Book Review: in a dark, dark wood

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“It was growing dark, and somehow the shadows made it feel as if all the trees had taken a collective step towards the house, edging in to shut out the sky.”
Ruth Ware, In a Dark, Dark Wood

Atmospheric, tense and a true page turner! in a dark, dark wood will restore your enthusiasm for the psychological thriller! It was one great story, and one where I pretty much burned through in a few short days.

in a dark, dark wood is the final book in the Simon & Schuster Canada’s Summer Fiction blog tour for #ReadChillRepeat and talk about ending this tour on a high note! I’m still thinking about this one, and have been recommending it to many. I have to say, it has now pushed out The Girls in the Garden as my very favourite out of the five! (But still highly recommend The Girls in the Garden too! Both of these books deserve space in your beach/cottage/patio bag!)

Excellent summer reading!

This has been described as a locked-door mystery akin to Agatha Christie’s, and the palpable tension of the guests in this imposing glass house in the dark, dark woods is certainly pervasive throughout. Like many of these books, you cannot spill too much of the plot because it would ruin it all, so you’ll just have to know that this is one I recommend picking up to discover for yourself!

At the centre of the story is Nora Shaw. She is a crime writer that lives an enjoyable solitary life. It’s how she prefers it. If she feels any need to be social, she reaches out to her friend-from-school Nina to pull her out of her shell. Strangely enough, both Nora and Nina receive a very out-of-the-blue invitation to a “hen party” (bachelorette party) for Claire Cavendish, the invitation extended by her purported best friend Flo. What makes this very odd is that Nora hasn’t spoken to Claire in over 10 years. She broke off all contact, left everyone completely and utterly in the dust, and took up her quiet existence in London. These reasons for this breakdown in communication are of course not shared just yet with the reader. After much back and forth with Nina, and promises that if Nora goes, Nina will go as well they set off to the address provided in Northumbria.

The location of this weekend party is set far back in a very out of the way, almost deep into the wilderness, house that is made entirely of glass and imposing features. At first, they are met at the door by a woman that looks strikingly like Claire, but Nora can’t be too sure of it at first because they haven’t seen each other at all in those 10 years. However, the girl greeting them isn’t Claire, it’s the bridesmaid throwing the party, Flo. Shortly after Nora and Nina’s arrival, the other guests begin to arrive as well – Tom, Melanie and finally Claire.

And here is where Ruth Ware shines – her characterizations of these six closed off guests are textbook exemplary! They each have highly believable traits along with just enough unreliability between them all to really crank up the unsettling tension over the weekend.  There is Nora, already known to be introverted, the sarcastically outgoing Nina, the ice-queen Claire, the over-the-top-mental wanna-be-Claire-clone, Flo, along with Tom, a best-friend from camp and Melanie, the anxious new mom. Throw these six into this foreboding glass house in the deep, dark woods and you have a weekend that will boil over with anxiety and tension! Oh, and let’s not forget the murder….

The story is told using two timelines – the current one, where Nora is under investigation by the police, and the one where they are taking part in their hen-party activities. So, while I did have the ending figured out, I completely needed to see if it would end as I thought, and remained intrigued and entranced all along the way.  The tension! The atmosphere! It’s thick, thick!  And yes, while I’ve asserted strongly before, I needed to be completely finished with these “Gone Girl-a-like” books, this one was very well done and it definitely restored my faith in the psychological thriller. Perhaps it was the Christie-like atmosphere with the Christie-like characters that grabbed me?

Whatever the reason, Ruth Ware is already coming out with another one shortly and I have quickly added to my TBR list! If The Woman in Cabin 10 its as dark and tense as in a dark, dark wood, then I’m eagerly looking forward to getting my hands on a copy!

 And don’t forget to enter at Simon & Schuster Canada for this spectacular prize!

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