ARC Review – ‘What Lies In The Woods’ by Kate Alice Marshall

TITLE: What Lies In The Woods
AUTHOR: Kate Alice Marshall
GENRE: Thriller/Mystery
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 336 pages (hardcover)
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Macmillan Books on January 17th, 2023
RRP$49.99 AUD (hardcover)

Blurb from Goodreads:

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. They called it the Goddess Game. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had 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 worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods—no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.

What Lies In The Woods is a childhood secret concealed by trauma, deception and despair. It’s a gruesome discovery improbably folded into a fanciful kids’ game that makes innocent girls complicit in something darker than they realize. It’s the scene of a horrifying attack that causes ripple effects still impacting on people over two decades later and setting in motion something unstoppable and deadly.

It’s the debut adult novel by Kate Alice Marshall who proves to be just as accomplished in this arena as she has been with her previous YA horror books. This time around, she steers away from the supernatural eeriness that’s become her trademark and instead delves deeper into the horrors of the human psyche with richer and more complex characterization on offer. This isn’t to suggest that YA novels lack complexity, but there is a lot more to mine from a character in her thirties with a whole host of mental and behavioural issues stemming from surviving a brutal attack in her childhood! Our protagonist Naomi self-medicates with alcohol and a destructive taste in relationships to repress memories she believes are better off left unexamined, but the death of the man she helped to convict inevitably unearths hidden truths and skeletons buried in her youth.

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