Would you go to a hen night/bachelorette party of a woman that you hadn’t seen since school? Nora does. Would you go even if you knew that you weren’t being invited to the wedding? Nora does. Yes it sounds implausible, but in the masterful hands of Ruth Ware, this horrendous social scenario becomes utterly plausible and so you get sucked into the social awkwardness of, in my opinion her best book, In a Dark, Dark Wood.
It’s the fact that you know Nora has made the wrong choice from the get go, that makes this story so compelling. You know that there were problems with Nora and Clare’s relationship otherwise they wouldn’t have lost touch, but they did and you really don’t know why. That said you can rest assured that it isn’t going to be a simple kiss and make-up type story because your own inner demons are crying out ‘don’t go’, ‘turn back’, ‘make your excuses’ and indeed Nora thinks all these things, but still she keeps pushing forward. Partly out of curiosity, partly because of the friendship they once shared.
Nora has support in the shape of her and Clare’s mutual friend Nina and so, allied in not really understanding why they have been invited, they head off to stay in the Lake District at a house owned by the auntie of the maid of honor. The house is built of glass and stands at odds with its surroundings on the edge of, yes you’ve guessed it, a dark, dark wood. None of the other attendees, of which there are surprisingly few, give you the warm and fuzzies, so when things start to go wrong, it’s not the biggest surprise.
In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is a really creepy, unsettling read and I loved it. The whole setting of this tale strikes close to home emotionally as many of us have, in our younger days, gone on hen weekends that weren’t really for us. The awkwardness of bonding, the necessity to misbehave, to share truths, leave all of us vulnerable. The starkness and isolation of the setting, with inclement weather pushing in and a maid of honor who is blatantly unhinged all push this story further and further towards its ghastly conclusion. Read it.