Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is an anxiety filled psychological thriller, it makes you fill claustrophobic but yet on display. This is my second Ruth Ware novel I caught the hype train and read The Women in Cabin 10, I have to say I liked this one a whole lot better. my main complaint is it ended the mystery too soon and In the Dark, Dark Wood keeps you guessing until the end. The reviews blurbs on the cover do imply scary mainly Reese Witherspoon’s “Prepare to be scared … really scared!”, this book is a long panic attack, you are in a character’s mind living her worst case scenario with some added memory loss that really puts her on edge. The twist are mainly small but there’s a couple large ones, but the novel is mainly atmospheric. This book is scheduled to be a movie soon.

The Plot: Nora or Lenora is found in the dark woods, covered in blood and bruises, with most of her fingernails broken and battered, she has no memory other than she was a guest a a bachelorette (or the British version a hen party) at a remote cabin in the woods. Nora takes us through how she got invited to the party. Nora a Crime writer gets an invite from Clare trough her over ambitious friend Flo. Nora thinks there must be a mistake Clare had a falling out 10 years ago, she looks through the guest list and sees the one person she knows from the past, Nina they message and Nina is just as surprised at the invite as Nora. They each dare each other to go, something they will both soon regret.

What I Liked: As someone who has had bouts with anxiety, the description are right on and put you in that space. Nina was by far my favorite character, great sassy character that is not afraid to speak her mind and make a situation uncomfortable. I loved all the allegories to stages and play acting, and how it fit so well with all the reveals. I like the atmospheric tension with the setting. I was satisfied with the the reveals and reasons of the antagonist. There some great uncomfortable humor at one character’s expense that had me laugh out loud once, and chuckle. The ouija board scene is the by far my favorite scene.

What I Disliked: I felt no police would allow a suspect to have all the free reign with visitors, and the hospital administration letting almost anyone with no relation back to see a patient. The novel had some good twist but for the climax there’s a scene that is so telegraphed I kept rolling my eyes, other reviewers have really harped on this scene, it was a misstep but I didn’t let it effect my rating too much with the other twist and turns landing.

Recommendations: If you’re looking for a good solid mystery then this one works, there’s no big twist that change everything but twist that for the most part keep you guessing. I will recommend this book to people curious about what happens to your mind and body during a panic attack, if you’ve never had one. I rated In a Dark, Dark Wood 4 out of 5 stars this has restored my faith in Ruth Ware since I gave The Women in Cabin 10 3 stars.

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly a book that take real people and actions during World War II and creates a compelling work of fiction that fells very true. Lilac Girls follows three women Kasia a Polish teenager who works for the underground against the Nazis, Herta a young German doctor that works at women’s German prison camp, and Caroline an American that volunteers at the French Consulate and helps the war effort. These tails are all connected in some way and intermingle at times. Tis story is a bout the war but also after it and about how broken the war tore apart these countries. This is the first book that really deals with the war and the aftermath, where most novels stop at the end of the war, lilac girls takes place in 1939 and goes up until 1959 way after the war was over. This novel has a serious melodramatic tone but there a plethora of emotions these ladies go through some have highs when others have lows, that balance really helps with the flow of the novel.

The Plot: Caroline is a former broadway star, that now dedicates her life volunteering at the French Consulate in America. When a big star drops out last minute of a charity ball she get Paul a current broadway performer that is French. Caroline falls big for him but he’s married, there marriage has no love anymore with him living full time her and her back in France. Things are heating up between the two of them when Germany invades France. Paul can’t just leave his wife there and journey’s back with Carolines help securing a visa for them both, but things don’t go as planned. Kasia is a young Polish teenager when Poland is invaded by Germany, she’s half german half polish, which makes her not good enough she has friends that our Jewish and taken away. She ‘s young but wants to do something, she joins the underground, a resistance works to overthrow German rule in Poland. She gets caught and declares her and certain members of her family enemies of the state and sent to a Concentration Camp. Herta is a young German woman working her way to be a doctor, she wants to help people. The war happens and she gets a job at the only place that will hire her a doctor at a Concentration Camp. She soon finds out the job isn’t about keeping prisoners well but performing experiments. Will she comply and throw away every thing she believes in or not?

What I Liked: The history is mingled in really seamlessly, and really easy to follow the events. I liked that this novel doesn’t show just how badly the Jewish people were treated, but everyone else who went against Germany. The novel really explains country pride and how that is used to motivate. The aftermath of the war is very eye opening I think this is the first story that I’ve read that goes into detail about how the war messed up people, places, and finances. This story easily wraps the reader up form the start. The switching between narrators was really effective in terms of story and not confusing to the reader. The twist and turns are written really well and keep you on your toes. The acknowledgements go other what Kelly added and what she drew from with Caroline and Herta being based on the real people, it was really helpful, and neat to know how much was true.

What I Disliked: I thought there was a bit too much coincidence in the novel, you have how all the women are connected which I actually liked, but the story line had too many first time coincidences, for example there’s one scene with a lost baby, one that was taken from it’s mother at a camp and a character is sent to find, she finds the baby at the first place she looks, which I went really no exhaustive search. No characters spoke with an accent of inflection, even on attempts to speak english.

Recommendations: World War II fiction is my absolute favorite and this book is one of the better novels of it. Lilac Girls is the first in a series and I plan to read book 2 in the series Lost Roses soon. I recommend this book for historical history buff, women’s fiction this book has some kick butt female leads. The immersive writing reminded me of World War II fiction like The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars I acknowledge this books flaws but the fantastic story more than makes up for it.