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In a Dark, Dark Wood
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November 2018 Discussion: In A Dark, Dark Wood

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Ashley Cummins | 47 comments Mod
Discussion thread for our November 2018 book club pick!

Ashley Cummins | 47 comments Mod
This book, may just be one of the best books I’ve read in 2018. I started this year just wanting to get back into reading for pleasure, but if I knew I would experience simple gems like this, I would have picked up a book a lot sooner. Ruth Ware’s in a dark, dark wood tells the story of a weekend hen do (bachelorette party) gone wrong.

Ten years after suddenly leaving her old life behind and cutting all ties to previous friendships, Leonora is invited to the hen do of her childhood best friend, Clare. Hounded with the past, Nora decides to go even though she hasn’t seen Clare since she was 16. Thrown into Clare’s new world so suddenly Nora feels overwhelmed with both her past and the loss of her new sense of independence/identity. Nora starts to transform back into the 16 year old she used to be “Lee.” It is something that unsettles Leonora, but as foot steps appear out of thin air, the phone connection goes down, and the door is found swinging wide open Nora begins to think her presence in Clare’s new world isn’t the only strange thing about this weekend.

The execution of this story is actually so good that it actually kept me guessing. Every chapter was filled with new questions, suspense, and cliff hangers. To write proper suspense is something that many leave out of their own thriller/horror writing a lot, unfortunately— there’s questions and wonder, but that pressure that the characters feel usually doesn’t translate to the reader— making the whole situation feel like a series of happenings more than a modern day horror story. Ware’s novel had that level of intensity to it. As things happened to and around the characters I found myself on edge. Paired with the cliff hangers in the book it made me want to continue on. I read a book extremely similar to this one earlier in the year and didn’t enjoy it too much. I had to speed read my way through it and by the time I got to the large reveal I didn’t feel anything more than “Oh. That makes sense.” But with Ware’s work the cliff hangers made me wonder if what I thought to be true was or was not, making it a really fun read.

This book is a 5/5, because it accomplishes what it sets out to do in an exquisite way. That being said, if you’re looking for something new or surprising this isn’t it. I’ve read the same story countless times before. The characters all fall into a specific archetype and play that role and don’t stray from it. It’s a enjoyable structure, especially for a shorter novel such as this one. But the roles mean that you won’t fall in love with any characters, and if anything you’ll absolutely loath how annoying they can be. Everyone is obsessed with their image and identity in one way or another in this book, and while it’s realistic it still doesn’t support the craziness that unfolds during the book. It’s just a mediocre reasoning for the circumstances they’re found in at the cabin. The “tried and true” structure saves it, and it seems obvious that Ware is a good writer to make the expected a fun ride no matter what.

If I hadn't read The French Girl earlier this year, I don't know if I would have rated this book more than a three, however. The disappointment I felt with that book definitely made me appreciate this one way more. I actually really enjoyed how the characters were written, the smaller details we learned about them (although they didn't mean anything to the plot, and how each person had their own struggles of identity and image that they were going through. If it wasn't for that theme, also, I don't think that I would have had any second thoughts about what I thought the ending to be either. Cliffhangers or no cliffhangers. But because everyone comes across as people with their own hang ups, secrets, or problems it's easy to second guess everyone as the suspense continues to build.



I'm so sad that it took me this long to read this really great book. I was actually scared reading it and worried that things wouldn't turn out okay for the main character.

This was definitely a page-turner that kept me guessing. The book ended in a way that I was satisfied with which is very important to me and probably every other book reader out there. What I mean is that I don't need another book to follow this one. Although, I wouldn't complain to find out what happened between Leonora and her ex-boyfriend's friend. Did they date? Did they just become good friends who support each other? Does Leonora still keep her distance from other people? These are small questions that I have. I can live without the answers but I also wouldn't be made with an epilogue.

I'm really excited to see what Ruth Ware writes next because I can't wait to read it!

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