The Woods by Vanessa Savage
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Published: 23 Jan 2020 by Sphere| Little Brown, UK
Swathi’s Rating: 4/5
About the Book:
Two girls went down to the woods
But only one came back
There’s a lot from Tess’s childhood that she would rather forget. The family who moved next door and brought chaos to their quiet lives. The two local girls who were murdered, their killer never found. In fact, the only thing she can’t remember is the one thing she wishes she could.
Ten years ago, Tess’s older sister died. Ruled a tragic accident, the only witness was Tess herself, but she has never been able to remember what happened that night in the woods.
Now living in London, Tess has resolved to put the trauma behind her. But when an emergency call from her father forces her back to the family home, Tess discovers that, sometimes, the past cannot be laid to rest . . .
10 years ago, Tessa’s sister Bella died in the woods and the police ruled it out as an accident. Tess and Bella had gone into the woods and when she woke up, Bella is dead lying next to her. To her horror, she never actually remembered what happened that night. Even after 10 years, it’s still a blur.
Now, Tess is a primary school teacher with unresolved issues, suppressed feelings and suffers frequent nightmares. When she gets a call from her dad about her step mom Julia’s dying from cancer, she’s hesitant to go home. To the place that keeps haunting her. To the place that she’d fled all those years ago. She’s ready to face them just yet.
When all of them, the pack gathers to meet the dying stepmom, Tess begins to remember bits and pieces of that horrible night and she begins to worry her sister’s death is not an accident after all! A serial killer who targeted teenage girls? Didn’t one of Bella’s friends get murdered around that time? Another girl went missing and never found? She can never trust anyone now. Can she?
Utterly gripping from page 1, The Woods is a superb suspense thriller that goes back and forth between the past and present with Tess at the center. Tess is a complicated character with a hard childhood where she was constantly bullied by her sister’s friends and undermined by Bella’s beauty. Her parents split up early and she never got over it. Finally, the death of her sister was enough to drive her out of the place. 10 years later, Tess is still suffering. Even though she’s not a teenager anymore. And so are the others in the pack.
The description of the characters, especially to differentiate the teenage mentality from the or present self and their damaged brains is written brilliantly by Vanessa Savage as she successfully manages to give creeps to the readers through the ambience and setting of the plot. None of the characters were kind or likable, as they all had their issues and was not even close to being normal. It takes a few chapters to get the ‘feel’ of the premise, but when you do, there’s no putting it down! Many thanks to Steph-Elise and Francesca from Sphere books for my proof copy. All opinions are mine.
Meet the Author:
Vanessa Savage is a graphic designer and illustrator and lives by the sea in South Wales with her husband and two daughters. Her debut novel The Murder House was bought at auction by Sphere in the UK and Grand Central Publishing in the US and will publish as a lead title in early 2019.