It's September 1st, which means in my mind, it's officially my favorite season: fall. From now on, I am Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail walking along the streets of NYC while The Cranberries play in the background. Now, I don't know about you all, but something about autumn makes me crave more mystery/thriller reads. There's just something so atmospheric about them that fits this time of the year so well. With that being said, massive thanks to Grand Central Publishing for sending me The Woods by Vanessa Savage!
Ten years ago, Tess Cooper experienced an incident so traumatic that to this day she still doesn't remember exactly what happened. All she knows for sure is that she and her sister went into the woods one summer night, but only she made it out alive. She left her small village soon after with no intention of ever returning. However, when her father calls to let her know her stepmother is dying and only has a short time left, she has no choice but to face the broken memories.Once Tess is home and reunited with a group of people she hasn't seen in years, she starts remembering fragments of what happened that fateful summer. She remembers the family who moved in next door and all the chaos that brought to her quiet life; she remembers the village was in a craze after a few local girls turned up murdered; she remembers how distant and closed off her sister became as the summer progressed. But Tess starts to wonder if the stress of her stepmother dying, losing her job, and finally being back in this dreadful place could be clouding her memory. Especially when she starts remembering pieces that prove her sister's death might not have been an accident as it was reported.
Much like the actual woods, this was twisty, dark, and branched off in all directions. There was an undercurrent of tension and paranoia throughout that kept you on edge the entire time. Tess is suffering from memory blocks that stop her from remembering certain things from her time as a teen which makes her a pretty unreliable narrator. But then bits and pieces start coming back to her, and those around her start twisting her memories and words in ways that make it seem like she's the suspect, so you really have no clue who to trust. Savage has such a way of immersing you in this story that you feel every anxiety that Tess feels. Every emotion she goes through, and she goes through a lot, hits you right in the face. I thought the mystery played out well, and while I did figure out a small part, the whole of it took me by surprise which is what you always want in these types of stories. If you're looking for a gripping psychological thriller to sink your teeth into, definitely check this out.