My favourite kind of reading experience has to be when I come across a book which I simply do not want to put down as I so badly want to read to find out what happens next. This book is one of those books. In a dark dark wood is Ruth Ware’s first novel and what a debut it is!
This book draws you in from the very first page as we are left wondering by the end of the first chapter exactly why Nora has ended up in hospital and with no memory of how she got there. Nora is a solitary crime writer who receives a random email from out of the blue inviting her to the hen party of Clare. The problem being, neither woman has spoken to the other for ten years. We find out quite early on in the book that the reasons behind their lack of communication for such a long time, for two people who were supposedly best friends at one point, is a major cause of unease for Nora and immediately Ruth sets an underlying tension for something which you can’t quite put your finger on. This unerringness and Nora’s reluctance as she boards the train to almost the middle of nowhere to embark on this farcical hen party increases perfectly with every single chapter. Nora quickly comes to regret accepting the random invitation and pretty soon so too do all of the other guests, considering they are as mystified as Nora as to the motives of them being invited. The whole hen party does indeed turn out to be quite awful (well, clay-pigeon shooting and Ouija board participation can’t be high on the list of many Hen party ideas!) And I did at many points in the novel find myself screaming at Nora to heed her own advice and run, but even I couldn’t have predicated the fatal events to come.
Alongside the brilliant prolonged tension of the excruciating hen party is Nora’s short term memory loss and I was so eager to read on that little bit more each time just to see what she was going to piece together, because you knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. Ruth has very cleverly kept the reader hanging on, and even though there was a slight suspicion in my mind of who it was, I didn’t expect the ending and my heart broke for Nora’s experience.
Overall, this was a great thriller with a solid storyline and Ruth hasn’t disappointed by keeping it real all the way through and not succumbing to a fairy-tale ending. This is one author who I would love to read more from, but especially this genre because she’s proved herself capable of delivering a great thriller.
All that remains now is for my teenage daughter to read it and I know she too is going to love it; despite being slightly freaked out at some parts! And that’s also the great thing about this book, it is suitable for the older teenager who perhaps wants something meatier than a YA book.
(As my daughter also pointed out the cover for this hardback book is just beautiful)