Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.
In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house
Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?
And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room
But something goes wrong. Very wrong.
And in the dark, dark room…
Some things can’t stay secret for ever. (Goodreads)
This summer reading lists seemed to be dominated by the much over-hyped The Girl on a Train and the better, but still over-hyped Luckiest Girl Alive and unfortunately one of the best mysteries of the summer got lost amidst that hype. If you feel the need to call anything “The next Gone Girl” (and I’ve said repeatedly that even Gone Girl doesn’t live up that hype) then In a Dark, Dark Wood is much more deserving of that title.
This novel is the story of a hen party gone very, very wrong. The story isn’t told in an entirely linear fashion – early on we discover that Nora was involved in some sort of terrible accident and is now in the hospital, so there’s a sense of dread over the early events because you know something is coming. However, the alteration between the present, and Nora’s recollection of the events is well done, and makes you that much more interested in learning what happened. Ware does an excellent job of building the tension and suspense throughout the novel.
Another great thing about this book is how different all the characters were. One of my biggest complaints about The Girl on the Train was that all the female characters felt exactly the same. That certainly wasn’t the case in this novel. Every single character has a very different, and sometimes quirky personality. Even more interesting is the fact that every single one of them seems to be a likely suspect – including the narrator herself. There are enough twists and turns through this novel that I didn’t completely peg down the actual guilty party until near the end – I had my suspicions, but I couldn’t be sure. It was refreshing not figuring out the entire story within the first third of the novel. I like when mystery writers can keep me guessing.
This book was incredibly well-written and completely engrossing. I sat down to read it in the late afternoon and barely set the book down until I was finished with it later that night. It’s a fairly quick read, but in a good way. You won’t want to stop until you know everything that happened.
If you’re a fan of a really good, really suspenseful mystery with diverse and interesting characters, then I cannot recommend this book enough. Forget The Girl on the Train (please, please forget it) and pick up this one instead. You won’t be sorry.