What She Found in the Woods.
What She Found in the Woods
Macmillan, 2019, pp384, [pounds sterling]7.99 978 1 52901 771 7
Lena arrives at her grandparents' home for the Summer break. She meets up with old friends, starts volunteering at a women's shelter and goes for long walks in the woods. It's clear that Lena is trying to distance herself from her previous life and that something bad happened which has resulted in her taking lots of meds. One day, whilst out walking, she meets a boy, Bo, who lives in the woods with his family. But when women from the shelter start to go missing and are found dead in the woods, Lena has to question who she can really trust, including herself.
This is a gripping and intense YA thriller with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers on their toes. Angelini builds the tension slowly and purposefully, over the course of about a month, to an explosive finale and an action packed last fifty pages. Lena is a complex character and the archetypal anti-hero. We discover from the flashbacks of her past that her dangerous scheming has previously had dark consequences. But she is also a young woman who is greatly troubled, and we see her wracked with guilt, overpumped with drugs and sadly absent of any parental love or attention. So we find ourselves, somehow, still rooting for her throughout and will her to work out who is the killer before it's too late.
The character of Bo often seems too good to be true, which makes us immediately distrustful of him and his occasional, enigmatic appearances. But the romance element of the story gives added intrigue and a sense of hope for Lena when she needs it most. Without spoiling the ending, I wish that Lena was able to find some kind of confidence in herself and take control of her own future rather than be lead by Bo. However, that thought doesn't linger for too long as I still feel shell-shocked by the drama and outcome, which is a fantastic end to an astonishing book.