Review: In The Woods – Tana French

Cover of In The Woods by Tana French

Title: In The Woods
Author: Tana French
Publication date: 20 November, 2007
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-340-92476-1
Length: 596 pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository


You’re twelve years old. It’s the summer holiday. You’re playing in the woods with your two best friends. Something happens. Something terrible. And the other two are never seen again.

Twenty years on, Rob Ryan – the child who came back – is a detective in the Dublin police force. He’s changed his name. No one knows about his past. Even he has no memory of what happened that day. Then a little girl’s body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. For him and his DI partner, Cassie, every lead comes with its own sinister undercurrents. The victim’s apparently normal family is hiding layers of secrets. Rob’s own private enquiries are taking a toll on his mind. And every trail leads inexorably back… into the woods.

My thoughts

WOW. It’s not often a book leaves me completely and utterly speechless but In The Woods by Irish novelist Tana French has just done that. Before I start, I must say a massive thank you to Marian Keyes for the recommendation and for brining Tana French’s work to my attention, and to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of this book – it was a truly brilliant read. I’ve loved crime fiction for quite a long time and I’ve read a tremendous amount of mysteries in the past but Tana French’s writing is nothing like I’ve ever come across before.

At the risk of sounding sloppy and terribly cliché, reading In The Woods was like eating my favourite chocolate. You know, your favourite chocolate you always save for last, the one you eat with your eyes closed and at a snail’s pace in order to savour every moment. I felt the same way about this book. I was hooked on page 1 and didn’t want to put it down – but at the same time, I wanted to take my time and draw it out as long as I could, enjoying every minute of it. I didn’t want it to end.

Rob Ryan is a brilliant narrator and protagonist and one of my favourite things about this book was his friendship with his partner, Cassie Maddox. I loved the fact that Cassie wasn’t a “girly girl”. She’s been through a lot and being on the Murder squad mustn’t have been easy for her but still, she was one of the toughest characters. The two of them were constantly bickering but they’ve always had each other’s back and they’ve always been there for each other when it really mattered.

I have to say, however, that In The Woods is not warm, upbeat story. It’s dark, it’s full of secrets, it has quite a haunting atmosphere and it doesn’t have a happy ending. Even though Rob Ryan’s past plays an important part in the book, there are things that remain unsolved and his past is never fully revealed – and it might not work for everyone. To be honest, I was a tiny bit disappointed by this at first, just like many other people. Rob comes so close to remembering what happened that night in the woods but then, all of a sudden it’s taken away and we’re left in the dark again. But you know what? I loved it all the same. The novel’s atmosphere and French’s eloquent writing style makes up for it.

If you’re looking for a book that will make you stay up till odd hours of the morning four days in a row, clutching your book in a white-knuckled grip and not wanting to let go, then In The Woods was definitely made for you. It’s a brilliantly written debut novel with endless numbers of twists and turns and I can’t recommend it enough. Tana French has definitely become one of my favourite authors and I’m looking forward to reading her next book, The Likeness.


“This is my job and you don’t go into it – or, if you do, you don’t last – without some natural affinity for its priorities and demands. What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this – two things: I crave truth. And I lie. “

5 star rating
*Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of this book*

30 Responses to “Review: In The Woods – Tana French”

  1. Hey I love Chocolate cake and if this is as good..Wahoo. I was hoping you loved this as I have been anxious to hear your thoughts on it. Like you I love crime/mystery suspense and thanks to you I will be grabbing this one :)
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted..Seawitch by Kat RichardsonMy Profile

  2. Henrietta says:

    Awesome review! I can truly feel how much you love crime fiction :) Thanks for sharing this novel with us – this definitely sounds brilliant and gripping!
    Henrietta recently posted..Becoming – Raine ThomasMy Profile

  3. Lee says:

    I read this a while ago was completely blown away by it. Such a great read. I read The Likeness and honestly, did not like it as much as this one. Just got a Faithful Place and hope to read it soon. Tana French is brilliant. Just brilliant.
    Lee recently posted..Guest Post – Author Laura Bickle and the Rituals of WritingMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      Oh me too, me too! The writing style is just brilliant. I would’ve liked to know what happened to Rob all those years ago and I was gutted about him and Cassie but I still loved it and was still blown away. I can’t wait to hear what you think about Faithful Place! And I can’t wait to read The Likeness!

  4. Lee says:

    The Likeness is all about Cassie. And this is something else I love about French – each book focuses on someone who was a supporting character in the previous book. A Faithful Place centers on a side/supporting character in The Likeness, Cassie’s boss. Oooo, just chatting about this gets me excited about her books!
    Lee recently posted..Guest Post – Author Laura Bickle and the Rituals of WritingMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      Ooooo, that’s exciting! I didn’t want to read their synopsis in case they give something away but I remembered someone saying it’s all about Cassie. I’ll miss Rob but it’s such a great idea! At least it doesn’t get boring and each book is different from the previous one :)

  5. Samantha says:

    I read this book awhile back and really enjoyed it as well although I didn’t love the ending. Other than that I found the book to be quite the gripping read! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well :)
    Samantha recently posted..Wordless Wednesday (on Thursday)My Profile

  6. I love to discover a new author through such an enthusiastic review. You’ve captured my interest, so I’m going to go seek this book out. It’s fun getting to know other readers and book bloggers through #boutofbooks. — Elsi
    Elsi @ Reading in Texas recently posted..Book Blogger Hop: 17-23 August 2012My Profile

  7. […] I spent the afternoon with writing my review of In The Woods, which you can now read by clicking here. Then I went for a walk and time just flew by, I guess. I managed to pick up Watermelon in the […]

  8. Farah says:

    Nice! This sounds like a great book! Though too bad it’s adult..
    But im really glad you loved it! Thanks for sharing!
    Farah @MajiBookshelf
    Farah recently posted..Review: Over You by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus – FarahMy Profile

  9. Rachel says:

    I absolutely, passionately, love those books that leave you thinking!!!!!! I definitely want to check this book out! I don’t mind that the past is not truly remembered. I just want to read a wonderful mystery. Thanks for putting this book on my radar! Fantastic review Vicky!!!!
    Rachel recently posted..If I Lie by Corrine Jackson ReviewMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      Oh wow, thanks so much Rachel! It did make me think! Even when I was not reading it or when I had to go out, I kept thinking about it. It’s fantastic!

  10. Vicky, this is awesome!! I really have to read this one now! I love a good mystery thriller! :)

    Great review!
    Kristilyn (Reading in Winter) recently posted..ARC REVIEW: Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarryMy Profile

  11. Kero says:

    Love you so much Vicky for sharing this Mystery/Thriller. I’m not at all bothered by the fact that it lacks a happy ending or some part of it remains unsolved. It would work for me. I have read only a few Irish, and I’m eager to try some new.
    Kero recently posted..Feature & Follow (#110)My Profile

  12. Great! Thanks for sharing. I’ve added this book to my GR list right away. I love dark, intense books. I might get disappointed by the fact that some things are left open, but I’m still going to give it a shot. Lovely review :)
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted..Showcase Sunday (11). First ARC!My Profile

    • Vicky says:

      I hope you won’t! I know there are people who got frustrated by the fact that some questions remain unanswered but it didn’t bother me much. The writing is so beautiful and the whole story has such a great atmosphere that I honestly didn’t care in the end. :)

  13. Amazing! This has been recommended to me over and over, and it is still sitting on my shelf. I really need to get to it!
    kay – Infiniteshelf recently posted..The Standalong : conclusion and review of The StandMy Profile

  14. Great review! This isn’t something that I’d normally read, but I would like to branch out into this genre some more. I might have to check this author out – thank you for sharing!

    Steph @ Stepping Out Of The Page
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  15. Mandi Kaye says:

    Your review made me open GR to add it to my TBR – where I discovered it was already there! I love it when that happens. :)
    Mandi Kaye recently posted..Dawn’s in trouble, must be Tuesday 8.21.12My Profile

  16. Andrea says:

    I love crime novels! And this sounds so perfect, also the fact that it is a recommendation from Marian Keyes (can I say how much I love her books as well and would totally read anything she loves!) I’ve been hearing a little bit about this author but not enough to really push me into picking anything up by her but this review definitely has me interested in her writing. Thanks for such a great recommendation!
    Andrea recently posted..Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuireMy Profile

    • Vicky says:

      Yes, I adore Marian – and she has a great taste in books! :) Apparently the second Tana French book is even better than this one so it’s definitely worth a read! Thank you so much for the comment and your kind words!

  17. […] loved reviewing Eye Contact by Fergus McNeill, In The Woods by Tana French and Mice by Gordon […]

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