Author: Katya de Becerra
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Dark Fantasy
Format: Hardcover 384 pages
Release Date: 18 September 2018
My Rating: ****
Today it is my great pleasure to join the blog tour for Katya de Becerra’s debut novel ‘What the Woods Keep’. My thanks to the publisher Imprint & MacMillan for the advance copy for review and for Cherry Karl from Tale Out Loud for inviting me to join the tour. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerised right up to the final page.
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home―on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.
Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.
As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbours whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible―something that threatens reality itself.
You can pre-order your copy of ‘What the Woods Keep’ on Amazon at:
The book is told from the main protagonist Hayden’s point of view. The scene is set with a creepy manor house deep in the woods within a creepy town, with cryptic messages and strange freak weather occurrences. All the elements needed to create that eerie landscape that all good mystery books thrive in.
The book talks about the Nibelung’s a lot which at first I thought was a made-up mythologic race that the author had created. However, after a quick internet search of my own, I discovered that a Nibelung, in Germanic mythology, is a member of a Scandinavian race of dwarfs, owners of a hoard of gold and magic treasures who are ruled by Nibelung, King of land and mist. Learning this gave me a greater appreciation of the book and how much research the author must have done to get this book factually correct.
I really enjoyed how the author worked different scientific theories and psychological studies into the story (again, proving a lot of research was undertaken and all factually correct). Not only was I learning new things, but these scientific references show how Hayden is struggling with lining up her scientific beliefs with the paranormal occurrences which are happening around her all while she tries to make sense of her situation.
Hayden I thought was a great character. She is very serious, and clearly troubled, but at the same time you get the sense that she is just a normal teenager, albeit dealing with some rather ‘un-normal’ happenings!
Alongside Hayden is her best friend Del. I loved how Del is completely the opposite to Hayden. Where Hayden is serious and lacks experience with boys, Del is fun and flirty. They are complete opposites yet compliment each other beautifully and are probably reminiscent of many friendships out there.
As is typical with many books that fit in the YA genre, there is a love interest for Hayden, Shannon, the boy next door who Hayden spent most of her childhood with and who Hayden still holds a torch for. I found it strange however, that Hayden seems so shy elsewhere in her life yet seems over-characteristically forward when it comes to matters with Hayden. However, the love interest side of things does create a cute side-story to the mysteries of the rest of the book.
Overall I really enjoyed the first three-quarters of this book. I thought the pacing was brilliant, the story unfolded at a good tempo with bits and pieces of the mystery being revealed at appropriate times, enough to keep me as the reader guessing, but at the same time wanting to read on to find out what happens. For me personally, I thought the ending was a bit rushed. I can’t really say too much more on this point without giving too much away, but despite this I still really enjoyed this book.
This is a great read which took me away from the normal genres I tend to gravitate towards. Anyone who likes a bit of horror, mixed with a bit of fantasy, coupled with some interesting scientific and mythological facts, should give ‘what the woods keep’ a read.
About the Author
Katya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology. What the Woods Keep is her first novel.
Author website: http://katyabecerra.blogspot.com/
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