In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware is a debut novel, and one that I enjoyed for it's fast-pace and sense of foreboding. A hen weekend (bachelorette party) invitation for a friend you haven't seen in ten years...would you go?
Here is the epigraph:
In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house;
And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark, room;
And in the dark, dark room there was a dark, dark cupboard;
And in the dark, dark cupboard there was...a skeleton!
----traditional Halloween tale
Except that, in this case, the skeleton is a metaphor. Plenty of suspense that kept me eager to continue reading. The conclusion was a little lacking in several ways that I won't discuss because of spoilers, and there were some bits that didn't seem logical or well-explained, but the novel kept me engaged and turning the pages with alacrity. I'll read Ware's next novel.
Mystery/Suspense. Aug. 4, 2015. Print version: 352 pages.
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn is, indeed, a curious beginning of a new series. I loved the first book in Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series, but was less thrilled with the follow up novels. This new series is also set in the Victorian period, but features a new protagonist: Veronica Speedwell, a lepidopterist with a decidedly modern view of a woman's role.
I really wanted to love this one and expected something a little campy and charming with a bit of mystery and suspense. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. Victoria was more annoying than I expected and a bit too full of herself to be endearing. Admiring the independence of a character who is at odds with traditional cultural expectations is one thing, but Veronica's sexual independence comes across as shallow and provoking. Stoker, whose name has nothing to do with Bram, also failed to project any genuine depth.
Without the camp or witty repartee, and without fully developed characters or a consistently engrossing plot...? A moderately entertaining way to pass the time, but well short of the first Lady Julia novel whose first line grabbed my attention and continues to please my sense of the absurd: "To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor."
I wanted something equally as lively and provocative as the first Lady Julia novel with A Curious Beginning, but didn't find it. Entertaining enough to keep me reading, but not what I hoped for.
Historic mystery/Romance. Sept. 1, 2015. Print version: 352 pages.
OOPs...I didn't realize I already had reviews scheduled for today. And so it goes...