Review: Into a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered.

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

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.

This book had me at "Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered." Lately I have been reading a few more suspense books and thrillers than I used to before, there is something about the unknown and unexpected in a book that is just irresistible. In a Dark, Dark Wood was no different.

I'm going to keep this short and sweet because this book is better enjoyed if you have no idea what's going to happen and what people's secrets and motives are.
Also I'd like to mention that I did this book on Audible, and it was truly fantastic! The narrator was able to become each one of the characters in the so well, that at times it felt like you were listening to more than one person telling the story.

Nora is a successful writer, and lives a comfortable life by herself in her flat in London.
Nora has a past though, 10 years ago she left school and never came back, never got in touch with her friends, moved out of town and just simply vanished, as far as her old life was concerned.
Now, at the age of 26 when she finally feels she's put the past behind her, she receives an email inviting her to Claire Cavendish's hen. Claire used to be Nora's best friend in high school. But why now? Why her? 

After careful consideration, Nora decides to go if her friend Nina, who was friend's with Claire as well, goes with her.
The Hen is being held in a house in the country hours away from London, and is being thrown by Claire's now best friend Flo.

When Nora and Nina arrive they find themselves in a beautiful estate, though secluded, in the middle of nowhere. No neighbors for miles and no cellphone reception.
Here they meet the rest of the guests, Melanie, Tom and the host, Flo. They are all friends of Claire's from recent years, met her while they went to Uni. 

Nora hasn't spoken to Claire in 10 years though, and the reason why she was invited to the Hen was still a mystery to her.
When Claire arrives, Nora finally gets to aske her face to face why would she reach out after such a long time, especially when Nora picked up and disappeared without giving anyone any explanation and without saying goodbye.
When Claire finally tells her the reason why she has invited her, Nora is completely blindsided. This is a confession she wasn't expecting and while Claire has done nothing wrong, Nora finds herself angry and resentful towards her.

The weekend at Flo's aunt's house was anything but enjoyable though, at first we see them start to get to know each other, talking about their lives and what they do for a living while playing drinking games.
Things get weird quick though when Flo has close to what everyone thought was a nervous breakdown. Nina and Nora definitely didn't like her from the very beginning, she was weird by all accounts. Snapping at people for inconsequential things and going completely berserk over trivial things.

The morning after the first night though, Nora notices something strange when she goes out for a run, footprints outside the house. This was strange because none of them, other than herself going for a run, had been outside the house and there were no neighbors for miles. After finding the footprints things will only take a turn for the worse.

It's worth mentioning that we get pieces of the story in two different time periods. In the present Nora is in the hospital after having been involved in a car accident and sustaining severe injuries, nobody will tell her exactly what happened though or who had died. She is struggling with her memory and the events from the weekend start coming to her in parts and some not at all.

What Nora does know though is that something terrible has happened, and that it wasn't just an accident, the police are looking for a murderer and that can only mean that someone didn't make it out of the house alive.

I can't really tell you guys more than that though, other than it was like being in a giant game of Clue! I listened while I was at work, while I was driving, while I was folding laundry, I just couldn't stop and I needed to know who had died and who was the murderer.
It was one of those stories where you first thing it was one person, then the next looks just as suspicious, and when you get to the chapter after that two more people are looking good for the murder too, they all had opportunity and they all had some kind of motive.
But what is the secret Nora is hiding? Could that be the reason all this terrible chain of events happened in the first place? Or was there someone else with their own secrets, trying to make sure they were never revealed? 

While I don't want to say anything that would spoil the ending for you guys, all I'm gonna say is that it was an unexpected outcome, and I was ok with that. I like being surprised and being given something I didn't consider for how things would turn out in the end. It left me thinking about Nora and her future a lot.

I was very invested with all the characters in this story. Nora, Nina, Claire, Flo, Tom and Melanie,  they were all unique and each one added a different layer of mystery and unease to the plot.
If you like a good mystery novel that will keep you guessing til the very end, well then I highly recommend this excellent debut novel by Ruth Ware!

Congratulations Ruth on Into a Dark Dark Wood's rights being acquired by Reese Witherspoon! Read more about that HERE!

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.

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