What the woods keep by Katya De Becerra
MY RATING: ★★★★
WARNINGS: self harm
FROM: Allen & Unwin
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: Neighbors 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.
WHAT I LIKED
-the main characters rationalisation
-the character dynamics and relationships
-how the story slowly became more magical
WHAT I DISLIKED
What the Woods keep is a YA book featuring some magic in a contemporary world. This novel follows Hayden as she learns that she has inherited her mothers house, but it comes with some rules. When she arrives back at her old town to see the house again, things start going awry.
The first thing I can say about this is that it wasn’t what I expected by any means. When I first got into this I was expecting a thriller with romance. Then I started expecting some fantasy. Then I was expecting government conspiracies. Do you see what I mean? This book took so many turns that I stopped knowing what to expect and ended up just following along for the ride.
This novel features a really interesting set of character dynamics, a main character who grows a lot (though she handles a lot of major things with ease which is weird) but she is full of sass and deeply buried issues relating to her parents. Then her love interest comes in and while he forgives her quickly, he does have his qualms. Add a scientist father, missing mother and snarky friend and you have an amazing cast. Even the villains were 3D and full of life. Katya created an array of characters who were easy to visualise and all seemed diverse in the thoughts and actions.
The magic weaved into this story was highly interesting. It relied a lot on European mythology and I felt like a character introduced at the end was a little reminiscent of Loki. There was an interesting dynamic of more than one world which was super intriguing and I felt like it was somewhat believable because of how ingrained in mythology it was.
Overall this was a great debut novel that really played on the edges of reality and mythology with perfect ease
I’d recommend this to lovers of low fantasy and mythology,
Until next time,