After seeing In a Dark, Dark Wood (August 2015) appear on multiple top lists (including Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, and Publishers Weekly), I couldn’t wait to read this thrilling debut. British author Ruth Ware’s first novel proves she is an author to watch.
After a decade of losing touch with her best friend Clare Cavendish, Leonora (known as Nora) receives an invitation for Clare’s hen party (essentially the British version of what is known in America as a bachelorette party). Only recognizing one other name on the invitation email, she contacts Nina da Souza to see if she’s going. They make a pact to go together. What starts off as an awkward reunion of schoolgirls, turns deadly as secrets are revealed and strange things start happening.
Intermixed with the scenes of the hen party, every few chapters or so, is a Nora who is injured and medicated, being held at some hospital under the watch of a policewoman. What happened at the hen party? This flip between the past and present really worked to increase the intensity of the suspense. I couldn’t put this book down!
One of the things I liked most about this novel are its characters. Clare is the cliché popular girl at school who is nice to everyone yet very passive aggressive. For example, once she learns one of your secrets, she won’t necessarily use it against you but she lets you know she has your number. In many ways, this character reminded me of Alison on the hit ABC show Pretty Little Liars (based on the book series by Sara Shepard). Nora, on the other hand, is very much a submissive type—the perfect best friend to Clare. What happened all those years ago, though, that caused the two friends to lose touch? The last time they saw each other was when they were sixteen. Now, twenty-six years old, so much has changed yet so much remains the same.
I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy psychological thrillers and mysteries.
Reviewed by Libby Bridges
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