In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I’ve now read both of Ruth Ware’s novels, and I’m here to say that I’m down to try anything else she publishes.  I read The Woman in Cabin 10 late last year, and was entertained all to heck by it.  In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ware’s first novel, is another four-star reading experience for me.  Both are twisty, secret-filled, suspenseful page-turners.  Both are a bit campy and improbable at times.  Yet I couldn’t stop reading either – the kind of books where you don’t want anyone to talk to you while you’re reading, you just want to cram the words into your brain as quickly as possible.

9781501112317_custom-b94a64187bf3180e71db57fd0feedeb786ff5a89-s300-c85The bulk of the novel takes place over a weekend at a “hen do” (a bachelorette party to Americans.  I quite like the term “hen do.”)  Our heroine, a young writer named Leonora, has been invited to the festivities by an old high school friend, Clare, whom she hasn’t been in contact with for ten years.  Curiously, she hasn’t been invited to the actual wedding.  (Alarm bells should probably have been going off internally, am I right?)  But for some reason (remembered fondness?  curiosity?  boredom?) she agrees to go, along with a mutual friend, Nina.  There end up being six people staying at the house in the middle of nowhere England, in the winter.  Oh, and it’s a glass house.  A creepy, glass house belonging to the aunt of the hen do’s host, Flo.  Flo and Clare are college pals, and as the action unfolds, we see that she is mentally… fragile?  Unbalanced?  She is desperate for the weekend to go perfectly on Clare’s behalf.

However, from the start we know that something has gone terribly wrong, because the first chapter opens with Leonora (Nora as she now wishes to be called) in the hospital, in pain, and a nurse telling her where she is, that she’s had a head injury, and that she’s going for a scan.  So the reader alternates between the events of the weekend and Nora’s time in the hospital, desperately trying to remember what happened to put her there.

517zkkkjmxl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Secrets abound in this thriller.  Why did Clare and Nora have a falling out?  Why has she been invited to the bachelorette but not the wedding?  Who is the groom?  Why is Flo so strange?  What has happened to Nora, and why can’t she remember?  I admit that I didn’t discover the answers to these mysteries as quickly as I should have, and was thrown by more than one red herring.

It is just as I’m drifting off to sleep than an image comes to me: a shotgun hanging on a wall.  

And suddenly I know.

The bruise is a recoil bruise.  At some point in the recent past, I have fired a gun.  

If you’re interested and want to try one of Ware’s books, I would start with this one.  The sense of dread in this one built much more convincingly, and the heroine wasn’t quite as annoying as the one in The Woman in Cabin 10.  Don’t say that I didn’t warn you that at times you may be frustrated with the main characters and find yourself thinking things like, “What are you doing?” or “Take your damn phone with you, woman!”  But if you want to be entertained and feel a need to escape, you could do much worse than these two books.

Do you enjoy thrillers or suspense?  Just what is the difference between those two terms anyway?  Have you read this one?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

28 thoughts on “In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

  1. I need to read this one soon.I really liked The Woman in Cabin 10 and this one sounds even more interesting.I like the bachelorette weekend setting.Sounds interesting.Definitely one for my Tbr.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been wanting to read In a Dark, Dark Wood since it came out, because I’ve been so attracted to that black and white cover. Not a very good reason, I know, but now I know it’s also good! One of these days…

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  3. I think you commented on my book review, so if I’m repeating myself, please ignore! I listened to The Woman in Cabin Ten for my book club. Later, I looked at my husband’s physical copy (he is also in book club) and discovered that many things Lo said or thought in the book looked very, very stupid and whiny on page, but in the audio book, it was chilling and convincing. If I read this book, and I think I will, I’m going to do the audio book again. I also heard on NPR an interview with Ware right after this Dark Wood book came out. She said she was somewhat inspired by movies like Scream in which a young woman is being watched, and the only thing she need do to get away from the killer is close the blinds!

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    1. How interesting about the words reading differently on the page as opposed to the audio. I found Lo to be whiny, yes, but I was very much interested in the mystery and her predicament. I don’t do audiobooks very often but perhaps I should try one of hers just to see the comparison myself.

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      1. I think Ruth Ware would be the author to test your audio book aversion on. A lot of lines like “Oh, my god!” looked so stupid on page, but the voice actress would read the line in a shuddery, terrified way that was terrific.

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  4. I feel like suspense has everything a thriller has plus more atmosphere and descripty bits between. When it comes to viewing, I feel like I’m more of a suspense person and less of a thriller person, but my line shifts more on the page, and it seems to come down more to author preferences than style preferences for me as a reader. I haven’t read either of her books yet, but I like the idea of a bit campy. That makes me want to take a peek for sure!

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  5. As you might have noticed, I don’t read a lot of thrillers or suspense novels. That said, I’m starting to think that I’m losing out here! I feel like every time I read a review for some I am compelled to read it. That said, I get nightmares easily… This is a wonderful review, Laila! Yet again, you’ve managed to persuade me to add a book from a genre I don’t often read to my TBR. You have quite a gift!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, thank you! I hope you don’t have nightmares because of me, I’d feel bad! 🙂 I have a very overactive imagination and I have to be careful what I read, so if something is too scary for me, I’ll put it down. Thrillers and suspense are fun for me but I understand how they might not be for others.

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  6. I LOVED The Woman in Cabin 10. I haven’t read In a Dark, Dark Wood yet, but hopefully I’ll find the time. Based on your review, it sounds like this one is a locked-room mystery too. There is nothing better than a great locked-room mystery!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love thrillers and suspense and crime ficiton in general and I’m with you on reading anything Ware publishes. However, I have to admit that I enjoyed In a Dark, Dark Wood much more than The Woman in Cabin 10. Maybe her debut novel set my expectations too high?

    Liked by 1 person

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