Monday, September 14, 2015

Book review: What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott

In today’s mini reviews feature, I share my brief thoughts Kieran Scott’s What Waits in the Woods, which was published earlier this year.

Source: Copy of the book purchased via Raru.co.za 

Book synopsis from: Goodreads
Publication date: 31 Mar 2015
Publisher: Point
 
It's a beautiful, sunny day. Callie Velasquez holds hands with her boyfriend Jeremy as they follow Callie's new BFFs Penelope and Lissa up the trail.

The four friends are embarking on a camping trip -- a trip that immediately goes awry.

They lose their way on the trail, and encounter a charismatic stranger with questionable motives.

 And when Callie stumbles upon a dead body, it becomes clear that the danger that lies in the woods is deadlier than she could have ever imagined.
 
Tensions mount and friendships are tested as these teenagers try to survive the most sinister of circumstances.

What I thought of the book:

So, What Waits in the Woods is my first Kieran Scott book and one that I, overall, found to be a compulsive read. 

In fact, despite finding the main character rather annoying (as in feel-sorry-for-myself, pampered-princess annoying), I soon warmed up to her when it became clear that, in order to survive, she would need to find her inner strength, courage, resilience and most importantly, the willpower to survive.

The friendship dynamic explored in this book, added with the fact that Jeremy, Callie’s boyfriend was not supposed to be part of the girls-only camping trip added an intense, uneasy and interesting aspect to the story. 

I won’t go into too much detail here, but suffice to say that What Waits in the Woods proved to be a novel punctuated with plenty of strained, overwrought moments made even more unbearable by the arrival of a stranger.

 The inclusion of using an urban legend as part of the story’s device added an extra level of creepiness to the book. In fact, I can totally see another story on its own based on this as a plotline (Oh please say you will, Kieran? That would be so awesome).

Regarding the culprit, it actually didn’t take me long to figure out whom the perpetrator in the story was, but that didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of this read.

In fact, if you read closely, it’s not hard to suss out the whodunit in this story, but the beauty of this is that Kieran writes the characters and story in such a way that you can’t help but second guess yourself until at least three quarters of the way in.

I thought this was very well done.

What I’m a bit on the fence with though, is the issue of how the mental health condition mentioned and brought up, was dealt with. The way it is portrayed, kind of left me feeling like people with this specific condition were being demonised. 

The reasoning behind the character in question’s motives left me struggling to suspend my disbelief and had me feeling cheated. 

And even if it wasn’t the author’s intention to portray it in the way that it comes across, I felt as if there could have been more empathy applied to the situation, and not for the mental health condition to be used as an excuse to commit a crime.

There is enough of a stigma surrounding people who are suffering from various conditions who are made to feel ashamed of it and the portrayal in this book isn’t something I’d label as being helpful.

But, that said, the book certainly isn’t an altogether bad read.

Perhaps it may be that I’m reading too much into this since I do have family members with the same condition who have shown no violent tendencies in all of the time we’ve been around this person. 

It is hard not to show a little defensiveness when it comes to seeing how certain characters with illnesses are portrayed, so I’d be willing to grant that my experience and opinion of the book could also have been influenced by that.

What I can say for certain, is that, in spite of my issues with this book, I will definitely be looking out for more books from Kieran - that’s for sure.

Give it a read – who knows, you may end up enjoying this far more than I did.

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