Updated: Mar 30, 2020
In a Dark, Dark Wood is Ruth Ware's debut novel and is overall a solid thriller. Set in the moody English countryside in a remote cabin in the woods, the story follows Nora Shaw and her unexpected invitation to her childhood friend, Clare's, bachelorette weekend. Nora reluctantly accepts the invitation and quickly learns the real reason Clare invited her.
The story is told from dual timelines from Nora's perspective. The chapters alternate between Nora's experiences during the bachelorette party and Nora's present state in a hospital ward, with memory loss of what transpired. Nora is a unique unreliable narrator in the sense that she so badly wants to remember what happened to her and fill in the gaps of the tragic incident that occurred. She is far from a likable character and I found her annoying and hard to relate to. Nonetheless, I wanted to uncover what happened and kept reading in order to solve the mystery.
In a Dark, Dark Wood is very Agatha Christie-esque, being that there is a cast of characters, holed up in a secluded cabin with way too many windows overlooking the dense woods, a crime occurs, and everyone is the suspect. It is a quintessential "whodunit." Parts of the story were a bit predictable, but I felt this thriller is perfect for those new to the genre or who prefer a more tame thriller that will not keep them up at night. The sense of place is incredibly atmospheric and I thought the cover art was spot on. I could vividly depict the cabin Nora stayed at and I often thought of the newer version of the movie, When a Stranger Calls. (Creepy, remote cabin with windows everywhere. People can see in, but you can't see out. No thanks!)
I highly recommend this one if you enjoy a classic mystery, are a fan of Agatha Christie, or are new to thrillers and scare easily. I read thrillers so frequently that it takes a lot to surprise me, but overall, I thought this was a solid read and the writing was well done. What did I learn from this book? If a long lost friend randomly invites you to her bachelorette party, don't go.....