I received this book for free from Scholastic Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
Published by Scholastic on January 7th 2014
Genres: Thriller, YA
Source: Scholastic Canada
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Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.
A new psychological thriller from the award-winning and bestselling author of STOLEN and FLYAWAY.
After having had numerous recommendations for her other novel, Stolen, my first thought upon receiving this novel – in a genre that is incredibly up my alley – was that it was going to rock my socks off. And although my feet are still warm and snugly, I had a great time reading this novel that holds an awesome setting with a creeptastic premise.
The first thing I immediately noticed upon reading this book was how it was very much a show rather than tell type of writing – which I happen to prefer in mysteries. I love being left to my own devices in finding out exactly what came about; thinking up theories, seeing clues, and unraveling the mysteries. I feel like I’m a part of a story rather than the alternative of being told a story to. This is how I felt like when reading The Killing Woods. A girl was murdered, and Emily’s father is being convicted. What do we know about anybody in this novel? About the woods? The ominous “Game”? The whereabout of her father? At first, we know nothing whatsoever!
Let’s start with Emily. I won’t say I got to know her through and through, but what I do know of her I admired. How she stuck to her senses throughout, how she was smart enough to question what needed to be question, not blinded by her father’s confession. And on that note I also admired how she handled the whole shunning and borderline bullying of her peers on the matter. As this novel is told in dual perspectives, we also get Damon’s side of things who happens to be the murder victim’s boyfriend. I found this to be a unique perspective on such a story, and one that came with a lot of emotional conflict from grief to hate to self-blame. I’m not going to lie and say that I liked Damon. I mostly found him bizarre with his unbalanced thoughts that often turned into sexual forays (which, albeit normal for teenage boys, seemed to appear at the strangest of times in between thoughts of self-loathing and anger, or towards the person he supposedly hated). It’s a unique characterization, I admit, he just made me uneasy – and not in a good way.
The Killing Woods is definitely an exciting thriller with a great psychological aspect, not to mention an awesome setting. There’s just something about a creepy story set in the woods, no? Lucy makes it all impressively atmospheric with her simple yet piercing prose. The writing is easily one of my favorite aspects of this novel. Nevertheless, there are some plot aspects that bothered me. My biggest issue lies with the convenient factors scattered throughout which were not all realistic (ei the cell phone bit). Even though these are minor in the grand scheme of things it’s still a hindrance. No matter how eerie, how suspenseful, or how well written; one conveniently dropped clue too many can make quite the difference in the overall assessment of a mystery novel. Also, I’m not sure of the reason for the neighbour (Joe?) to be in this story. He didn’t really offer much for the number of random scenes he was given.
In the end, I will say it’s on the high-end of a 3-star rating and I would not hesitate to recommend it, especially to those who are fans of tension-filled mysteries.
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