Synopsis: Our main character, Nora, is invited to the hen (bachelorette party) weekend of a friend she hasn't seen in 10 years. Since the day she walked out of school and never looked back. Nora's curiosity gets the better of her and she agrees to the cabin-in-the-woods weekend getaway. But by the end of the weekend, she wished that she had not...
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Ruth Ware knows how to keep the reader on the edge of their seat the entire book. That is why I both loved this book and disliked it at the same time. The delivery of the suspense and the reveal was so dang drawn out! A lot of the reviews I read before picking this one up said that they had sat down and finished it in a day or 2 and that is probably why I didn't get the full effect. Don't get me wrong, the reveal was totally worth it at the end. But maybe the delivery was just a little slow for me. I fell like this book could have been delivered with 100 or so less pages than it had. It started so strong and I was totally hooked, but somewhere in the middle the story slowed to a crawl and it was difficult for me to want to pick it up over the other things I was reading. I am glad I pushed on though because the last quarter or so of the book really built back up and knocked it out of the park. So twisty (literally something happens with a car accident on a windy back road!) and unexpected. 3 out of 5 stars for pacing for me unfortunately.
This one definitely gets 5 stars for atmosphere and setting though! Man do I love a creepy house in a creepy middle-of-nowhere wood in a snowstorm. And Ware hit the nail on the head with that one. She even through in hints at a creepy past to the property. Spot on!
The cast of characters, specifically the 6 members of the hen weekend, were unique and definitely believable. Sometimes I have problems with Ware's characters so this was a win for me. She didn't choose to go with your cliched cabin in the woods cast and I was genuinely interested in each character. Nora is bit of... ok a lot bit a loner. She is an author who only ever leaves her studio apartment for a run in the mornings. But other than that she has no friends other than a long distance doctor friend she knows from high school and who joins her for the hen weekend. It seems that Nora hasn't had the desire to make a single friend or date a man though since her days in school. Apparently the break-up from her high school boyfriend 10 years ago has still left her scarred... this bit was a little much for me. I mean come on! Move on already! But we don't actually find out how that breakup went down until much later in the story. Nora was best friends with Clare in school, but this was one of those frenemy relationships. Clare was always the popular girl in school and on day one took Nora under her wing. She was always the center of attention and would often get Nora into and out of trouble. As these relationships go, Nora didn't like the person she was with Clare, but she idolized her so much that she was afraid to "dump" her. But something happened that last week of school that made Nora leave her best friend for good. But maybe Clare has changed? Maybe she wants to move past what happened to their friendship? Maybe Clare actually grew up? Overall I give the book 4 out of 5 stars for characters and character development.
I do just want to say that this book is not creepy at all! The blurb on the back and testimonials make this novel sound like a scary book and it definitely is not. The only creepy factor the book has is the setting. So if the idea of a British mystery thriller has you intrigued, but the horror factor is a turn-off, don't let that scare you off. (Pun totally intended haha!)