My book club is starting the year off with a fast-paced thriller, In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. In all the reviews it’s compared to novels like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. I suppose this is due to the fact that this novel has both unreliable narration and really unlikable people. Aside from that I think the similarity is minor. The novel is the story of Nora Shaw, a crime fiction writer living in London. She is startled to receive an invitation to her ex-best friend’s hen weekend in the country. She hasn’t spoken to Claire in a decade – why would she be invited at all? Another mutual friend from that time, Nina, makes a pact with her to attend and so Nora finds herself in a creepy glass house in the country for the weekend with three other complete strangers. Naturally, things go awry and they may not be as safely alone in the woods as they think.
I liked this book for several reasons, and disliked it for others. What it has going for it is a quick pace – I read this book in probably four days. It keeps you interested if not guessing (I was pretty sure I knew who the bad guy was before there was even a crime). Now that I have an infant at home it’s pretty rare I can find the time to read (except at night), and something that I can plow through like this is like popcorn: delicious and fun, but not really substantial. That brings me to things I didn’t like about it. I find the entire premise pretty unlikely. It’s really difficult to go into it without completely spoiling things but I will try.
The motivation for the crime is very thin. I don’t buy that someone would go to such lengths ever, even if they might be a sociopath. Maybe I think too highly of people though. Aside from that, I really dislike plots that hinge on things like people not actually talking to each other. There is no reason a few phone calls couldn’t have cleared things up and prevented all the madness. I find the main character’s inability to let go of something that happened as a teenager a little hard to believe, but then again, I led a sheltered life as a teen. Perhaps if I had been in love and still struggled with how it ended I might be a reclusive writer with few friends as well. The characters are all potential suspects so they’re all fairly unlikable. One character in particular is drawn with a heavy hand, I imagine as a way to perhaps trick you into suspecting someone else. That didn’t work for me, but then again I usually guess the twist in stuff like this. All these little things I was bothered by don’t really ruin my enjoyment of the novel, however. It was a fun thriller and I believe is being made into a movie, which I will totally watch on Prime while scarfing popcorn.