This thriller is about a hen party from hell, with a tight cast of people carrying a heap of emotional baggage from the past. Not only do they have axes to grind with one another, but at least one of them is seriously unhinged.
The setting for the novel, as the title suggests, is in a dark, dark wood that’s off the beaten track. There’s no mobile signal, of course. The owner of the property is absent. The house is modern with lots of huge picture-windows without curtains or blinds, meaning that at night anyone can see in, but nobody can see out. Stephen King would be proud of the author!
When reading this book, I admit to being spooked and holding my breath on numerous occasions, if not letting out the occasional shriek of surprise. So yes, the novel succeeded on many fronts but didn’t quite make the 5-star slot, as I disliked the characters immensely and wanted to bang their heads together. This isn’t the first book I’ve read where people have burned their guts with lethal alcoholic cocktails and sniffed coke, it was more that this particular cast were so pretentious and self-absorbed, that is was difficult to feel any sympathy for them.
Of course, bearing in my disdain for the characters, I still felt compelled to read on because the novel is exceedingly well-written. It’s pacy, punchy, spooky, freaky, alarming, and has a satisfactory conclusion.
This is British author Ruth Ware’s début novel and I will definitely want to read her next one when it comes out.
In summary, if you want to read a novel that’s a page-turner and will keep you awake at night, then this is for you.