Cover Image: What Lies in the Woods

What Lies in the Woods

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Member Reviews

This was my first five star read of 2023. It had everything you want in a murder mystery plus some. Our MC was a survivor of an attack when she was only a child. Seventeen stab wounds and the ability to not only survive but name a wanted killer her attacker sure did put her on the map. It also instilled some crucial emotional and social survival skills that outlined the last 22 years of her life. She was a riveting main character filled with trust issues, isolation, and skepticism. 

So what brings her back to the small town she had always been desperate to escape - even before the attack that solidified her reasons to leave? The killer she pronounced responsible for her attack dies. Her best friend calls her back asking for the truth to be set free. Naomi was always curious how she was able to identify her killer seeing as she couldn't remember anything about the attack besides the excruciating pain of being stabbed seventeen times. She had always been able to compartmentalize this "wounded" side of herself but returning back to her hometown opens the floodgates. 

I appreciated Naomis unwavering personality but willingness to use her brain to decipher what didn't seem right. I loved the writing of this author. The first page had me sucked in and glued to the book. Her writing is enchanting like a fantasy book but invigorating as a murder mystery should be. I had read it alone at night and was spooked at every small noise going through my house. It had me double and triple checking the locks at night. Everything about this book was perfected. It creeps into your mind and festers, calls to you. Loved every second of this read.
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Wow!! I will admit this one was a bit of a struggle to get in to for me in the beginning but man I’m glad I stuck with it. Kate Alice Marshall has woven together a wild ride of a thriller with so many questionable characters, it’s hard to know who to trust. Definitely didn’t see the many twists coming, but in the end they made sense. Such a well-written thriller that should be on every thriller lovers tbr!!
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Not a bad read! While this is the author’s adult debut, the narrative did still feel very YA, with it’s fade-to-black intimate scenes, copious flashbacks to a younger time with the girls, and an immature vibe to their grown counterparts. The villain unfortunately felt predictable from the moment they appeared on page, but there still was one twist that “got me”. A very fast paced popcorn thriller that will appeal to readers looking for an entertaining, time filling, story.
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Thank you NetGalley for providing this audiobook for an honest review. I absolutely loved this book. The narrator did a great job! Normally when I read a mystery/thriller I can usually guess the ending. This book had so many twists and turns. I kept changing my mind about what was going to happen and I was still wrong. I will definitely look for more books by this author.
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This book was ok. At times I thought I thought it had potential to be better then it ultimately was. The main reason that I found it to be just ok is that none of the characters were likable and I figured out where the book was heading almost from the beginning.
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Slow burner. I usually do not like that about thrillers, but this one made you want to keep reading because you wanted to find out what happened. Baby when you get to the end. Ohhhh childdddd. Go listen while reading!
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Three young women, a serial killers, lies, and repercussions. I'm sold already! As you should be too. You will need to sleep with the lights on for a while after reading What Lies in the Woods! It kept me up reading the entire thing in just two days. I was seriously annoyed that I had to stop reading and sleep in the middle. Being an adult is dumb. Lol. But it really was that good, it kept me reading through the entire thing. This was the first Kate Alice Marshall novel I've read, and from what I understand, her first adult thriller novel. Which for being her debut novel for adults, I found I really enjoyed it, and I hope she continues writing thrillers in the future, because I'll definitely be reading them.
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I really liked this book. I don’t usually reach for thrillers first, but generally like them once I read. This one however really pulls you in from the beginning and there’s no slow spots to speak of. I enjoyed getting to know the women in the book and learning their history as girls in school. The ending really surprised me, though I did think it had to be something like that. Really good! Would recommend!
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I do not recommend this book. And I am Editing my original review down to 2 stars. 

(New edit) Spoiler:
This story is extremely disrespectful to the real life family in Waukesha, WI…where the victim is also still alive. (See below) 
This book is also so problematic! We basically let a child rapist go and tell the reader it’s OK, they didn’t murder someone, so nothing needs to happen further. Ugh! The fact that this is a debut adult novel with all of these trigger touchpoints with no resolve to any of it and the rest of what I have to say below is why I’m notching it down.

Thank you to Flatiron Books, the author and NetGalley for an advanced eCopy for review 
—Pub date, January 2023

TW: Child sexual abuse, rape, alcoholism, hoarding, suicide thoughts, vicious friends and much more…

**** MAJOR PLOT SPOILER ALERT*** (because this just couldn’t be overlooked by me)

The main the reason for 2.0, I have to spoil the plot. Here’s the thing— after just a couple of chapters, I shared with a friend that this story had Major SLENDER MAN vibes!!! I live near Waukesha, WI where this case made national headlines. So, as I read through the book that I was enjoying for the most part, I thought I was wrong. This book is no less than 2.0 stars for the simple fact that the author did a good job of placing at least four suspects on my radar. She made me think and “plot point” in my head multiple times. HOWEVER, in the end, I was correct— and to be honest, I hated it!... I really wanted to see something come out of left field because it was so predictable to me in the beginning. I didn’t want to have to come all that way just to be right. I want to be fooled!! For that reason, and the fact that we kept hearing about all the statutory rape that occurred with our protagonist —but the perp got nothing and we received ZERO “outcome” with this major plot point! What the hell— not even in the “post wrap up”, of 10 months later. The ending was a disappointment for me in that way. 

One last thought— the story of a make-believe game in the woods between 3 girls that requires a sacrifice (and stabbing!) was too similar in nature to the story in WI. And like the story, the girl lives to tell about it and put her friends behind bars in a highly televised court case. The author could not have come up with this on her own… She keeps interviewing stating she came up with it on her own bc her friends played a game in the woods. Nothing was mentioned in the acknowledgments about the case in Waukesha nor out of respect to the family. Google it for yourself, but here’s a tiny blurb:

On May 31, 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, United States, two 12-year-old girls, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, lured their friend Payton Leutner into a forest and stabbed her 19 times in an attempt to appease the fictional character Slender Man. The stabbing took place in David's Park, a wooded area  during a game of hide-and-seek. The perpetrators, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser pinned down Payton Isabella Leutner (also known as Bella, a nickname used at the time of the crime)and stabbed her nineteen times in the arms, legs, and torso with a five-inch-long (13 cm) blade. Weier and Geyser told Leutner to lie down while they would find help, but they did not get any upon leaving. Afterwards, Leutner dragged herself to a nearby road where she was found by a cyclist.
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"To believe is to hold dear, to cherish, to claim as a truth more fundamental than fact.  I believed in magic.  We all did."

Wow.  To say this book kept me on my toes would be the understatement of the century.  I couldn't put it down and ended up staying up until 2am to finish and figure out who did it!

Being a thriller reader, I knew to keep myself wary of everyone, but every single time I thought I knew what was coming, another twist was thrown in.  I could never decide who it was.  Cass's pervy older brother, the actual serial killer, Ethan the podcaster?  Heck, EVERYONE was a suspect in this book.  Everyone seemed to be hiding something and no one was trustworthy.  I loved it.

There were so many moments throughout this book that I had to second guess my perceptions of a character's morality.  Just when you thought you had everything figured out, the author would throw in something small that made you question your opinion of someone.  Was Cody really a good golden boy and loyal husband?  Was Cass really a protective friend?  Was Liv mentally stable and trustworthy?  Was Ethan playing Naomi?  Were Naomi's memories even reliable?  Kate Alice Marshall did an amazing job outlining everyone's secrets and making the reader believe that everyone had a motive for murder.

This was an all around great thriller.  I loved everything about it.  The magical Goddess elements in the girls' game, the description of the woods, the development of the relationships between characters, the description of each character's personality and how the Marshall really made you hate some and love others,  It was just....*chef's kiss.*

5/5 stars
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Huge thank you to the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 

Overall i thought this book was strong but nothing super different than most thrillers. I did enjoy that there was so many twist and turns and unreliable memory to account for a long that (i’ve been reading a lot of books with memory issues…odd but okay). 

I like the set up of the book and how everything unfolded. The moral of the study is stop being jealous over stupid things and then don’t lie.
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Mysteries abound in Kate Alice Marshall's debut adult novel, set in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.
Seattle photographer Naomi Shaw was just eleven when she was attacked in the woods near her home town of Chester, Washington. Stabbed 17 times, she barely survived and still bears the scars from the incident — both physical and psychological. Her friends Cassidy and Olivia witnessed the violence, and together the three girls identified a suspected serial killer as Naomi's assailant, sending him to prison for life. Now, 22 years later, news of the man's death resurrects old memories among the three women. Olivia summons Naomi back to Chester, telling her and Cassidy that she wants to reveal secrets about that day and setting off a chain of events that will send their small town reeling.

At first the mystery at the novel's heart seems fairly simple — what really happened that day and why — but as Naomi peels back the layers of memory, more questions are raised than are answered. The novel is intricately plotted, with an unusually large cast of potential suspects and a liberal sprinkling of red herrings throughout. But although the story is quite involved, Marshall lays it out skillfully for the reader, keeping its complexity from becoming confusing as one navigates its many twists and turns. Reading the novel feels a bit like riding a roller coaster: enjoying a slow build-up followed by a breakneck rush to the conclusion. The book eventually becomes absolutely unputdownable, as the revelations come fast and furious near the novel's conclusion.

A great thriller relies not only on a gripping plot, but also on compelling characters, and Marshall is brilliant here as well. She imbues all her characters with depth and personality, but Naomi in particular is a marvelous balance of toughness and vulnerability. She's cynical and self-destructive — often unlikeable — yet someone readers will root for in the end. Her voice comes across as authentic, too; she knows she's damaged and has her faults, and this self-awareness ultimately makes her an appealing heroine.

Finally, Marshall's writing is gorgeous, conjuring up the misty forests of the Pacific Northwest as well as the atmosphere in Chester, a town so small its mayor is also the owner of its only sawmill. I was particularly struck by the passages concerning the girls' childhood:

We raced down narrow trails, hair flying wind-wild behind us…We made ourselves into warriors, into queens, into goddesses. Fern leaves and dandelions became poultices and potions, and we sang incantations to the trees. We gave ourselves new names: Artemis, Athena, Hecate. Conversations were in code, our letters filled with elaborate ciphers, and we taught ourselves the meanings of stones.

Marshall is known for her young adult novels, but readers should be aware that What Lies in the Woods, her adult debut, is definitely tailored to a more mature audience, with plenty of violence and rough language. Naomi consumes a lot of alcohol and engages in intimacy with random men, and also recalls an attempted rape. Although the depictions of sex aren't graphic, they're explicit enough that at minimum I'd give it a PG-13 rating if it were a movie.

Truly engrossing mysteries are hard to find, and when I stumble across one, I treasure it. What Lies in the Woods is one of the most absorbing entries in the genre I've encountered. With the exception of one small plot twist most will likely see coming, I was kept guessing "whodunnit" until the very end. This well-constructed novel is sure to be a hit with mystery and thriller lovers.
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The games we play as children can help cement friendships for a lifetime. In the case of Naomi, Olivia, and Cassidy, the magical games they played as children lead to an attack that nearly took Naomi's life, forever changing the three girls.

Two decades later, Naomi receives a phone call that the man that she claimed attacked her all those years ago has died. She is called back to the town where it happened, where she reunites with her old friends, sending the small town gossiping. It's clear the friendships have changed due to what happened in those woods, and Naomi obviously carries trauma from that night.

But the longer Naomi stays in town, the murkier the story seems. One friend tells her there is a secret to spill, and the other one seems to want to forget the whole ordeal. But it's clear that maybe Naomi doesn't remember that night exactly the way it happened. And she knows she needs to find the truth.

What I loved about this book is how it kept me wanting more. I truly wanted to see the best for Naomi, and I had to know how it was all going to end. It got every so slightly slow at times, but still was a such a great ready with a really interesting ending. Highly recommended!
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I've read from this author before and while this is her debut adult novel, the voice of it still oddly feels YA to me. That's not necessarily a bad thing because I enjoyed the plot of this the most! 

We all know this story. 3 girls go into the woods and two come out claiming the other is killed. Our girl Naomi is the one that was stabbed in the woods like 17 times or something and left for dead. She survives miraculously and all 3 girls point to a known serial killer as the attacker. He is put in prison but 20 years later he dies in that same prison and the now adult women claim that they lied about what went down in the woods. 
Ok, now see, I didn't like any of these chicas. Especially Liv, what a bitch. 
It's very obvious where this book is taking us and how it's gonna end but the lead up was good. 
I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding the goddess games and Persephone. 
I enjoyed the slight podcast bit we got but I did want more of both! 

Thank you to the publisher for the advanced copy!
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This book was so twisted, and of course that drew me in even more. What happened to Naomi when she was a child was horrible enough, but imagine realizing as adult that maybe she got it all wrong. That would make her two best friends wrong, too. After all, they swore they saw the man who stabbed Naomi 17 times. Naomi has a lot of secrets to uncover. Secrets some will kill to keep hidden. With a climax that left me speechless, Kate Alice Marshall has written a story full of pain, tragedy, heartache, and betrayl.  It will make you question everything you think you know, and wonder how much one person can take in their lifetime.
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This one is new the shelves and is a great read. It started off a little slow and I was worried it would lose some points in my book, but it caught up and earned my love back.

Naomi was brutally attacked at 11 years old while her and her two best friends were playing what they thought was an innocent game of magic and spells. Naomi returns to her hometown after the convicted serial killer and attempted murderer of Naomi dies in prison and all three girls want to have a reunion. Olivia "Liv" Barnes has had mental health issues most of her life that were only propelled by the attack and she has found out some information. More death, lies and mayhem occurs in the small town and Naomi makes it her mission to find the truth....or remember it...or understand it...or hear the truth. Which does she decide is the truth in finding out what really happened that day?

Marshall does a great job capturing sheer terror without losing a wink of sleep...this is not the type of horror produced by Stephen King, but rather one of a great psychological thriller novelist like Marshall. Don't miss this new novel that was released on 01/17/23. 

#NetGalley #WhatLiesintheWoods
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In the small town of Chester, the news of gossip and events travel like wildfire. Naomi, Liv and Cass were 11 when tragedy struck their best friend trio. While playing a game in the woods during their summer break, Naomi is violently attacked. All three girls are traumatized but have identified the same man as being responsible. The girls have several secrets they're keeping... is the identity of the killer one of them?

I really enjoyed this title. It definitely held my attention; I was dying to find out what happened next! Several twists and turns were unexpected, but I did end up guessing part of the major plot twist early on. Secretive small town trying to protect their own feels like a plot that is a little bit overdone in this genre. Overall, I'd definitely recommend this title to anyone who loves mysteries or thrillers.
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Gah, this one was good. It's exactly what I hope for in a mystery/thriller, but with the added bonus that I actually cared about the characters! I loved that it was a story that was woven into three women's very long-term friendship. At first look, it seems like these three friends have undergone a pretty serious trauma, with Naomi being attacked and the others having borne witness at just eleven years old. That is a lot, right? Obviously, things in Naomi's life have been pretty rocky since then, no one really bothered to get her any kind of real help, and now she's just sort of slogging through her life.

But the attack and her friends (and by extension, her former life) are never far from her thoughts. When she finds out that the man she and her friends identified as her attacker has died in prison, there are many, many mixed feelings and old wounds brought to the surface. So Naomi heads home, to reconnect with her best friends, and maybe try to bury her trauma once and for all.

Only nothing is as it seems. A bad man died in prison, sure. Naomi absolutely was viciously attacked as a young girl. And her friends Olivia and Cassidy are certainly always still on her mind. But when she gets back to her small hometown, she's reminded of more than just the one past trauma. And now she has to decide if she wants to figure out all the truths, or just live and let die.

The story itself is absolutely chock full of twists and kept me guessing. I kept thinking I knew who had done what, but the truth was that I had no idea. And a big chunk of the story involves the emotions and growth of Naomi, which I loved. Not only is this a mystery/thriller, but it really delved deep into Naomi's psyche and her relationships- made them part of the story, really. Could not put this one down until I knew everything, basically.

Bottom Line: What Lies in the Woods is both thrilling and emotionally provocative, a rare (and much appreciated) find in a thriller novel.
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Three eleven year old girls entered the woods and two came out. One of them had been stabbed so the other two girls got help and testified that a serial killer rapist was to blame. Years later, when the three girls have become adults, the killer dies in prison. The three women meet and discuss how relieved but worried they are about a secret they’re hiding. The mystery of their secret becomes many mysteries buried, one on top of another. This is a delightfully twisted and unexpected mystery, 5 stars!
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I received this book to review from netgally. Then later also purchased it from BOTM. I really enjoyed this book. The plot was fast paced and flowed really well. I liked the characters and enjoyed learning about them. This book was very twisty in the form of  whodunit. I was constantly readjusting my guess (although my first instinct was correct for one part at least).I would definitely reccomend this book to a friend.
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