Emily's Reviews > In the Woods

In the Woods by Tana French
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's review
Jul 01, 09

it was amazing
bookshelves: series, alltimefavorites, mystery
Recommended for: fans of psycological thrillers, mysteries, finely crafted character studies, realsim
Read in June, 2009

This book broke my heart. In a good way. It's been a long time (since Harry Potter, I think, and I read for a living) since two characters have been as vivid and real and wonderful as Rob and Cassie. Their complicated relationship is so recognizable to anyone who's ever had a best friend of the opposite sex; tangled and wonderful and wholly their own. Which is probably why it broke my heart: without giving too much away, people do terrible things to each other. And when you feel for these characters (not just Cassie and Rob, but everyone one you meet seems fully formed and real), it's a delicate, cruelly beautiful thing to watch them.

I love to read mysteries for the escape, for the thrill of it- it's unlikely I'll ever tread in Nancy Drew or Sherlock Holmes footsteps except in my imagination. It's rare and wonderful to find a mystery where the characters are just as well-crafted and complex as the twisty, turny, edge-of-your-seat plot. And French's writing style is lyrical, clear and precise. She describes one of the detectives as looking like "a martyred Labrador"; evocative and funny and so visual that you can just see the look on his face. And despite the fact that she's American, her grasp of Irish culture and slang is spot on. It's not heavy-handed, it's not too much; it just rings true, so that you can hear the accent in your head. I love that. But it's not escapism in the way that many thrillers or mysteries are. The relationships, the characters, the harsh realities of life and the criminal justice system are far too real for it to be called escapism. I loved this book, but it's not for everyone. I read it compulsively, like an addict, sneaking reads whenever I could. Even when I wasn't reading, I as mulling the story over in my mind, poking at it like a sore tooth you just can't leave alone.

My ultimate test of a good book is if the characters stick with me in the following days and weeks, if I find myself missing them like a friend who's on vacation, or I find myself absently wondering what happens to them after the book closes. I know these characters will stay with me for a long time. But I've got to take a break before I read French's next book (The Likeness); I want to saver this one, mourn the end of it, inhabit this world a little longer. It's a truly excellent book that makes you want to take a break before you start another. I couldn't start another book now- it just wouldn't be fair. As the Irish might say: fair play, Ms. French- you've done a bang on job.
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Ellen Hi....I just finished this myself and agree with you for the most part. What did you think of the ending?(no ending) I was so frustrated. Do you think she did this for a sequel?

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