I used to be the one to fear in these woods, but maybe not anymore.
Published: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 323 (Hardcover)
Series: N/A- Standalone
One boy missing, one boy dead- and a girl who couldn’t see the truth.
Be careful of the dark, dark wood…
Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.
Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.
But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.
Oh wow, am I disappointed in this.
I’ve been gushing about her previous debut novel, The Wicked Deep (TWD), for about two years and so when she released this I immediately went out and picked it up, which is saying a lot. I don’t usually buy books new unless it’s my favorite author, series, or something I just can’t wait for. But, as most of my fellow reviewers and readers will understand, I just unintentionally put it off until now.
And maybe I didn’t like this because my reading preferences have changed in the last two years, because this one did read very similar to her previous novel, but it just was nowhere as good. Or at least as good as I remember TWD being. Let’s break it down, because I have a lot of feelings.
Now the story starts out strong, and I think the crux of why I’m so upset is because it had sooooo much potential, but fell really flat. I loved the setting and the atmosphere and the history of this girl who came from a long line of witches. I was even enjoying the writing at first, which did very much remind me of TWD. I loved the spell book and history aspects, I thought those were so interesting, and I continued to enjoy them throughout the book. Ya’ll know I love a murder mystery. Animal sidekick, check.
So it started out great. I was loving it and I was sure I was going to end up loving it. I was just vibing happily for the first 25% of the book. Then it careens into the mountainside.
First, the writing that I was enjoying quickly turned annoying. You know how ya’ll complain about Sarah J. Maas’s writing? Well, this is 10x more pretentious. Like it seems like the book is 300 pages simply because of the way the author is able to overly describe things. It got old quick. And it seems like there is so little dialogue in this book that it’s literally all just descriptions. Second, I feel like nothing happens in this book. We get that little mystery but that’s kind of it. And I knew the ending about halfway through so it wasn’t as fun without that giant twist I got from TWD. It wasn’t really suspenseful, it didn’t feel very sinister, it was just eh.
Third, the romance was…. nonexistent. Literally Nora and Oliver talk like three times and it’s just her asking if she can trust him and him saying he doesn’t know and BOOM, they’re infatuated with each other. Girl, what? It was dry. It was confusing. It wasn’t romance. While I’m talking about characters let me mention I felt no connection to anyone in the story. No one felt really fleshed out, had any dimension, or was just enjoyable. So that was a bummer. The bad characters were bad for no reason, they had no backstory, and the good characters were just…. there.
Guys I hate writing bad reviews. I know they’re kind of easier to write than great reviews because I can be more technical, in a way, but I especially hate bad reviews for books that I was so looking forward to. But this book just didn’t do it for me. From the writing to the plot to the characters there just wasn’t anything for me here, and it sucks big time.
I’m going to give the author another try and read her next release for sure, and I 100% totally recommend reading The Wicked Deep, it was great. But maybe skip this one.
And if you have read this pleaseeeee message/email me! I want to discuss!
Other Novels by Shea Ernshaw