Today is my stop on the ultimate blog tour for Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick, and I am excited to be sharing my review with you all.
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 Incy Wincy 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…
Being a fan of adult horror, I’m always a little sceptical about middle grade horrors, as they can be a little hit and miss on the creepy/scary aspect, but I was very excited when Dave announced this tour because Dread Wood sounded great, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed!
The story starts with Angelo, who is on his way to a Saturday detention. Upon arrival, he is joined for detention by Hallie, Gustav, and Naira. From first impressions, Gus was immediately my favourite character. He was very clearly the class clown, the prankster, and obviously a good laugh. He remained my favourite through out the book.
Soon after being joined by Mr Canton, things being to get weird… Mr Canton, who is in charge of the days detention is one of those teachers who wants to be friends with the kids, and tries way too hard (we all know the type). While discussing what they will be doing for their detention, the group hear what sounds like a scream/squeal, and after going to investigate, they realise that one of the school’s pigs is missing. But where has it gone? What happened to it? And why are the rest of the pigs acting so strangely? Not long after, while searching for the pig, something grabs Mr Canton and drags him underground without a trace. This is where things really start to get serious.
When Angelo comes to the realisation of what they are actually up against, and that its way of travel is underground tunnels, it gave me really strong James Herbert’s The Rats vibes, but obviously with spiders instead of rats, and a more child friendly version (The Rats is certainly nowhere near acceptable for middle grade!). This made me so excited, and definitely made me more invested in this book.
Despite being middle grade, Dread Wood is undeniably creepy. As someone with a fear of spiders, this one really got me. It was almost like I could FEEL them on me. My worst nightmare. But the group (who refer to themselves as “Club Loser”) were incredible brave under the circumstances, much braver than I would have been! They went in to survival mode, and it was great to see them really pull together and not only work as a team, but form a solid friendship along the way.
The culprits behind the horrors they are facing are revealed fairly early on, but that didn’t hinder the book at all. In fact, it created more questions, and I was desperate to get the answers. Why were they targeted? Because it was no coincidence that they all found themselves in Saturday detention. The answers were slowly drip fed to you as the story goes on, leading to an explosive and exciting climax, that will have you on the edge of your seat, and a big reveal that ties this story up perfectly.
Overall, this book was much more than I had anticipated. It was funny, enjoyable to read, and actually rather creepy. I really hope that we get more books, and that this becomes a series, because I would love to continue on a journey with these characters. This is definitely one of the best middle grade horrors that I’ve ever read.
I give Dread Wood a 5 star rating!
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.
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