In a Dark, Dark Wood is one of the books I was super excited about picking up at BEA. I was even able to get it signed by Ms. Ware at an in-booth signing, and it was lovely to meet her. She seemed really excited that I wanted to read her book, which I thought was so sweet. I actually started reading it that afternoon while I was at BEA, standing in line for another signing, and I finished it the next day. Reminiscent of both The Girl on the Train and Before I Go to Sleep, both of which I really enjoyed, In a Dark, Dark Wood was right up my alley.
Leonora, who these days goes almost exclusively by “Nora,” is a reclusive crime writer who rarely leaves her apartment except to run. When she receives an unexpected invitation to an estranged friend’s hen party—that’s British for “bachelorette party”—she’s too shocked to do anything but ignore the email until she receives another email from another school friend, promising to attend if Nora does. Against her better judgment, Nora agrees, and the two women make the trip out to the isolated cabin where they are to spend the weekend.
Two days later, she wakes up in a hospital bed, scraped, bruised, and bloody, and knowing that someone—though she’s unsure who—is dead. Her first thought is not “What happened?” but “What have I done?” Struggling to piece together the events of the weekend, Nora nevertheless tries desperately to keep some unsavory memories buried where they belong: in the past. But certain memories refuse to remain interred, and as Nora strains to remember what happened in the woods, those other memories—the ones she has struggled for a decade to forget—will rise to the surface.
I forget when I first heard about this book, but I’ve been dying to read it for at least six months. I want to say I heard about it at some point last year, but it wasn’t even showing up on Amazon yet and I couldn’t find who published it, so I was SOL. But I got an ARC at BEA, and devoured it in two days, and boy was it worth the wait.
Like I said above, this book was pretty much right up my alley. Suspenseful, fast-paced, with missing information and a potentially unreliable narrator, In a Dark, Dark Wood checks almost all my boxes. It seems obvious at first who the perpetrator is, even if it’s not entirely obvious who’s dead, but don’t get too cocky—you’ll probably go through a couple different phases of “YES! I knew it was them!” only to get another clue that muddies the waters again. The alternating timelines give both a sense of urgency and a sense of unreality to the narrative, with Nora flashing in between her memories at the cabin and the present day in the hospital as she recovers and learns more about the accident—or was it?—that caused her injuries.
The only thing that got in my way of reading this even faster than I already did was my occasional stumble over unfamiliar British slang and sentence construction, but hey, I can live with that. Like I said, it was only occasional, and even then it was hardly a hiccup; I just had to read a few sentences more than once before I could grasp the context.by