I’ve been in such a mood lately for creepy fiction which is surprising, considering I’m a huge chicken when it comes to horror and spooky movies. What the Woods Keep seemed like the perfect read- the title alone is enough to make my hair stand on end.
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.
Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.
As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.
That summary couldn’t sound more intriguing if it tried. Dark secrets, mysterious disappearances, strange dreams and symbols, supernatural beings, and a forest that seems alive: all things that make me think this book is going to be fantastic.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
Every time I felt like the book was finally going to give into it’s creepy nature, it backpedals into boring reality. Hayden, our main character, is in denial about the supernatural events going on around her despite all the evidence pointing toward them. I was so ready to enter a world based on folklore and superstition, but it never really happened. It isn’t until the last few chapters that we really get pushed into the world that “threatens reality itself” as the summary promises, and even then it doesn’t seem to influence Hayden or the outside world very much. I quickly grew bored of the book when I realized the entire story would be this back and forth between denial (which turned into stupidity after so much evidence) and acceptance that something hinky was going on in this town.
Because she spends most of the book unwilling to connect the dots between all the strange events in her town, Hayden really got on my nerves. Overall, she doesn’t seem to be a very three-dimensional character. I didn’t find myself too attached to her and I wasn’t rooting for her. I couldn’t relate to Hayden at all which really disconnected me from the entire story. The premise of her life and her history has a lot of potential, but the author didn’t execute it as well as I was hoping. Shannon, her love interest, wasn’t fully fleshed out either. Their relationship seemed to come from nowhere. I understand that they grew up together, but being friends as kids and then falling in love with each other as teenagers makes no sense in this book. Hayden’s relationships with Del and her father were also under-developed and had aspects to them that made no sense.
I went into this book thinking I would get an interesting and creepy urban fantasy. Instead, I got an annoying main character, a boring plot, and a romance that did not seem to click for me. Any spook factor seems to go more into creating a mysterious plot base to catch the reader’s attention in the summary, but nothing seems truly expanded on in the book.
Don’t be fooled by the beautiful cover and the promises in the summary; find yourself a great creepy read and fall into that world instead.
P.S. When you find that book will you share the title with me?