Publishing Info: January 17, 2023 by Flatiron Books, Macmillan
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: January 4, 2023
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // 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.
Wow. I absolutely loved this. Firstly, thank you to Flatiron Books / Macmillan Audio for the audiobook review copy! Honestly, I might not have picked this up if it weren’t for the publisher sending me the Netgalley widget so I’m incredibly thankful that they did! I can also credit my friend Megan for being a big Kate Alice Marshall fan because that helped nudge me into picking up a new author since I’m always a little hesitant of new thriller authors.
Okay, now the good stuff! This was my first Kate Alice Marshall book and it certainly won’t be my last. The synopsis of the book really intrigued me but it was the way that everything was handled in the book that really had me enjoying it so much. I don’t give out five stars lightly (or like… barely at all? I gave out two last year), but right from the start of the book, I really connected with the writing style. The dialogue flowed naturally and effortlessly, leading me into the lives of these characters without feeling like they were characters — plus, there was a nice amount of banter that worked perfectly in. The characters just felt REAL. Not overly dramatic, totally believable, and really made me interested in their stories.
The storytelling and writing style really painted a picture for me and I was able to lose myself in the book. Although the plot is dark (three girls were rescued from the woods after an encounter with a serial killer when they were 11 and the story picks up a series of events related to this as they’re adults), it wasn’t overly done. I can be iffy about serial killer stories now with page after page of torture, abuse, and gore, which can be fine but usually it’s overdone. WHAT LIES IN THE WOODS was just the perfect blend of bringing you into this storyline, focusing on the setting an atmosphere instead of having to hit you over the head with violence. It was exactly my vibe and I was here for every minute of it!
And the plotting — hot damn. Kate Alice Marshall knows EXACTLY how to craft a detailed and dangerous web. We get a piece of the puzzle in the beginning of the book which knocks down one domino which knocks down the next, and so and so forth. There’s always something happening in the book to keep the readers engaged so there aren’t lengthy periods of time where the characters are just running around looking for clues. There’s always a thread to follow and Naomi (the main character) keeps pulling on those threads until everything finally unravels. The book really packs some EXTRA punches in the last 25% with twist after twist. There were so many things I didn’t see coming, a few that I pieced together as we were rolling along, and it was the perfect mix of surprise and satisfaction.
For my tastes, I can’t say a single thing I would have changed. I absolutely loved this book from start to finish and I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been so enchanted by a thriller from the very beginning. Thrillers are my main genre but it’s been a long time since I’ve been so satisfied by a thriller book.
Audiobook Feedback: I really loved Karissa Vacker here! She also narrated Stacy Willingham’s thrillers A FLICKER IN THE DARK and ALL THE DANGEROUS THINGS — both of which I enjoyed — as well as ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE by Ashley Flowers and she’s quickly becoming a new favorite narrator. I think that also really helped me click with the book very quickly! It was a voice and vibe that I really liked and I’ve really loved all of her narration.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, READ…