In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is every adult’s worst nightmare. In her debut novel, Ware rips off the Band-Aids binding her characters’ adolescent scars in order to reopen unforgettable, unforgivable wounds. The question here is whether protagonist Lenora Shaw is wounded, dangerous or both.
Now in her late 20s, Lenora is a crime writer. She’s perfectly content with her adult life of guarded and precise routines. That is, until she accepts an invitation to attend the bachelorette weekend of her former best friend, Clare, in a remote, off-the-grid house in the snow-covered woods. It was Clare who had helped Lenora through the most horrible time in her life—when something happened to her high-school sweetheart, James. Clare had helped Leonora out of that mess when James sent that text telling her to never talk to him again. Leonora owes Claire, doesn’t she? But why, after 10 years without a word, has Clare suddenly invited Lenora to attend her bachelorette weekend? After all, she wasn’t even invited to the actual wedding. But as Leonora and those who know Clare best know, it’s all about Clare and what Clare wants. And Clare doesn’t want anything—or anyone—to interfere with her wedding, which is to none other than James.
After waking up in a hospital bed with bruises, blood and lacerations on her body, Leonora attempts to piece together what happened during the bachelorette weekend. But she can’t remember everything. And what she does remember, she wishes that she didn’t.
With its clever plot and a room of suspects, In a Dark, Dark Wood reads like an ode to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock. Fast paced chapters are laced with literary allegories from the great classic crime novels, which serve as clues for the reader to try to Sherlock out what happened before Leonora uncovers her next memory . . . if Leonora’s memory can be trusted at all.