Friday 13 September 2013

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

Saturday Night. August. 
Something was draped across Dad’s outstretched arms.
A deer? A fawn that was injured? It was sprawled and
long-legged, something that had been caught in a
poacher’s trap maybe. A mistake. So this is where Dad had
been all this time, in the woods and cutting this creature
...I tried to pick out the shape of the deer’s
body, but it was all wrong. The legs weren’t long enough,
neither was its neck. I took a step towards them. And that’s
when it made sense: the shape.
It wasn’t a deer Dad was carrying. It was a girl.
To be published by Chicken House in October 2013
359 pages in paperback review copy
Summary from Chicken House
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.
The cover of this new thriller by the award–winning author Lucy Christopher shows a young woman isolated in a moonlit wood. It has the look of an adult suspense novel: the tag line reads ‘Dangerous games are played at night...’
It certainly isn’t a comfortable read but like the picture on the front, although full of dramatic tension, there are touches of poetic beauty too. It is intended for the older teen reader but many adult readers would find the psychological story gripping.
It isn’t so much of a whodunnit as a whoknewit . The story is told from two distinct viewpoints and it takes a long and tortuous path till these converge. Like a really effective radio drama, you get right inside the two main character’s heads. Not only is there the mystery of what actually happened that night, but you get to engage with the effect of it all on Emily and Damon.
The ideal reader will not be put off by threats of violence, hints of sexual tension or by swearing. (I should point it out all of these are entirely valid in context.) They will enjoy a degree of uncertainty through almost the entire plot and be fascinated by the changing emotions and thoughts of the two young adults involved. They may well pick up on some deeper undercurrents and questions about society raised by the book.
It’s a dark and compelling read that will completely absorb its intended audience. 

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