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In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Well into her adult life, Nora receives an email from the last person she expected: her ex-best friend Claire, the one who stole the love of her life away and hasn't spoken to her in over 10 years. If that wasn't bizarre enough, the email is an invitation to a hen party -- or bachelorette party.

Nora's old mutual friend convinces her to join the gang in a weekend away, but neither one of them is prepared for the off-putting events waiting to unfold. Rather than a typical weekend of drinking, strip shows, and phallic-shaped objects, Claire whisks her guests away to a secluded glass-walled cabin in the middle of the woods where they drink, play with a ouija board, and learn to shoot shotguns. And you know Chekhov's theory: If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.

The narrative of this book is steeping in suspense, making every characters' every move impossible to skim. Every step seems deliberate and with a sinister aura, especially in a dank forest setting with a transparent backdrop and a group of people who may as well be complete strangers. Juxtaposed with the happy celebration of a peppy girl's engagement, Ware creates an emotional dynamic that sets the readers teeth on edge.

Ruth Ware is often compared to Gillian Flynn -- author of Sharp Objects and Gone Girl -- and Paula Hawkins -- author of The Girl on the Train and Into The Water-- and rightfully so. It was the NPR 2015 "Best Book of the Year" and it has propelled Ruth Ware into a career of bestselling thrillers. I'd give this to any mystery reader who feels like they keep reading the same predictable plot over and over again, and wants to try something new. I honestly didn't know what was going to happen until the trigger was being pulled.

"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!"

traditional Halloween tale

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