The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher Review

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Title: The Killing Woods
Author: Lucy Christopher (Twitter)
Publisher: Chicken House
Publish Date: October 3, 2013
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 369
Source: Publisher

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.

A new psychological thriller from the award-winning and bestselling author of STOLEN and FLYAWAY.
There will never be enough mysteries and thrillers written to completely satiate my appetite. I know this, yet when a book like The Killing Woods comes along, I hesitate for a moment and wonder if all others should simply take note of the way the mystery is set up and plays out within the pages of the novel. This book is atmospheric, tangible and inescapable in the best possible way, and I'm thrilled that this is my first introduction to Lucy Christopher's writing. She's crafted a story that's mesmerizing and haunting, but also so incredibly captivating that you simple don't want to put it down for fear of missing a piece of the puzzle that is so expertly crafted. 

Usually, I shy away from novels with two narrators, but I enjoy how Ms. Christopher did it within the pages of The Killing Woods. Both narrators, Emily and Damon Hillary, had such vastly different viewpoints that it made easy to both distinguish the two and side with one of them. And yet, while making Damon's viewpoint angry, confused, lost and vengeful, we find a sort of catharsis in him. He's so broken, and his heartless ways, at times, simply exude the depth of loss that he feels, which makes us almost relate to him more. Emily, too, felt a sort of confusion and anger over the circumstances, as well as an intense desire to discover what really happened that night and whether she'll ever be able to return to normalcy again. I must say that, of the two narrators, I much preferred Emily - perhaps because I could understand her emotions more, while Damon's felt a bit jaded and angry.

It must also be said that The Killing Woods is written so eloquently that some of the settings, including Darkwood, the location of Ashlee's murder, come alive. The words leap from the page with a biting sort of reality, dark and brooding. Rather than simply telling us about this world of darkness, we're invited in to explore it, sense it and understand it better ourselves, and there is such an innate power in Ms. Christopher's descriptions that we can't help desire to unravel this expertly crafted mystery ourselves - if it means we can stay in the world a little longer. 

If I had one qualm with the novel, it was that I felt there was a bit too much convenience thrown about the novel here and there. For the most part, the mystery and its devices were set up well, and immersed carefully throughout the story. However, at times, I felt that this beautifully-crafted mystery story was overshadowed by the convenience of a clue or two, which made me feel a bit slighted, and would remove me a bit from the story. 

Overall though, I quite enjoyed The Killing Woods, and I must say that Ms. Christopher's writing style is enough to keep me invested in her writing for years to come. I give this one a 4 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy a good mystery and suspense story with strong characterization and plot devices. 

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. I won a copy of this book from Goodreads and I'm really excited to read it, Melissa. I'll be reading it over spring break. I've heard so much about Lucy Christopher's writing, so I'm curious to see what I think of it.
    I also usually like angry POVs, so I might enjoy Damon's POV best. Also, the writing sounds stunning.
    Lovely review, Melissa!

  2. I'm liking the sound of this one Melissa, even with the convenient clue or two. I'm not typically a person that's good at solving the mystery way in advance of the characters, my mind just doesn't fit puzzle pieces together all that well, so I don't think I'd mind a little help along the way:) A 4 from you is a fabulous rating, so I'm excited to get my hands on this!

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Melissa! It didn't quite work for me as I had ridiculously high expectations of Christopher's work after STOLEN, but I did appreciate the mystery elements to this tale, as well as Christopher's gorgeous prose. Lovely review, my friend! :)

  4. I don't always mind the convenient actions/characters/etc. if the story's compelling enough. (I suck at solving mysteries within the story so I usually need all the help I can get.) Sounds good!

  5. I have been sitting on this one, and I quickly scrolled to see your 4 stars. YA thrillers are becoming some of my favorite books and now I know, I must pick up this paperback very very soon. It's a nice break from contemps from me! Thanks for the review! (Hope moving is going okay!!)

  6. I'm so glad you liked this one! I don't normally read too many psychological thrillers, but was pleasantly surprised by this book. I agree…Lucy Christopher is an awesome author. I want to read her other books now too. And I also agree with you about the settings….Darkwood definitely comes to life in this book…so creepy! Great review!

  7. I'm always surprised when I find myself enjoying a YA thriller, though I generally have positive reactions towards them. (Which is weird, really, because I'm not an adult thriller fan.) I have The Killing Woods under consideration, but you make it sound so good. I might just have to read it!

  8. I'm seeing a lot more YA thrillers this year, especially here :) But your review is more favorable than some of the others I've read. I haven't read Stolen, the one most familiar to me by Lucy Christopher. But I definitely trust your judgement especially when you praise the writing. It's usually Jenny that busts my book budget, now you, too!

  9. I really loved Stolen by this author and Jasprit sent me a copy of this book, so I'm pleased to see your positive review, Melissa. I do love a well plotted mystery and if it's full of suspense, even better. Lovely review! :)

  10. I have this one on my tbr! I really can't wait to dig in now!


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