hasn’t seen Clare 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 one of those books that, when you’re not reading it, you’ll be thinking about it. It’s seriously addictive. I picked it up on a rainy Saturday morning and found myself, hours later, still glued to the page, not wanting to put it down. I had really high expectations for this one and it didn’t disappoint – I loved every (deliciously sinister) second of it.
Ruth Ware created a brilliant setting for a mystery: it’s winter, with chilly weather, darkness and mud. Lots of it. We’re in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a dark and menacing forest on all sides. There aren’t any neighbours and you can go miles before you hit a road or see anyone else. Most of the time there’s no reception, unless you want to brave the cold and climb to the top of the hill near the house. Everything is given for a perfectly haunting and spine-chilling story, and you know for a fact that this is definitely not going to end well.
The author builds up the suspense really well and although it’s not a fast-paced book, in this case, it didn’t have to be – and I didn’t mind at all. Normally, I prefer my thrillers and mysteries to be a little more fast paced, but I don’t think this particular story would have had the same effect if it was any different. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters as well, and a couple of chapters in I felt like I already knew some of them.
The thing I probably enjoyed the most about the story, however, is the narration. Certain parts of the story are told after the hen do, when our narrator is lying in hospital with a massive head injury and countless other scars and bruises, while hopelessly trying to remember what happened. I love unreliable narrators and Nora wasn’t an exception. The fact that she doesn’t remember what happened in the woods or how she ended up in hospital, and is desperately trying to piece it all together before it’s too late, makes the story even more intriguing. Only one thing is clear: someone has been killed and there’s a murderer among them. But who can Nora trust if she can’t even trust herself?
In a Dark, Dark Wood is a phenomenal debut which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat, and which will no doubt stay with me for a long time. Haunting and atmospheric, it’s a must-read for fans of thrillers and mysteries.