In a Dark, Dark Wood
Ruth Ware (Adult Fiction)
Twenty-six-year-old crime writer Leonora “Nora” Shaw lives alone…and she loves it. When you’re alone, you’re in control and she likes it that way. So when she gets an e-mail from a stranger inviting her to a bachelorette party for Clare Cavendish, Nora’s world unexpectedly is turned upside down. She hasn’t spoken to Clare in ten years so the invitation is obviously unsettling. Why her? Why now? But it’s only for the weekend and perhaps it would be nice to see Clare again. After all, they had been best friends. But since she’s arrived at the “glass house” in the middle of the woods, Nora only seems to be accumulating more questions than answers, and when you’re in a dark, dark wood, it’s so very hard to see any light of what is real or true.
I admit that I am sometimes influenced by the marketing blurbs that appear on the front and back covers of a book. Some excerpts for In a Dark, Dark Wood include “Prepared to be scared” or “Read it…with all the lights on” or “An unsettling thriller”. I have found, much to my disappointment, that all of these are a far cry from what you are actually given. It’s certainly not the fault of Ware that expectations are set so incredibly high, but when you have Reese Witherspoon on the cover of your book promising a frightfest of epic proportions (she’s the one who warns readers to prepare for a scare), I have to wonder if my fear-o-meter is just insanely high or if Ms. Witherspoon is just a little scaredy-cat.
Without pitting Ruth Ware against Ruth Ware, I did find her second novel, The Woman in Cabin 10, to be a more satisfying and suspenseful read with the twist ending that I thought In a Dark, Dark, Wood would have. To be fair, this book did have a lot of energy and some unexpected moments, but the end really did just fall apart. I found it to be a bit predictable largely due to the generous amounts of clues that the author provides throughout the book. Also, our heroine and narrator, Nora (who goes by several names), makes some really dim decisions and –for her being such an accomplished crime author—doesn’t seem able to think logically or rationally when it would benefit her the most. Lastly, there are several gaping plot holes (we’re left questioning several characters’ intentions and motivations) and we really have to suspend any sense of logic in order to digest the series of events that happen at the end of the book.
For a quick read that you can read at night, by yourself, during a storm, in a spooky house, feel free to pick up In a Dark, Dark, Wood. For a suspenseful and thrilling book that will leave you guessing until the end, I invite you to leave the wood and go toward the water with Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10—unless you’re Reese Witherspoon and then you should definitely stay away…or at least turn on the lights.
*Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com
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