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In a Dark, Dark Wood Bets On...

In a Dark, Dark Wood

August 2015

I love dark psychological thrillers; I’m not sure what that says about me. Thus, when IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware came across my desk, I looked at the cover and thought this was my kind of book.

Bachelorette parties were not in vogue when I was married, but I know enough about them from our staffers to recognize that they have enough components to set up a good story. Plunk together women who know each other from various points of their lives, and, well, the opportunity for tension is there. But what if you are asked to join this weekend soiree by someone you had fallen out of touch with? Why are you there? What does this gathering mean for you?

And what if the story is set up in a house where there is a shaky Internet connection --- a house in the woods, the perfect claustrophobic setting to ramp up the creepiness to a new level?

We find ourselves headed to this hen party, the British version of the pre-wedding soirees that we know, along with an unreliable narrator, Leonora (previously known as Lee, now Nora), who is a freelance journalist and something of a recluse. We learn over a number of pages why she and Claire, the bride, are no longer close friends. There’s an air that something will happen hanging over the entire party, which is hosted by Flo, Claire’s new best friend (there always must be a best friend in a pecking order at these soirees!). The weekend is fraught with tension; trust that if these women could text, they would be calling an Uber to come get them. But everyone muddles on.

On the last night, when people are just hoping this forced friendship march will be over, life really goes off the rails, leaving Nora sitting in a hospital bed realizing that someone has died --- and questioning if SHE killed them. It’s a tight, brisk read that will keep you flipping pages and looking over your shoulder.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ware at BookExpo America (BEA) as she was one of the Buzz Authors. She constructed the location to be deep in those woods to ensure that communication would be shaky. These days, we are so able to connect 24/7, which inhibits a lot of tension in storytelling from being able to occur. Read with the lights on. And never alone in a house in the woods.   

In a Dark, Dark Wood
by Ruth Ware