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In a Dark, Dark Wood

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What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to yourself.

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to a hen party in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new and a haunting realization creeps in—they are not alone in the woods.

Forty-eight hours later, Nora wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?” she tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

In a Dark, Dark Wood

chapter 1

It hurts. Everything hurts. The light in my eyes, the pain in my head. There’s a stench of blood in my nostrils, and my hands are sticky with it.


The voice comes dim through a fog of pain. I try to shake my head; my lips won’t form the word.

“Leonora, you’re safe—you’re at the hospital. We’re taking you to have a scan.”

It’s a woman, speaking clearly and loudly. Her voice hurts.

“Is there anyone we should be calling?”

I try again to shake my head.

“Don’t move your head,” she says. “You’ve had a head injury.”

“Nora,” I whisper.

“You want us to call Nora? Who’s Nora?”

“Me . . . my name.”

“All right, Nora. Just try to relax. This won’t hurt.”

But it does. Everything hurts.

What has happened?

What have I done?
Author photograph © Gemma Day Photography

Ruth Ware worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language, and a press officer before settling down as a full-time writer. She now lives with her family in Sussex, on the south coast of England. She is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail (Toronto) bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10The Lying GameThe Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Turn of the Key; and One by One. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @RuthWareWriter.



An Amazon “Best Book of the Month” Pick • An Entertainment Weekly Top Ten Summer Read • A Buzzfeed “31 Perfect Books to Get Excited About This Summer” Pick • A Publishers Weekly “Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers” Pick • A Bookreporter Summer Reading Pick • A New York Post “Best Novels to Read This Summer” Pick • A Shelf Awareness “Book Expo America 2015 Buzz Book” Pick

“Prepare to be scared . . . Really scared! When I read this page-turning book about a bachelorette party gone wrong, I almost bit all my fingernails off!”

– Reese Witherspoon

“Who pulls a gun at a bachelorette party? The answers are unveiled with Gillian Flynn–style trickery.”

– O, The Oprah Magazine

“Reese Witherspoon’s making it into a movie, so read the book now. Before bed at your own risk.”

– theSkimm

“Just try to guess how sinister this plot can get (hint: VERY).”

– Marie Claire

“[It] packs a noirish punch that would make the Queen of Crime herself proud.”

– Bustle

“Ware hews [close] to the new genre of twisty-mystery women’s books.”

– Vulture

“Ruth Ware has written an exciting and amazing book that never stops circling the reader and clapping its cold hands over her eyes.”

– Peter Straub, New York Times bestselling author

“The pulse-quickening plot will keep you up until the small hours.”

– Good Housekeeping, UK

“Read it on a dark and stormy night—with all the lights on.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“An enchantingly unsettling thriller with mysterious characters and a classically spooky setting.”

– Shelf Awareness

“[It] will appeal to fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train.

– Publishers Weekly

“You’ll find it almost impossible to put this twisting, electrifying debut down . . . [The] foggy atmosphere and chilling revelations will leave you breathless.”

– Entertainment Weekly

“A sinister mood lurks in [In a Dark, Dark Wood].”


“Ware writes with verve and energy, building up the suspense and keeping the pages flying.”

– Library Journal

“Ware’s debut novel sets the stage for her to become a household name . . . Engaging, suspenseful and mysterious.”

– RT Book Reviews


– styleboston

“WARNING: This book is hot. Do not pick it up late at night or if you are in a dark, dark wood . . . Ruth Ware has a gift. This British author’s first foray into fiction is a hit . . . it delivers a punch and keeps you guessing—an ideal August psychodrama that reminds us why mysteries remain such fun—except at night.”

– New York Journal of Books

“I raced through this, totally unable to put it down . . . Dark, smart, and compulsive.”

– Nicci Cloke, author of Lay Me Down

“So gripping. So glad my hen days are behind me. It’s going to be huge.”

– Tamar Cohen, author of Dying for Christmas and The Broken

“Likely to be the next Gone Girl.”

– Surrounded by Books

“If the premise might be the sort that Agatha Christie would have toyed with had she been a twenty-first-century graduate, Ware’s analysis of the power games some women revel in—and the toxicity in the undertow of some female friendships—is more reminiscent of Sophie Hannah, Christobel Kent, or even Gillian Flynn and Harriet Lane.”

– Independent

“The best thing about In A Dark, Dark Wood is the eerie atmosphere it creates for this ill-fated weekend, never overwrought, just ominous enough, the glass house where the guests are trapped ‘dark and silent, blending into the trees, almost invisible.’”


More books from this author: Ruth Ware