As always, here is the disclaimer telling you that there are spoilers within this post. If you haven’t read this book yet, I’d advise clicking elsewhere now. If you are clicking elsewhere, why not click on my spoiler-free review over HERE on GoodReads?
What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra
Published September 18th 2018 by Imprint Macmillan
Not only am I excited to knock this one off of my January TBR, but I got to Buddy Read it with the lovely Rose (SeventyEight.Sundays). It was a pleasure having her along side me (via Instagram) to read this book! Hopefully we can do it again sometime!
This was my first Buddy Read on Instagram, and I loved being able to talk to someone about what was happening, as well as my reactions and thoughts. Usually I just write them down here, for my review and ramblings posts, so it was lovely to be able to bounce them off of a person and have that person be as lovely as you are Roz! Thank you!
So let’s begin!
Well here I am at 100 pages in, and I feel like nothing has really happened yet? There has been a lot of back-story, but none of it has really given me any insight into what is happening in the book.
I feel like there is so much more to learn about Hayden. That she has some powers or a knowledge of the supernatural, or something like that? Mainly from the obvious, animals killing themselves around her, her ability to make people enter a trance like state when she stares into their eyes. Her ability (maybe not the right word), to completely black out and commit acts of such violence that it shocks everyone. That last one makes her sound rather sociopathic or psychopathic, rather than supernatural but you get my drift. There is a dark energy about her. One that I want to know more about.
Also her friend Dell, I think there is more to her than we are being told also, who else would go to a trip to a creepy old house, to a place where potentially multiple murders have taken place?
I am finding this book easy to read, the writing style is free-flowing, perfectly paced and engaging. I love the inclusion of the therapist’s notes, of Hayden’s journal notes and letters so far, it really breaks up the reading and adds another layer to the novel itself.
I am a little dubious about how trusting Hayden was when the solicitor told her about her mums last wishes for her. Leaving her the house and three requests along with it. Hayden was so trusting, she said okay and then packed her bags and headed up to ‘The Manor’. She didn’t stop to think about the potential threat it may impose. Or even why her mother would send her back there, and what the requests may mean.
Wow, so her mum isn’t even dead, just like Hayden thought! But to make it worse, her dad’s assistant was treating her the whole time! The assistant called the dad in to work on the mums case! This book is finally starting to go somewhere. I like the level of psychological thriller incorporated into this YA fiction novel. I like books that make me think.
Soo Del sleep walks? Or was she sleep walking but also possessed by Hayden’s mothers strange radio-active power, in order to kick Hayden into gear about completing the three requests she made in her will? How creepy that Del was digging exactly where the box of blood vials were!
Side note. I am loving how there is no real love interest. It is so unlike a YA novel, for there to not be a love interest within the first 100 pages. Yes we have mention of the boy-next-door, and I want to know more about him, purely because when Hayden talks about him, she talks about how his mum and her mum had some shady secret that they shared. That His mum didn’t want Hayden anywhere near her son. Why!?
Okay, so Hayden is a Nibelung? What the heck is going on. I knew that Hayden had some magical properties, but she is the thing that her father gave up his official career for? I get that her mum was also a Nibelung, and the whole gosh darn town of Promise has Nibelung blood, but it is sort of under-whelming.
Actually, I am finding this whole book underwhelming. The relationships feel forced or fake. The chemistry between Shannon and Hayden is non-existent. For the first 200 pages, we are told that Shannon is this classic boy next door who was Hayden’s best friend and then she is forced to leave and she never speaks to him again. But when we see him, he is cold, militarised and not the person that Hayden remembered. But them boom, he changes 300 pages in and suddenly decided he cares about Hayden, but it turns out he is following orders from Hayden’s dad. But then he goes against those orders. There are just so many cliché moments in this book, I would have rather Shannon stayed indifferent towards Hayden, it kept things interesting, now it just feels like every other book.
The last 60 pages were action packed, but it felt like too little, too late. I think the first 300 pages were filled with too much back story, too much nothing happening and too much magical inuendo. In the end we didn’t learn anything about Hayden’s dad, about the institute his assistant was working for. We didn’t learn anything new about the Nibelungs, other than 2 remain on the earth after the portal is closed. We learnt a tiny bit about Hayden’s abilities (mind control and intention control) and apparently Shannon can do it too. But nothing was really wrapped up at all. Yes that leaves room for a sequel, but I think I will be giving it a miss…
This book feels like it is trying too hard, it is well written and engaging, but the content, for me, is a little lack-lustre. It feels like the writing is trying to be creepy and scary, that it wants to be interpreted as magical and mystical and mythical, but all it is achieving is a weird tale set in the woods with some magnetic feeling supernatural force.
I feel like I have been a total bitch about this book, in this post, but I did enjoy it. It just didn’t live up to the hype that surrounds it on social media. I love the writing style and the ease that De Becerra has to dump us into this world and have it flow so easily. I enjoyed the folklore elements to this book, and the way that it was incorporated into scientific research. It just didn’t hit any high-notes for me. There was no build up to the climax, there was no issues to resolve. It just felt like here have all of this information, now you are finished the book. Thanks. I don’t feel like I was taken on a journey.
The pacing is also a little weird throughout the book, it is set at a pretty consistent medium pace that makes the book easy to read, but when the action starts to pick up, the pacing doesn’t. So it feels a little off-kilter.
All in all, this was a good book, I enjoyed it, I just feel like it didn’t really go anywhere. It is such an original plot idea, I am a little let down that it didn’t go anywhere, that there weren’t any real magical exchanges or settings until the last few pages. I felt more of a connection with the Manor and the woods, than to the characters. The characters had hardly no progression or real personality, they were hard to feel for, when they themselves felt emotionless.
This book was easy to read and as I mentioned before, I did quite enjoy the writing style. But in the end, this book, just wasn’t for me.