Thank you to The Write Reads for allowing me to be part of this blog tour.
Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick
Published By: Farshore
Released: 31st March 2022
Rating: 4.5 ★
Bookshop.org / Goodreads / Waterstones
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Turn the lights on. Lock the door. Things are about to get SERIOUSLY SCARY!
The brand new must-read middle-grade novel from the author of super-spooky Crater Lake. Perfect for 9+ fans of R.L.Stine’s Goosebumps
It’s basically the worst school detention ever. When classmates (but not mate-mates) Hallie, Angelo, Gustav and Naira are forced to come to school on a SATURDAY, they think things can’t get much worse. But they’re wrong. Things are about to get seriously scary.
What has dragged their teacher underground? Why do the creepy caretakers keeping humming the tune to Itsy Bitsy Spider? And what horrors lurk in the shadows, getting stronger and meaner every minute…? Cut off from help and in danger each time they touch the ground, the gang’s only hope is to work together. But it’s no coincidence that they’re all there on detention. Someone has been watching and plotting and is out for revenge…
Middle Grade Horror is a sub-genre that I’ve been meaning to read more of for a while so, when I found out about Dread Wood I was instantly both intrigued and drawn into it. Both the cover and synopsis gave off extremely creepy vibes, and to say I couldn’t wait to get stuck into it would be an understatement.
In the story, we follow Hallie, Gustav, Naira and Angelo as they are forced to come into their school – Dread Wood High on a Saturday for detention. The foursome think things couldn’t get any worse, that is until their teacher is dragged underground, animals go missing and the creepy caretaker follows them humming the tune to Incy Wincy spider. The four of them soon discover that horrors are lurking within the school, getting stronger by the minute. The group must work together to put an end to the horror, and find out why they are being watched.
Well, this was such a creepy, terrifying tale that had me on the edge of my seat throughout. From the get-go I was instantly pulled into the sinister surroundings of Dread Wood High, and its creepy inhabitants. Also, the atmosphere within the story was both eerie and disturbing, and there were times when my heart was racing with panic, both for our protagonists and the school. There were times within the story when I started to get scared for our foursome, and I was worried about how things would pan out for them. Would all of them survive this? Would only a few? Or just one? Or would none of them? I love when a horror keeps me guessing like this, and it was one of the reasons why I find it so hard to put this book down.
The story itself is fast-paced, only taking place within a few hours. This was another reason why I was so engrossed in it, as you are automatically whisked into the action you don’t want to risk putting the book down and having to wait a while to know what happens next. The twists and turns were next to none, and I had no idea of how the story was going to conclude. The whole plot is incredibly creepy, and as someone who is scared of spiders, I was scared witless at times. Nevertheless, I powered through and found myself wanting to know answers to several questions mentioned throughout. Why were the children being targeted? How did our antagonists create these monsters? and would they be stopped? Despite this being a horror, there were several comedic moments throughout that brought a lighthearted feel to a terrifying situation. The way the children worked together, whilst trying to laugh, caused me to have a few chuckles amongst the horror. I feel that in a Middle Grade Horror you need a few moments of joy to take a break from the sinister story you are reading, and in Dread Wood this was done extremely well.
Each of our protagonists was brilliantly developed and we saw each of them grow both as individuals and as a team too. I feel like I got to know more about Angelo the most, but this was mainly because it was him narrating the story, so we saw it through his eyes. Despite this, I felt like I found out what I needed to about Gustav, Hallie and Naira. They are all struggling with different burdens, and it was lovely to see how they all supported each other, despite what they were going through together. In my opinion, I feel that this experience made them stronger, and I’m interested to see where their newly formed friendship will take them in book two.
Dread Wood was a frightening, creepy, sinister read that had me both terrified and on the edge of my seat. It’s the perfect middle grade horror, that anyone (not just children) will devour. One thing is for certain though…I will never be able to hear Incy Wincy Spider in the same way again.
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.
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