Ruth Ware | In a Dark, Dark Wood

in a dark dark wood ruth ware

The Book: 

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Published: July 2015 by Harvill Secker/Scout Press

Torrie’s Rating:


The Plot (Goodreads):

What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself.

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.

Click here for book spoilers for In a Dark, Dark Wood
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read In a Dark, Dark Wood, I suggest you turn back now.

The Reveal:

It was Clare.

Leonora (aka Nora, aka Lee) realizes that the text she received from James as a teenager breaking up with her referred to her as “Lee”, when James actually called her Leo. Nora had been pregnant, when she told James, he freaked out and asked for space, and that’s when Clare saw an opportunity to break them up. This makes her realize that Clare was the one that sent the break up text and leads to the revelation and confirmation that Clare set everything up.

Clare’s plan started when James revealed to her that he had played some games to get his first date with her. She saw this as a sign of love and desirability, and decided to share her own secret in return. James did not take well to the new knowledge that Clare had lied to him and Nora and caused their breakup. James says he can’t trust her, but might be able to forgive her if she comes clean to Nora. Clare says she’s planning a hen party to tell Nora in person, when in actuality she knows telling Nora will only make things worse, not better.

Clare has Flo send a “joke” text from Nora’s phone when Nora arrives to the house. Flo (the doting BFF and maid of honor) is easily convinced and doesn’t question the request. The text is to James, asking him to come to the house to talk to Nora. Over the course of the next 24 hours, Clare takes Nora’s phone to text with James (as Nora). Clare replaces the blank bullet in the shotgun with a real bullet.

Clare tapes the backdoor lock, so that the door will appear shut and locked but is actually unlocked. She uses the wind blowing the door open as an opportunity to get everyone scared and jumpy (it isn’t clear if she opened the door and pretended it was the wind or if that was just luck for her plan). When James actually arrives (through the taped door), everyone assumes he is an intruder, and Flo shoots him. After getting him into the car, Clare takes off with him alone, pretending to misunderstand the conversation with Tom. When Nora realizes Clare forgot her coat, Nora finds the blank bullet and realizes that Clare was the one that caused the shooting. Nora is concerned for James’ safety and runs after the car. Upon catching up with them, Clare lets Nora in the car, but then tries to run the car into a tree (Clare is the only one wearing seatbelt). Nora struggles with Clare to keep the on the road.

After being in the hospital a few days (and the cops considering her a suspect), Nora goes to the house to jog her memory. She remembers the blank bullet she found. Clare finds Nora at the house and tries to drug her, only for Nora to escape and Clare to get into another car accident.

Flo commits suicide when she realizes that the “joke” text she sent for Clare actually started the entire plan.

Torrie’s Review:

Reviewing out of 5 stars is really challenging for me. I read this book in one day, because the writing was fantastic, and I really wanted to know if my guesses were right. They were. I guessed most details of the ending by halfway through the book. I prefer to be surprised, so that is why I decided on 3 stars, though for quality of writing and how engaging this was, it really should get 4. I will say, there was a brief bit toward the end that had me questioning my guess, but ultimately, it was clear that I was on the right track early on.

This book did a great job of setting up the characters, fleshing out the scene, and hiding hints along the way. I think some of the hints were a bit too heavy handed, and that’s why it was so easy to guess what was going to happen. I would still recommend reading this, especially if you’re someone who likes solving the mystery on your own! If you’re looking for a surprising twist, don’t expect to find it here. Oh and I do love a good British setting!

Meet Guest Reviewer by Torrie Lewine

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