In the Dark, by Loreth Anne White

In the Dark by Loreth Anne White

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nine people are invited to stay at a luxury resort in the Canadian wilderness. One of them doesn’t even depart with the others and then there were eight… When they arrive, they find out there’s no resort but a remote derelict old lodge with no power in the middle of nowhere, there’s a storm brewing, bears and wolves around, no phone signal and a killer among them – and no way home.

Sounds enticing? To me at least, that’s an irresistible premise and, indeed, for about two thirds of the novel the execution held up all my expectations: Things escalated quickly and satisfyingly for the reader (not so much for the characters…). I was already beginning to formulate a review that would praise this book as an exciting, suspenseful and thrilling work!

Sadly, this wouldn’t hold up: First of all, I would have loved to read continuously about the developments in and around the lodge. After all, it’s a great setting and almost part of the cast itself. The narration about the lodge which tells of the end of October, though, is regularly interrupted by jumping either to early November and the search and rescue party which is alerted to the entire affair by finding a crashed plane with a body inside.

These interruptions while making some sense severely disturb the sense of urgency that builds up during the time at the lodge. Also, during the search two of the protagonists feel drawn to each other but one of them is still bound to their spouse who has been in a coma for 14 months at the local hospital. There’s no reason for said spouse to even exist story-wise apart from preventing those two people who feel a strong mutual attraction to act upon it. Meh.

Due to the large cast of characters in this book – the nine people, the search and rescue party, some cops, some children, etc. etc. – in combination with the constantly switching perspective I had some difficulties keeping track of everything happening.

The ultimate let-down, though, came after those first two thirds: At that point, we entirely leave the people struggling to survive at and around the lodge and stay for most of the remainder of the book with the search party. Right when dramatic things at the lodge were happening, we moved elsewhere. Yes, the perspective of the search party has its own appeal but it was a jarring departure from people I really started wanting to die!

Shortly before the end, we return to the survivors’ perspective but it’s too late because we already know the basics of what happened and too little as well because White needs an entire chapter to actually untangle the complex web of connections she spun.

The final niggle that cost this novel the fourth star it would otherwise have gotten is Stella’s ultimate fate (which I will not spoil for you, of course!). It’s a cheap and often-used narrative device which I’m tired of.

All in all, for two thirds, this was a truly good read but it went downhill quickly. Amusingly, the mathematics are with me: 66% of 5 stars are 3.3 stars which I’m rounding down to three out of five stars.

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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