What Lies in the Woods, by Kate Alice Marshall

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Kate Alice Marshall, and Macmillan Audio for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

New to the world of Kate Alice Marshall, I reached for this ARC in hopes of finding a new author with whom I can connect. Marshall’s eerie story pulled me in from the opening pages and I did not want to let go until all was revealed. An intense thriller that leave the reader wondering if all is as it seems until much is revealed with reorganised memories. Impactful and well worth my time, Kate Alice Marshall is an author worth noting.

Naomi Shaw had a magical childhood, which culminated in the summer of her eleventh year. It was then that she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, played in the woods, creating a magical game all their own. It was also that summer when Naomi was attacked and almost killed, leading to the capture of a serial killer who had been racking up victims for a significant time. Naomi, a victim in her own right, testified and put the killer away, making her a hero and one who always fought the limelight, even when she did not want it.

It was two decades later that Naomi received a call that the man who had attacked her was dead. Finally she could breathe a sigh of relief, though changing her name had already helped with that. Naomi returns to her hometown to tie off some of the loose ends, particularly with Cassidy and Olivia. However, the suddenly apparent suicide of Olivia with a note apologising for being a ‘part of the lies’ turns the tables on everything from that summer twenty years ago. Might the girls have used their young age and the wave of publicity around the serial killer to point the finger at the wrong man?

As the truth comes crashing down on Naomi, she must relive the past and piece things together in the correct order, no matter how painful it might be. Chilling as it seems, the truth must come out, but Naomi wants to be in charge of its dissemination, as it will surely tarnish her image. However, a man has died in prison who might have been innocent of all crimes, as three girls lapped up the stardom their victimhood brought along with it. Marshall tells an electrifying story and keeps the reader in the centre of things as they come to fruition.

New authors can be a joy to a reader who has experience in specific genre. Well-paced stories that attract attention with ease make for an exciting adventure and leaves readers thirsting for more. Kate Alice Marshall did that for me, introducing her writing in such a way that it is hard to stop once the momentum takes over.

A strong narrative is at the heart of the reading experience, keeping me hooked from the opening page. The premise, a young girl captured and almost killed, had me wanting to know more, even as the narrative was slow to reveal truths. Building with decent characters, all of whom had a story of their own, as well as flashback moments that fill in the blanks, I kept wanting to learn a little more. A plot that never stayed clearly pointed in one direction had me hoping to get to the truth, while perceived reality dominated. Marshall has me wanting to read more of her work, as soon as I can get my hands on it, as this was one thriller that will stay with me for a while.

Kudos, Madam Marshall, for leaving that indelible mark and making me want to get deeper into your writing. I can only hope there is more to come, as this was a reading experience I will be sharing with others.