The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

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.

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The Killing Woods was my second Lucy Christopher read.  Honestly, I struggled to finish Stolen because of the long detailed passages of the Australian Outback and the unsatisfying ending.  In The Killing Woods, the majority of the story takes place in the woods. Obviously, the setting plays a big role in Christopher’s work and completely adds to the overall feel of the book.  While I skimmed over the outback descriptions, I enjoyed reading about the mysterious woods.

It is within these woods that the murder of Ashlee Parker occurred.  The novel opens dramatically with Emily’s dad, a war veteran suffering from PTSD, carrying in her body. Despite fingers being pointed at her father, Emily believes he is innocent.  However, no one is certain who was responsible for Ashlee’s death.  Throughout the book, alternating perspectives of Emily and Damon (Ashlee’s boyfriend) lead us to believe different theories.  I liked that it was unpredictable, and I was constantly changing my mind on who could be trusted.  Yet, I did find it awfully convenient for the answer to be found on Ashlee’s cell phone. I wish my cell phone had that kind of battery power!  And if it was left on, police definitely would have traced it.

In middle school, I observed some classmates ‘playing’ the choking game. It terrified me, and I’m glad this serious topic is being brought to light.  In addition to this dangerous game, the book also explores topics like sex, drug abuse, under-age drinking, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you enjoy dark mystery stories, paired with danger and a twist, then perhaps The Killing Woods is for you.   Published January 1, 2014.

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