The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
Released: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Chicken House–Scholastic
Format: finished copy
What really happened that wild night? Emily knows in her bones that her father is innocent — isn’t he? Before he’s convicted, she’s got to find out the truth. Does Damon Hilary, Ashlee’s charismatic boyfriend, have the answers? Or is he only playing games with her — the kinds of games that can kill?
After a Emily Shepherd’s dad brings home a dead Ashlee Parker, the entire town is quick to assume that he is the killer. But Emily knows her father would never do that, even if he does suffer from PTSD. She won’t take everyone’s snide comments and turning their backs on her anymore. Damon, the popular school prefect and Ashlee’s former boyfriend knows one thing: he can’t remember a single thing from the night Ashlee died. He, just like everyone else, assumes it was Emily’s father since he was the one to bring the body home. But after his memories slowly start coming back, he becomes more and more unsure of who did it and why.
THE KILLING WOODS is written in a dual point of view that was exceptionally done. Our two narrators are Emily and Damon. Emily’s chapters are written very properly with correct grammar and a neat font, whereas Damon’s chapters are written in a different font and reflect Damon’s true personality: rough around the edges and through the mind of a teenage boy who could care less about proper grammar. I loved how Christopher wrote her chapters. It made each voice very distinguishable and unique, and gave great insight into two different perspectives of the whole murder.
You know how sometimes you can figure out the big reveal of the killer pretty early on in some murder mysteries? THE KILLING WOODS was not one of them! I can honestly say that I really had no idea a) who killed Ashlee or b) why they did it. I had no idea. Nobody in town seemed to know why. I was left writing down lots of suspects only to second guess myself and scratch them off, and then put them back on the list again. Christopher did a fantastic job at keeping the readers and Emily in the dark. We wanted it to not be Emily’s father so badly but with his PTSD and no other motives or suspects, you are left thinking he probably is the one who did it. And then with Damon’s blacked out memory from that night, we just have no idea what went down until the clues finally add up at the very end of the book. And even once we find out who did it, we don’t learn why until a chapter or so later. The mystery had me intrigued from page 1 until the end. This book wasn’t particularly scary but it is definitely a book that has you up all night reading to try to piece this puzzle together.
Another great thing about this book is the lessons you learn from the characters’ mistakes. I want to go more into this but I can’t without spoiling something. Basically, make good choices. Christopher raises awareness to some very serious issues that hopefully readers will learn from. I’m a big murder mystery fan and THE KILLING WOODS is one that absolutely delivered. It kept me on my toes, had well-developed characters each with their own distinct personality and voice, and told a compelling story about how wrong things can go if not careful. I’d recommend this to anyone who loves the murder mystery genre and likes to be left guessing until almost the very end.
|4.5 Thought Clouds|