In the dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house…
This is one of those books I saw sitting on the shelf at bookstores for years but it never captured my attention enough, until it eventually did. It was under “mysteries and thrillers” and I haven’t been into my usual genre fantasy as of late, so that’s that story.
Escaping the Past
Twenty-six-year-old Leonora “Nora” Shaw has done a good job of leaving the past in the past: she lives alone in a flat in London with minimal contact with old or new friends, writing for a living, (i.e. the life envision.)
During a usual day, Nora receives an email from someone she doesn’t know, asking her to a “hen” night for a bride-to-be. Nora is confused at first until seeing it’s for an old friend, Clare, whom she hasn’t talked to in ten years.
Reluctantly, Nora agrees to go with childhood friend Nina, but once they arrive at a secluded glass house in the middle of the woods with little reception and Clare’s obsessed maid-of-honor, she should’ve realized it all screamed GET OUT.
The biggest warning sign of the book is when Nora is invited to the hen weekend. Clare’s best friend, Flo, wanted to surprise Clare by inviting Nora. There’s a reason Clare hasn’t talked to her in a while and once Nora discovers the truth, it should’ve been enough of a reason to leave. She and Clare aren’t necessarily “ex-friends” but just stopped talking, like a lot of friendships do.
There are suspenseful moments and the “why” keeps you reading. However, I can’t say the ending surprised me. It’s honestly not a hard mystery to solve, and I don’t know if that was intentional or not.
Nina is a nice “relief.” She and Nora’s relationship is something that’s lasted a while and I’m glad she’s there supporting Nora when things get weird around Clare.
I might’ve liked the book more than others, just because I can relate to Nora and how she is, whether it be living on her own or sometimes stuttering under intense situations. But on the other hand, I’d like to think I could see things better than Nora because it should’ve been clear early on something wasn’t right from the minute she got the invite.
Like I said, there are tense moments and the setting is one of the reasons for that: a big, empty house in the middle of the woods. It’s a set-up for a group of people to be picked off one-by-one. I think those are the moments that get me the most: when it comes to the description of the house or Nora finding footprints in the snow during one of her early morning runs.
However, it’s not the hardest mystery to decipher. The thing that kept me reading was to know how everything played out and the truth about Nora’s past she fought desperately to keep away.