Tuesday 7 January 2020

The Woods by Vanessa Savage @Vvsavage @LittleBrownUK @StephiElise #TheWoods #BookReview @BooksSphere

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 . . .

The Woods by Vanessa Savage is published in hardback by Penguin / Sphere Books on 23 January, the paperback release is July 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

This is a very dark, and very complex thriller; filled with characters who are difficult to like, and are certainly very unreliable!

Tess is called back to her childhood home. She's avoided the place for many many years. Ten years ago Tess and her sister went into the woods near to their home, only Tess returned. Ever since that day, she has struggled to remember exactly what happened. She doesn't want to remember. However returning to the area, and meeting up with people who were associated with her and her sister has stirred up her memories. She is plagued by dreams and visions, and tiny shades of light are appearing in the darkest corner of her mind. She's remembering ....

Not only is the plot of The Woods complex, but Tess's family are also complicated and fairly dysfunctional too. Slowly and surely, the reader learns about the difficult relationships between Tess and her step-brothers, and their closest friends. The reader is always on edge throughout her narration, never really knowing what she is remembering, or what she is trying to hide. Are her memories reliable? Are there other sides to this story?

Yes, there are and whilst the novel moves fairly slowly, the reveals are still quite unexpected.

The character building is powerfully and skilfully done, this author's ability to slowly but surely build up each one of them is excellent.
The setting is perfect, and will make anyone think twice about venturing into any woodland! There's a creepiness that pervades the story whenever the dark woods are mentioned. This a woodland of towering trees that watch over; not a green and pleasant space for a family picnic, by any means.

Whilst I do prefer a story that moves just a little faster than this one, I really admire the author's character building and scene setting. The plot is intriguing, with ending is chilling.

A stylish, atmospheric psychological thriller, often tense and always uneasy.

Vanessa Savage is a graphic designer and illustrator. She has twice been awarded a Writers' Bursary by Literature Wales, most recently for her debut novel, The Woman in the Dark.
She won the Myriad Editions First Crimes competition in 2016 and her work has been highly commended in the Yeovil International Fiction Prize, short listed for the Harry Bowling Prize, and the Caledonia Fiction Prize.
She was on the longlist for the Bath Novel Award.
Vanessa lives by the sea in South Wales with her husband and two daughters.

Twitter @Vvsavage
Instagram @vanessasavageauthor
Author Page on Facebook

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