I have a blog tour post for you today! This one is featuring a spooky middle grade horror novel that is filled with creepy-crawlies: Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick! I had a great time with this fast-paced read and I can’t wait to tell you more about it.
Before we get into my review, though, I want to thank Dave @ The Write Reads and all the crew, the publisher, Farshore, and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-book in exchange for my participation with this tour and an honest review. It is, as always, very much appreciated and all opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Alright, let’s get into it, shall we?
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 . . .
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.
Though I’ve been a fan of the horror genre for awhile, I never thought to look to middle grade when I want to read a scary story. That has been my loss because the last few middle grade horrors I’ve read were properly creepy. I also loved that they were quick, engaging reads. That’s why, when the call went out for bloggers to join the tour for Dread Wood, I was instantly on board! I’m glad I joined, too, because this book had everything I love about middle grade horror.
The story follows four kids who have ended up with a Saturday detention. Angelo, Hallie, Naira, and Gus are all at Dread Wood High on the weekend for their own reasons and none of them are feeling particularly amped about it. But things go from bad to worse when the teacher who is supposed to be leading them through their detention gets snatched underground by something. The only other adults around are the caretakers of the school who seem less inclined to help and more inclined to walk around humming a nursery rhyme in the creepiest way possible. What is lurking underground? And can they work together long enough to figure it out before it gets them too?
This was such a fast-paced and wild ride, y’all! I was instantly gripped and loved all the twists and turns the book took us through. I loved the creepy atmosphere of this story. It’s not a slow burn kind of creepiness where it settles into you over time. It’s the kind of feeling you get when you think you’re being watched or you hear a noise and go to investigate. You just know a jump scare is coming and it keeps you on edge, ready for the moment to get ya. This read like watching a scary movie and I loved that about it! I will say that the plot was a bit predictable. I’m also an almost 40 year old woman who has years of watching horror films behind her. I think, for the target audience, the plot will hit just right. Also, if you don’t like to see animals harmed in a book, maybe stay away from this one.
My favorite part of this book, however, were the characters and their budding friendship. The scares were great, but I loved watching Angelo, Hallie, Naira, and Gus start to trust one another and start to bond. They were all wonderfully written characters, with a lot of nuance and a lot of heart. I enjoyed that it was a diverse cast, as well, with kids from varying backgrounds and ethnicities. The four at the heart of this story were well-rounded and interesting, but, I have to say the adults felt a little flat to me. I understand the kids were the focus (as they should be in a middle grade novel!) but I would’ve liked the adults to be built up a little more, especially given their roles in the story. Still, it was an overall great cast of characters and I can’t wait to continue their story!
Final thoughts: This was an engaging and quick read that certainly leaves you with a few chills! It reads like you are watching a horror movie and I loved it for that. The atmosphere is well done, giving a deliciously creepy vibe to the whole book. And our main cast of characters are wonderfully written. I especially enjoyed watching them develop their friendship as the story went on. The plot was a tad predictable and the adult characters fell a little flat for me. Overall, though, this was a scary good time and I’m excited to continue this series!