The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

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The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A girl fights to clear her father's name when he's accused of killing her classmate, but is she prepared for the secrets she might uncover if she goes digging for answers? An excellent, engaging read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Chicken House
ISBN: 978-1906427726

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Popular girl Ashlee is dead. They’re saying the father of her less-popular classmate Emily is responsible. She cannot accept this, cannot accept that her own father could do something like that, but all the evidence points that way. Emily can’t stop thinking about it. She starts investigating what really happened in the woods that night, but the more she uncovers, the more uneasy she feels. Could her father actually be the one who killed Ashlee? And should she stop digging before she unearths something really unpleasant?

Damon is bereft. His girlfriend has been murdered, and while the guy who did it is behind bars, he’s still left troubled by the events of that night. He was the last person to see Ashlee alive… he thinks. But why can’t he remember the details? And if his mind has hidden those memories for a reason, will it do more harm than good if he tries to recall what happened?

The book flits between Emily’s voice and Damon’s, to great effect. At the start they are on two different sides, Emily convinced of her father’s innocence and Damon of his guilt. But, as they both start to delve deeper into what went on in the woods, their perspectives change.

This is a really interesting, really unique bit of young adult fiction. It’s a proper whodunit that keeps you guessing right up until the end, both for the culprit and the motive as lots of strings of information along the way point to different people for different reasons. Just when I thought I had it sorted, something else would come to light that made me reconsider what I thought I knew. The clues are key, but they can also be interpreted in various ways, so you can see why the characters jump to the conclusions they do, based on the evidence available at the time. This wasn’t a book where I saw the ending coming, but it also wasn’t a book where the ending is so outlandish you feel let down. Now I know how it ends, I want to re-read it because I’m sure there are more clues to be had that I, and Emily and Damon, failed to see first time.

This is a book set in a nondescript town and it took me a while to work out if it was supposed to be the USA or the UK. It’s a timely book because of the links to the army and soldiers returning from war, but ultimately it’s about family relationships and friendships, and how well you really know your nearest and dearest.

One of the themes of the book is The Game that is played by some of the characters. It’s mentioned in passing almost right from the start, but it’s a long way in before you find out actually what it involves, and I was quite surprised by the content, expecting something different, perhaps with more members, bigger teams. Again, now I know the ins and outs I think I’d find a second reading quite different.

This is the sort of book that stays with you after reading. The writing is very atmospheric, so even reading it on a blazing hot summer day, I could imagine myself deep in the dark, wet woods somewhere, hiding from the rain beneath the trees, getting muddy, and being frightened by shadows.

I really enjoyed this book, in part because it was so easy to read and to engage with, and in part because the story turned out to be rather interesting. It’s probably not the sort of book that would have existed when I was a teen because of the nature of what goes on (just like books in my mother’s era never featured mobile phones) but it’s bang on for today’s young, and not so young, readers. Highly recommended.

Thanks go to the publishers for sending us this book.

Murky things go on in the woods as If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch shows us. It's a great read, as is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Buy The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher at


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