Friday, January 12, 2024

What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall


They were eleven when they sent a killer to prison.
They were heroes . . . but they were liars.

Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder—the Goddess Game. The game became an obsession and a refuge for the three girls. That sanctuary was suddenly shattered when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer, wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes. And they were liars.

For decades, the friends have kept a secret that might be worth killing for, hidden in the forest. But now, Olivia wants to tell the whole story. Then she goes missing, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods—no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.


I was really let down by this book.  The initial premise hooked me in but the execution just fell flat.  The onset of the Goddess Game made me think of a younger version of “The Craft” but then things went in another direction and then I thought there was something like “Slenderman” at play but that was dropped too.  I found the “twists” very predictable.  I don’t want to say too much and spoil it for those who decide to read this book but I saw the one character’s reveal coming from a mile away. 

Many of the characters were un-likeable but I really liked Naomi’s alcoholic hoarder father and I wish the book explored more of his recovery process.

This book did not have Chapters.  I thought at first this was due to some technical problem with my e-book but I asked a good friend about her print copy and she confirmed there were no traditional chapters either, just a graphic flourish to signal a break or where presumably a chapter number would fall.  The lack of chapters drove me insane as I like to pause at designated markers when reading and it’s easier to go back to a certain section when there are traditional chapters.  

What this book did do well was describe how trauma can affect someone and how perceptions of events can differ from person to person.  There was also an interesting commentary on how trauma, perception and influence can affect, alter and even manipulate criminal investigations.   

I obtained my copy of What Lies in the Woods as an e-book through my local library.  You can obtain yours at retailers/libraries everywhere or check out the author's website for more information. 

I have seen lots of praise and high marks for this book but it just didn’t hit with me.  If you’ve read What Lies in the Woods, please share what you liked/disliked about! I'd love to compare our thoughts.

** ½ (out of 5) 

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