In a Dark, Dark Wood

Ruth Ware
Oct 22, 2015

Not having seen her childhood friend Clare Cavendish for over 10 years, Nora Shaw is surprised to receive an email invite for Clare's bachelorette party. Nora calls Nina, a mutual college friend, and they reluctantly decide to go to the party together. When they arrive they are shocked to find a modern house, virtually a glass castle in the woods. Nora is disturbed right away by the chilly landscape and isolated location. Clare has not yet arrived, so Nora decides to take a quick run to clear her head, and is surprised to find that dark falls quickly in the woods. On her way back to the house she is met by blinding headlights from a car driven by none her than her old friend Clare. Clare is glad to see her and anxious to tell her why she was invited, but there is obvious tension between the two as Clare tells Nora that she is marrying Nora's childhood sweetheart, James. As the party guests get to know each other tensions in the house seem to rise and each guest has questions as to why they were invited.

The story is told in flashbacks, as Nora wakes up in a hospital hearing cops say the case is now a homicide. Nora doesn't know who has died, how, or even if she was involved. In a Dark, Dark Wood is a mystery within a mystery -- the first and most obvious is what happened at the party to kill someone and send Nora to the hospital. And secondly, what happened between Nora and her boyfriend that she has been unable to forgive or move past for ten years?

I liked the descriptive writing and was able to really feel the coldness of the house. Ruth Ware has created a great setting for a mystery: it’s winter, with chilly weather, darkness and snow. The house and guests are in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a dark and menacing forest on all sides. Most of the time there’s no cell phone reception, no landline, and mysterious tracks in the snow. Everything is given for a perfectly haunting and spine-chilling story, and you know for a fact that this is definitely not going to end well for one, if not all of the guests.

Reviewed by Library Staff