The Killing Woods
Chicken House, January 2014
What if you were to see your father walking out of the woods carrying the body of a popular girl from your high school? This is the opening scene of The Killing Woods. It grabbed my attention from the first page, and it was easy to keep reading. It is a dark book, more so than anything I will reveal here. It is not a book for everyone.
This was my first Lucy Christopher book, her third YA novel (Stolen and Flyaway). She chose an interesting style to write it in, alternating perspective between the book’s two main characters: sixteen year old Emily, whose father is arrested for the murder and Damon, the boyfriend of the dead girl. But The Killing Woods is predominantly Emily’s story, as she struggles to discover and understand the events of that night, including her father’s PTSD.
The mystery of what really happened that night is revealed gradually, building to a surprising conclusion. Since it is a mystery thriller, I want to be careful not to reveal too much of the plot. I will say that I thought for a while that I had it figured out, but I was happy to be wrong.
The writing is lovely at times, in particular the descriptions of Darkwood, where much of the novel occurs. The woods are as much a character here as Emily and Damon.
The Killing Woods pushes the adult-content limits for a YA audience and some teens or parents may find it inappropriate for this age group. I was surprised by how little attention is paid to the dead girl’s character. I definitely wanted to know more about her. I think the novel would have been even better if it had been told from a third perspective, that of the dead girl.
Still, it was an engaging read and I read the book quite quickly.
Reviewed by Constance Reader, December 2013.