Alright guys, it’s a bit early, but I’m going to ratchet up the horror on this blog. It’s 51 days and counting until Halloween, but it’s also an election year so I think I can get away with this. I recently came across a book that scared me in that special way that makes you want to tell all your friends so they can read it too and join you in fear. It’s not technically a horror book, definitely more of what you’d call a thriller, but just because the terrifying parts are full of people and not zombies doesn’t make them any less suspenseful and terrifying. In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware kept me on my toes in the best way possible.
Ruth Ware recently released a new book, The Woman in Cabin 10. I saw it, thought it looked interesting, and then picked up the previous book Ware had written, In a Dark Dark Wood, because I hate waiting for new books. With authors I haven’t read before, that’s a pretty common maneuver for me. I haven’t gotten around to reading The Woman in Cabin 10, but reading In a Dark Dark Wood definitely peaked my interest in Ware’s writing.
The book starts in the middle of something going terribly, violently wrong for someone we eventually figure out is the protagonist, reclusive writer Leonora Shaw, (isn’t it odd how many novels star writers as the protagonist? It’s like there’s some strange bias in the industry…) We then flash back to the beginning of it all, Nora agreeing to go to a bachelorette party of a friend she hasn’t spoken to in ages. Everything, from the awkward meet and greet to the sloppy drunk party games gets that much more tense as you wait for the other shoe to drop and find out how things got so scary so fast.
As close as you are following the action though, Ware shows her skill as a writer by keeping you guessing, not letting things get too obvious or predictable. The story has many features of a classic parlor mystery, an isolated group of people cut off from the outside world, things get eerie, and then bam, everyone’s trying to figure out whodunnit. It’s funny how a great mystery can check off all those classic archetypes and still keep people guessing and on edge.
I read the whole book in just two days, partly because I knew my workload would soon be increasing once classes started up and I wouldn’t be able to pull any all-nighters with a book I actually liked for a while, but also because I simply had to know what happened next. I even out-read my own father, who started reading the book coincidentally before I got my copy. It used to be I’d only be able to finish my books before him because mine were shorter and had way more pictures.
It paradoxically felt great to stay up all night, tense with suspense and fear reading Ware’s book. That, I suppose, is why I’m looking forward so much more to Halloween than Election day. Fear and suspense are actually fun if you know they are just pretend and won’t have any real world consequences.