To me, there is nothing creepier than being alone in a wooded area in the twilight. I remember coming home from class at night and having to take two buses. The second bus stop was in front of a park and I would always end up waiting and waiting for it…constantly looking over my shoulder and scaring myself with every movement of the trees. In the back of my mind, I always was prepared for someone to leap out and attack me. Thankfully, no such event ever transpired.
Darkness is always something that has scared me. Particularly when it is time to go to bed. As a child, I was often terrified to go to sleep, unsure of what the night would bring. This only occasionally happens to me as an adult, and it mostly occurs when I am in the middle of a book that has such a hold on me that I just can’t put it down.
In a Dark, Dark Wood, a debut novel by UK author Ruth Ware, and also the debut book of Simon & Schuster’s new imprint, Scout Press, is one of those such books. From the first page, it had me. Nora (aka Lee, or Leonora) is running through the woods getting attacked by branches, slipping in the snow, all the while hoping that she is not too late to stop a car. But who is in that car and why is she trying to stop it? Just the thought of running through the woods at night is unnerving to me…like a person’s worst nightmare coming true.
Next we see Nora in a hospital, badly injured, amnesiatic, and the story unfold from there. Having been invited to a bachelorette weekend for an old school friend that she hadn’t spoken to in over ten years, Nora reluctantly goes, but the weekend seems doomed from the beginning. The bash is being held at a glass house in the middle of the woods, where it feels like anyone can watch your every move. An eerie thought to say the least. But what happened to Nora in those woods? How did she end up in the hospital? And, perhaps most importantly, can she trust herself let alone anyone else?
Alternating between the events of the weekend and Nora’s stay at the hospital, In a Dark, Dark Wood is a dark, twisted psychological thriller that will leave you haunted.
Coming August 25th
“Silence is a protective coating over pain.”
The Sinclairs are always perfect. No matter what happens, they are a perfect, beautiful family. Nothing is ever wrong, even when the opposite is true. Problems just don’t exist…not for them. They believe that strength comes from burying issues and not dwelling on them. That having feelings makes a person weak. They have turned living in ignorance into an art form, and are content with such. But, is that really possible? Is that really the healthy way to live your life? There comes a point when you can no longer bury your pain. What happens then?
In E. Lockhart’s novel, We Were Liars, Cadence returns to Beechwood Island for the summer after a season’s absence due to debilitating migraines. Having no memory of the accident from summer fifteen (she is now seventeen), Cadence hopes that being around the Liars – Gat and her cousins, Johnny and Mirren – will enable her to learn the truth about what happened. There is only one thing standing in her way. The Sinclairs. Cadence is a Sinclair, and the Sinclairs have no problems. When everyone is refusing to talk about the accident, will Cadence stay in the state of not-knowing forever, or will coming back to Beechwood Island be the key to unlocking the memories that her mind (and everyone else) has tried hard to keep buried.
“Sometimes I wonder if reality splits…[if] there are parallel universes in which different events happen to the same people. An alternate choice has been made, or an accident has turned out differently. Everyone has duplicates of themselves in these other worlds. Different selves with different lives, different luck.”
“My life…is built on quicksand. It shifts from one day to the next. Things I think I know are wrong, things I am certain of, facts about my life, myself, belong to years ago. All the history I have reads like fiction…they exist, but as shadows in the dark. As strangers, they crisscross my life, connecting, disconnecting. Elusive, ethereal. Like ghosts.”
How would you feel if every time you woke, your mind erased itself? You have no idea where you are or who’s sleeping next to you. You go to the bathroom and see pictures taped up to the wall and mirror, pictures of you with this other person, smiling and aging. It’s only then that you glance into the mirror and gasp because your appearance has changed so much that you almost don’t recognize yourself…until you look into your eyes and realize that it’s you. How would you feel?
For Christine, in S.J. Watson’s debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, this is precisely the case. Suffering from a rare form of amnesia, she can retain memories in the span of a day, but once she goes to sleep they are lost and the next morning she has to go through the process of learning them all over again. Her memories are not completely gone though; sometimes they come back to her, and she writes them down. With the clock constantly running out, will Christine be able to reclaim her memories and her life for good, or will they forever be lost in the abyss of her mind?
In truly brilliant prose, Watson brings the reader into Christine’s mind as memories flood back to her and she tries to put the missing pieces of her life together in hopes of remembering what caused her amnesia in the first place. It makes you realize just how lonely and frustrating it would be to wake up every morning, day in and day out, and never know who you are, and despite those painful memories that you would wish you could forget, it is those memories that help define us, help make us who we are today, and without them, we would be lost, just like Christine.