In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood is a 352 page thriller/mystery published by Harvill Secker in July of 2015. I listened to the audiobook read by Imogen Church.

In a Dark, Dark WoodFirst, I must note that Church is a FANTASTIC narrator. I will definitely seek out other work she’s done. A large part of what I loved about this story is the suspense she created.

As for the plot: When Nora receives an email requesting her presence at Clare’s weekend-long hen night (a sort of bachelorette party?), she is shocked. Nora makes a pact with her friend Nina to go together to avoid the awkwardness guaranteed from not having spoken to Clare in a decade.

The three day weekend is told through Nora’s memories of awkward and tense interactions between Perfect Clare, Obsessed-with-Clare Flo, Hyper-Gay Tom, New-Mom Melanie, Doctor Nina, and (Presently Amnesiac) Nora. Imogen Church brings each of these character to life with a unique flare and even gives all the minor characters lots of fun accents.

Past the fact that Nora is still weirdly obsessed with the boy who broke up with her ten years ago (a little worrying), I liked her. Nora is a crime writer–subtle references to her profession were a nice touch–that is self-sufficient. While some of the other characters were a little stereotypical, that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the plot.

The plot structure is well crafted, alternating between Nora’s muddled thoughts in the hospital and her bursts of memory from the hen weekend, which takes place in an old house in the woods. I did occasionally get annoyed with Nora constantly shouting at herself, “WHY CAN’T I REMEMBER?!? I NEED TO REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED!!!” as she tries to recall the events that lead up to the accident and hospitalization. Although, she was trying to figure out who was murdered and who the murderer was, so I can understand a bit.

I was pleasantly surprised that I did not guess the murderer’s identity, although who was murdered was clear to me early on, even though it wasn’t revealed until late in the book (I’m pretty proud of myself–as a novice at reading crime, I almost never guess correctly!).

The suspension and reveal (which gives the novel a truly dark tone, even for a murder story) of this subtle whodunit captivated me, and the brilliant narration kept me on edge. I definitely recommend this to fans of mystery, thriller, and crime novels.

TITLE: In a Dark, Dark Wood
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AUTHOR: Ruth Ware
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PAGES: 352
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ALSO WROTE: The Woman in Cabin 10
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SORT OF LIKE: And Then There Were None
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FIRST LINE: In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house.
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FAVORITE LINE: There was something strangely naked about it, like we were on a stage set, playing our parts to an audience of eyes out there in the wood.

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