In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – a Mysterious Invitation

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 cupboard
There was
a skeleton

Someone’s getting married. Someone’s getting murdered. Same difference. (source)


A mysterious email arrives inviting you to the “hen party” (that’s British for Bachelorette Party) of a long estranged friend. You have had no contact with this friend for ten years. The party will be at an isolated glass house in the woods with poor cell phone reception.

Do you accept?

No? What if I told you there would be ample tequila, cocaine, a seance, clay pigeon shooting, Chekov’s shotgun over the mantle, and the whole thing is put on by a manic friend of the bride who is obsessively devoted (a character in the book makes an apt reference to “single white female”) and will also flip out if you go to bed early.


Ok. How about you will learn there that the bride is marrying your ex-boyfriend. You know, the one who broke up with you when you were sixteen and you’ve been unable to have a relationship since because you’re still obsessing over him.

Need more?

What if I told you that as the protagonist, you’re almost the least interesting character at the party, second only to the actual bride. You’re a successful writer who pens murder mysteries for god’s sake and yet you possess the imagination of a potato. You will wake in a hospital bed with amnesia and a detective who irrelevanty looks like Gisele Bundchen. A 2 year old could piece the puzzle together faster than you. Once that happens, you will make the dumbest possible decisions. How you don’t end up frozen to death on the side of the road is the biggest mystery of all.

If this sounds like a bang-up time, then go ahead and click “reply” on that email, book your train ticket, and we’ll see you this weekend for one jacked up bummer of a party!

*red herrings

  • I find it incredibly difficult to bail on a book. If the book is a murder mystery, I’m pretty much stuck, and I stuck with this one for several reasons, despite the nauseating “it’s because of a man!” trope.
    • I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator, Imogen Church, is an absolute delight. Her facility in actually giving each character their own voice is spectacular.
    • The book adheres to another trope where every character is interesting except the protagonist. In fact, the two central characters are about as dimensional as a paper towel, but the surrounding characters almost make up for their wet cardboard companions.
    • I imagined the creepy glass house in the forest as the house from the remake of 13 Ghosts:
    • Image result for house from 13 ghosts
      After building the house, we had no money left over for window treatments. (source)
    • This exchange:

      “Well there’s a vacancy. We’re one down.”
      “Melanie, she’s gone. The landline’s down and it was the last straw.”
      “Christ, you’re kidding? It’s like Agatha effing Christie and the Ten Little Eskimos.”
      “Ten Little Indians. In the book.”
      “It was Eskimos.”
      “It bloody wasn’t. ” I sat down on the bed. “It was the N word, actually, if you’re going for the original, then Indians, then soldiers when they decided that offing ethnic minorities was maybe a bit strange. It was never Eskimos.”
      “Well, whatever.” Nina dismissed the Eskimos with a wave of her hand. “Is there any coffee down there?”

    • Nina is the best.

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