Leonora doesn’t understand why she’s been invited to her friend Clare’s bachelorette party. After all, they haven’t spoken in years and she certainly wasn’t invited to the wedding. But on a whim, Nora decides to attend, and ventures out to a strange, if gorgeous, house in the woods to spend the weekend with Clare and her friends. Days later, Nora wakes up in a hospital, unable to remember what happened during the weekend, left with the knowledge that something horrible occurred and someone is dead.
I didn’t know anything about In a Dark, Dark Wood when I started reading it. I was in a reading slump and I had it handy, and it seemed to be some sort of psychological thriller, so I thought to myself, “Maybe this will actually be able to keep my interest and jump start my reading.” A few hours later, I put the book down, completely taken in by its incredible pace and twisted mysteries. I’d plowed through it in one sitting, and it left me breathless.
The dual narrative structure works really well for In a Dark, Dark Wood. Nora is the narrator in both cases, but the book starts out in the present, where Nora is in the hospital, unable to remember what happened or how she got there. The book jumps back and forth in time, as we learn about the weekend in the past and in the present, the results of what happened. Ware ratchets up the suspense with every time jump, and the present-day moments have the rare effect of increasing the narrative tension in the novel, rather than merely providing exposition.
Nora is an interesting character, for sure. She’s wholly imperfect, and at times, readers will find themselves frustrated with her. But she is sympathetic, and as her backstory unfolds over the course of the novel, readers will become emotionally involved in her story. Indeed, all of the characters in this book are difficult in their own ways, but they’re all layered, multidimensional characters that readers will enjoy trying to unpack.
If you need a book that will hook you from the first page, that you’ll want to read cover to cover in one sitting, In a Dark, Dark Wood is what you need to read. I adored the creepy, chilling atmosphere and I’m now worried about what I’m going to read next because I’m afraid it’ll be hard to follow this up with something equally good.