Wednesday, January 4, 2023

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware


Maybe it's because of all the Point Horror novels I read as a teen, but nothing gets my blood singing like a thriller about a murderous party. So it delights me that the successes of books like THE GUEST LIST have popularized this subgenre of thrillers for adults again. Who doesn't like a good locked room mystery? You might say no, but you're secretly lying. I know you've watched Glass Onion and Knives Out.

My previous experience with this author was pretty mediocre as I loved the idea of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 but then I felt like it kind of jumped the shark. But how could I say no to a bachelorette party that ends in bloodshed? I can't. Obviously. So I decided to swallow my reservations as if they were a shot of tequila and forge ahead.

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD starts out OK. Nora receives a questionable invite to a "hen-do" from an estranged friend and decides reluctantly to go at the last minute because another one of her friends, Nina, will be there. The destination is a beautiful cabin in the middle of the woods and it's snowing and it's CREEPY. The other guests are Tom, Flo, Melanie, Nina, and of course, the bride to be herself, Clare.

It doesn't take long for tensions to seep in. IN A DARK, DARK WOOD is told in dual timeline and through the "present" and flashbacks, we learn that something at the party went wrong and that there were tensions between some of the guests. I thought the cattiness and weirdness was really well done but as soon as the book started to get to the end, I could feel a shift-- just like THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10. And then the book-- it kind of got weird. And predictable.

This wasn't a bad book but it didn't really bring a lot to the table, either. I ended up skimming because I just wanted to get closure and find out what happened so I could hang up my hat. Maybe if I hadn't read THE GIRLS WEEKEND by Judy Gurhman, which has a similar plot but is better done, I would have liked this more. But THE GIRLS WEEKEND was way better-- and smuttier!-- so this book ended up falling short by comparison. I do think people who enjoy THE GUEST LIST will probably like this book and it certainly passes the time, but after two meh reads from this author, I'm not sure I'll read more (although I've said that before and read more anyway, so make a liar out of me, Ms. Ware, I DARE YOU).

2.5 out of 5 stars

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