In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood first came to my attention via NetGalley, where the tag line ‘Someone’s getting married. Someone’s getting murdered.‘ jumped out and demanded to be read. I’m a sucker for a good thriller, and the premise of old school friends reuniting for a deadly hen-do sounded perfect for a tense and fast-paced read. I was kindly supplied with a free copy by Vintage Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Our protagonist here is Nora, who hasn’t seen her former best friend Clare in ten years. She reluctantly accepts a surprise invitation to her hen party, only for everything to go awry. The set-up of six relative strangers spending the weekend in an isolated house, miles from civilisation and devoid of phone signal, lends the book a claustrophobic environment that provides a perfect foundation for ramping up the tension. Just past the halfway point, events shift into amnesiac territory, with Nora struggling to remember how the weekend ended. I preferred the first half of the book to the latter, finding the second half slower going, as Nora struggled towards revelations. While there were few major surprises, there was enough doubt and suspicion raised to keep me guessing until the end, which is always a good sign in a thriller.

I read it in increasingly lengthy bursts over four days, finding it a little harder to put down each time. There were some substantial frustrations along the way – Nora is still hung up on a high school romance that ended a decade ago, while made her less relatable and more remote to me, and a decent chunk of plot could have been entirely avoided with a single conversation. These irritations didn’t keep me from enjoying the book overall though, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone seeking a fast-paced thriller to eat up a long train journey, or an icy evening under a blanket.

[Read from 7-11 Jan 2016]

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