Thriller Thursday Audio: What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (January 17, 2023)
Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
Narrator: Karissa Vacker
I’ve never read any of Kate Alice Marshall’s YA books, but should she ever wish to make mystery thrillers her full-time thing, the genre would be lucky to have her! Her adult debut What Lies in the Woods was nothing short of amazing; my heart was in my throat from practically the start to finish of this enthralling read.
The story follows Naomi Shaw, one of three women whose lives were changed forever when they were just eleven years old. That summer, Naomi was stabbed seventeen times and left for dead. Along with her two friends, Cassidy and Olivia, who were also in the woods at the time, the trio provided the eyewitness testimony that put serial killer Alan Michael Stahl behind bars for life. More than two decades later, Naomi gets the news that Stahl has died in prison, reawakening many unpleasant memories. Needing to talk to her two best friends again, she travels back to her hometown of Chester to see Cass and Liv.
But upon her arrival, Liv is distraught, going on in an almost desperate panic about needing to come clean about a secret. Ever the more levelheaded of the group, Cass convinces her to wait until all the dust has settled surrounding Stahl’s death, but that very night, tragedy strikes. As Naomi’s emotions threaten to spiral out of control again, she must go back to that awful summer and relive the memories of what really happened in the woods that day, because the truth is, not all of it will match up with the evidence she and her friends provided in court.
Marshall handles the pacing of the plot so expertly, it’s like she was born to it. Sure, there were some predictable twists along the way, like when you sense something is wrong and expect the other shoe to drop, knowing it probably will. Still, most of what happened genuinely surprised me. Besides, the last half of the book was so packed with bombshells that ultimately you reach the point where surrendering yourself to the unrelenting madness becomes inevitable, and the feeling was simply euphoric.
It’s clear also that the author put her experience writing YA and middle grade to good use, though fair warning, things do get kind of dark. The backstory for Naomi, Cass, and Liv was done very well, focusing on the bond that was formed between the three of them when they were just young girls with vivid imaginations. Marshall does for them what Stephen King does for his characters with his stories about boyhood camaraderie. Outcasts in their own right, the girls had an obsession with Greek goddesses and pagan rituals, leading to a major discovery in the woods one day that will become their greatest secret and the lynchpin to this entire novel.
There’s so much more I could say, so much more praise I could give, but What Lies in the Woods is absolutely the type of psychological thriller where the less you know going in, the better. I also can’t say enough positive things about the audiobook. The amazing Karissa Vacker was the narrator, and she was also the voice behind another fantastic thriller I listened to recently, All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham. Well, it looks like this was another winner!
All told, I highly recommend What Lies in the Woods. It was at once exciting and unnerving, exhilarating and paralyzing. The story had me hooked and hanging onto every word.