Thank you so much to Dave at The Write Reads for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, and to the publishers, Farshore, for sending me a copy of Dread Wood in return for my honest opinion.
Dread Wood is an absolutely gripping page-turner that kept me utterly engrossed throughout: horror, humour and heart blended together perfectly. I’m glad I read it inside in daylight as I’m not sure I would have coped if I’d been reading it outside for reasons that will become clear when you read it – and you really must read this edge-of-your-seat, action-packed deliciously spine-tingling delight!
Classmates, but not friends, Angelo, Hallie, Gus and Naira are forced to spend their Saturday morning in school as they have all been given detention. Yes – on a Saturday! What could be worse? Well, their teacher also expects some team bonding and confiscates their phones! NOW, how could it get worse? Well, there is the matter of the terrified scream, the strange substance and the missing teacher …
And then things take a turn for the seriously scary and weird as the group begin their search locked inside the school grounds with the groundskeeper and his wife who keep humming Incey Wincey Spider; as they witness their teacher being dragged underground; and, as they find themselves being hunted, but by who, or what?
Will the children be able to work together to outwit the horrors that lurk underground, ready to attack as soon as they touch the ground? Will they uncover the real reason they have been brought together on detention?
Now this is how you do middle-grade horror! Tense, thrilling, twisting and oh so very, very creepy. It gave me Stranger Things vibes. I loved the cliff hanger chapter endings; the sudden and unexpected occurrences that made me jump; the real sense of the danger and threat that faces the team; and, the slow realisation that they have been brought together for a reason. I also loved the sharp humour shown by the children which feels so genuine and really helped to relieve the tension in more scary moments. Definitely needed to keep my nails from being bitten off!
Angelo, Hallie, Gus and Naira are brilliantly written protagonists, portrayed with a genuineness that I found really refreshing. They all have different motivations, strengths and vulnerabilities, and are dealing with a range of difficult issues including parental pressures, poverty and disability. As they find themselves facing terrifying danger, they learn the value of teamwork and, through that, open themselves to friendship. I love how the four learn to trust each other enough to share their secrets, admit their mistakes, and to find real value and strength in their friendship.
Dread Wood is an absolute corker of an adventure, brimming with just the right amount of scariness, edge-of-your-seat tension and humour that is sure to keep older children engrossed, giggling and freaked out!
About the Author
Jennifer Killick is the author of Crater Lake, the Alex Sparrow series, and middle-grade sci-fi adventure Mo, Lottie and the Junkers. She regularly visits schools and festivals, and her books have three times been selected for The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge. She lives in Uxbridge, in a house full of children, animals and Lego. When she isn’t busy mothering or step-mothering (which isn’t often) she loves to read, write and run, as fast as she can.