One fact about me that some people know and most don’t is that I’m a bookworm. Not just someone who likes to read, no, I spend most of my spare time reading. When I told Ben that my yearly challenge is to read 50 books, he laughed and said That’s not a challenge. You’ve already read over 30 and it’s only April. Maybe he’s right, maybe I should say a 100. But logging a lower number won’t stop me going over. I read anything from a good thriller to a romance to historical novels, dramas, you name it. Maybe the challenge is already 100, but it’s only a personal one.
Since reading is quite a lonely sport, I joined a few groups on Goodreads and ended up reading a lot of great books people recommended. But Goodreads is still only virtual. So, I recently joined a book club, the kind where you meet up once a month and discuss the book you all read. And the next meeting is in a pub. What’s not to like about that.
The book I read was In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware and I had to give it 5 stars. It’s a crime/thriller novel and it’s so gripping you struggle to put it down and actually call it a night.
Lee, or Nora as she prefers to be called is a writer who’s invited to her old friend’s hen do, years after losing touch. It’s an understatement to say that she’s surprised to receive an invite, but she and her friend Nina decide to go to a remote house up north anyway. The story switches between Nora in a hospital and events of the previous days, which makes you feel as if you’re remembering what happened at the same time as Nora, struggling, like her, to piece the events together. I also liked how the events from 10 years ago are masterfully woven into the story and please do pay attention to them.
The plot in itself may be a little bit predictable and amnesia is a great way to stretch it out a bit, but I thought it was nicely done. It wasn’t too stretched out and it made me feel Nora’s frustration at not being able to remember. The characters are a mixture of different types, a manipulating beauty, a clingy and not confident best friend, a strong independent woman, a gay man and a slightly introverted writer who’s trying to forget the past. Clare was the character that I thought was most worked on, the author trying to get the reader to understand her personality and influence.
What I didn’t like about the book was some juvenile traits in Nora and Clare. Nora can’t seem to get over her breakup with her teenage sweetheart, not even ten years on. A breakup at 16 shouldn’t prevent a grown-up woman from forming a normal relationship. Yes, there was a teenage pregnancy and abortion, but Nora admits that the abortion didn’t bother her. So, why does a breakup after only 6 months of a relationship impact her so much, she basically becomes a hermit? And Clare, who wanted James for herself in their teens, who caused a breakup, now feels that she can’t confess because she won’t be liked anymore. Because of a teenage prank? Those two things sound a little bit silly.
Despite a few flaws, I think this is a good book and as it’s the writer’s debut novel, it deserves a bit of leniency.
All in all In a Dark Dark Wood is still a decent fast-paced page-turner you’ll probably enjoy reading on a train or a beach (or on a sofa with a big mug of hot chocolate).
Any book recommendations, a good thriller or not, let me know 🙂