REVIEW: In a Dark, Dark Wood
Title: IN A DARK DARK WOOD
Author: RUTH WARE
Reviewer: VY CHAU
Ruth Ware’s psychological murder mystery hardened my cold dead heart.
Never did I expect that a novel about a bachelorette party gone wrong to stir up such deep pangs of sympathy for the main character, Nora Shaw. Perhaps it is the resemblance of similar struggles that I recognize in her personality to evoke such a reaction in myself. She is seen as the most troubled character out of the group. She is heavily introverted, and will go as far as ordering her groceries online to avoid going out into public.
Some might consider her antisocial, but I consider her a satisfied social recluse. Her apparent awkwardness and intensive introspection causes the other characters to be suspicious of her behavior. I can relate to being misunderstood amongst my peers due to communication, or bad impressions. This made it difficult for me to dislike Nora from the start. While I don’t normally encourage readers to connect to the main characters due to the fact that writers like George R. R. Martin exist, readers with similar backgrounds may take a liking to her as well.
“The north never forgets. Long live Ned Stark.”
Nora has spent the last ten years in a wasted endeavor to coordinate her life in such a way that she could put her past behind her. Can you really blame her though? I don’t know of too many people who willingly talk about their own years in high school. Unfortunately for her though it seems that her massive baggage will be reluctantly trudged up by mutual friend, Flo Cavendish via email. Isn’t it frustrating how hard it can be to evade your past in this day and age?
This earth shattering email is an invite to Nora’s childhood best friend, Clare Cavendish’s Hen. The real kicker here is that Nora hasn’t had contact with Clare in over ten years. The other guests at the hen aren’t familiar with each other either in fact. The only relation they all hold is their mutual friend, Clare. The location of the Hen is in the middle of a wintry English forest in a modern glass house. Rather suspicious I might add. How can I be so sure that they’re English? If the blatant mentioning of their location isn’t enough proof. The amount of marmalade they put on their toast should suffice.
Perhaps you are more of the malicious type and enjoy the detriment of others. Nina da Souza is the character for you. While she doesn’t physically hurt anyone, this six foot one Brazilian doctor has zero tolerance and even a sharp tongue to match. She lacks restraint, but her sarcasm creates humorous moments around the drama that forms when you isolate several women, among them a pregnant woman, a gay playwright, and a manipulative former social queen. It’s honestly quite relieving amongst the awkward ice breakers that take place.
I don’t consider myself an avid reader of murder mysteries, but a similar novel that I find myself relating this to is ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn. What is predominately dissimilar about the two books is the rate at which the story picks up speed. In ‘Gone Girl’ the climax of the story doesn’t begin until part two with the wife’s perspective. Within Ware’s storytelling the piece picks up suspense within the first chapter and you are immediately left with several questions. The story leaves you reeling for answers as you try to fish out the connection between guests at the hen.