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.
The 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.
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.