The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was expecting more, except this would go from the sometimes confusing and overly complicated then veer into the predictable and even too simple.
Complicated, how we start with two people telling their respective what-after’s standing on the opposite of each other as they were. Things get even more confusing as we contrast her loyalty to her father to this sudden awareness for the other MC. It’s an awareness that still has me asking, why the draw? Then on the flip side: there’s a more obvious sort of confusion in that unknown thing. It’s what pushes him forward; yet it’s also his need to know that hooked me and had me reading on, despite him not being the most sympathetic of characters (yes, this is even with him one of the ones left behind.)
Complicated… but not really, with all those moments of loyalty plus them mutually suspicious of the other. It’s her loyalty for her father that’s really not complicated; there are other things linking one to another (like father to daughter, then father to mother, then them to the woods) that add something different… too bad none of that is completely explored. Again, on the flip side: there are links between Damon to Ash, then him and the rest of his group, and then even in the oddest moment: a link of him to the memory of his father (and what that meant for what he wanted for himself.)
Each link makes sense here: him missing so and so, his anger directed at so and so as well…. yet there’s a randomness to some of it. How one thread is introduced into the story but let go in favor of some more interesting/ mysterious aspect that itself is eventually let go as well. All those extra bits felt like the background music; they could have interesting in their own right but none of them are given focus, and instead they’re used to blur the main thing (the main thing being father’s did he-didn’t he mystery). My point? KW introduces so many interesting things that I wish it had stuck to fewer of those things and dealt with some specific aspect more fully
Not Complicated at all (But certainly disheartening) (And I think, maybe, that was the point?) That given the loyalty of one to another, there’s this Othering that happens. It’s allowed for their true colors to be revealed. Then there’s that whole thing on the past and its impact on their present (FOR ALL OF THEM.) Her father’s experience has reshaped who he is; It’s changed him from these happy memories she has to this shadow. It’s her father’s shadow that’s cast on her and her mother as well. Or consider the past as it relates to the other MC: there’s shadow there as well… in who his father was and thus what the son wants to be that both lead to choices being made and the mess they’ve been dealt with.
In all that, there’s this unexpected linking back to the past for all of them, so that things don’t end with her father’s confession, but stretch toward all their pasts, which in turn touches on some what could have been’s.
I‘m surprised despite the way the two opposing of views alternating as they were, there was a lack in something here. There’s predictability in some aspects here, yet not all of it is simple. Or maybe it’s not a ‘lack’ but an excess. There are so many intriguing avenues we could have gone to, yet most of them were not given the need attention to draw all of them together into a better whole.
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