Edition: Paperback, 352 pages
Published by: Vintage, 31st December 2015
Genre: Adult, Crime, Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Completed: 13th February 2016
Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since the day Nora walked out of her old life and never looked back.
Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen party arrives. A weekend in a remote cottage – the perfect opportunity for Nora to reconnect with her best friend, to put the past behind her.
But something goes wrong.
And as secrets and lies unravel, out in the dark, dark wood the past will finally catch up with Nora.
In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house;
And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room;
And in the dark, dark room there was a dark, dark cupboard;
And in the dark, dark box there was a….skeleton!
The got the impression I got from this epigraph is I may be in for a creepy read but it’s not as creepy as it sounds.
In A Dark, Dark Wood is about our main character called Nora, aka Leonora who is a crime fiction writer, likes to go running and lives in Hackney. Then out of the blue, she gets an email – an invitation to Clare’s Hen Party. Nora hasn’t spoken to her former best friend in the last decade. Why now? Curiosity gets the better of her and so she agrees to attend.
The book opens up with Nora who is currently at hospital, bruised and bandaged with memory loss. She overhears the police wanting to talk to her about a homicide investigation. Because of this, she tries to remember what happened at Clare’s hen party that cause her to end up in hospital.
The first half of the book was a bit slow paced and boring somewhat, as nothing much happens. However, the second half was much more fast-paced, gripping and suspenseful! Characters wise – didn’t particularly like anyone (not a surprise) especially Flo, Clare’s best friend from university. Flo literally worships the ground Clare walks on and it was really annoying. Flo has her own problems, which presumably Clare helped her with but this wasn’t really explained.
In the last decade, Nora never really got over James. Ten years is a long time. Surely you’d be able to get over an ex-boyfriend during that time? Nope, not Nora. This affected her throughout adulthood. The blurb implies Nora’s secret begins to catch up with her. The secret is underwhelming. I thought it was a bigger secret than it actually was.
I had my suspicions on Clare. There just seems to be something that felt off about her, especially when Nora reflected on their past as best friends when they were younger. Clare is described as beautiful and the kind of girl who always gets what she wants. Clare wanted James Copper but she never got him. Nora did.
Highlight to reveal spoilers
So the big secret was that Nora was pregnant.
Lee. I’m sorry but this is your problem, not mine. Deal with it. And don’t call me again. J.
James always called Nora, Leo not Lee. So then why didn’t Nora figure this out from the beginning? Why has it taken her a whole decade to realise that James did not send that text?! It’s kind of unbelievable. She never confronted him; she just left and tried to move on. It did seem like Nora and James was in love but just one small text ruined everything. It’s tragic. Things could have been different.
When the mystery unravelled, I knew it was Clare all along. It just had to be her. She’s the dark horse in all of this. When James was accidentally shot, she didn’t come to his aid, crying or worrying over him. She disappeared for a bit and was supposed to be calling an ambulance but she didn’t. She was meant to wait for Nina because she is a doctor, but Clare just drove off with James dying in the car! I think it was quite clear from the very beginning who the villain in this book was.
From 260 pages onwards was definitely the best part of the book. I couldn’t put it down and had me on the edge of my seat! I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I finished reading. The author was saving the best parts for the last ¾ of the book and I could just see which direction this storyline was heading. Reading the skeletons coming out of the closet was a plot twist! With the ending, I’m not sure whether I liked it or not. It’s typical that the ending is open to interpretation.
Overall I really enjoyed the second half of this book and it was the only reason that I gave it 4 stars instead of 3 stars. Just push through the first half, as the second half is much more thrilling and fast-paced. This would make a fantastic film adaption. I recommend.