Cover Image: What Lies in the Woods

What Lies in the Woods

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
A good thriller that keeps you on your toes. Personally I couldn't figure out what was going to happen until it happened. Kept me engaged the entire time
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for this advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review! 

This is Kate Alice Marshall’s first adult novel, and it did not disappoint. I was very invested in this story and finding out what happened. I had a hunch from early on that this book was inspired by a very famous case that will remain nameless to avoid spoilers. The book had me questioning my own theory several times throughout even though in the end I was right, which in my opinion is a good thing. 

Overall, What Lies in the Woods is an enjoyably violent thriller that renewed my faith in thrillers. I would recommend this one to lovers of murder mysteries and those that enjoy exploring trauma and toxic friendships.
Was this review helpful?
I posted my review to Goodreads and 30 days prior to the book's release date, on December 18th, 2022. I have included links to the reviews below. I submitted my review to on the book's release date, January 17th, 2022. I have included the link to my review below. 

Thank you so much to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reader’s copy of this book!

Trigger warnings for this book: descriptions of statutory rape and childhood sexual assault, sexual assault, descriptions of a physical attack/stabbing, and mentions of suicide and suicide attempts. I hope that the trigger warnings are included in the printed copy of this book.

Since I started by listing the trigger warnings for What Lies in the Woods, I will now discuss how I felt about the inclusion of rape in the book. There will be one minor spoiler ahead in this paragraph and in the four lines after this paragraph. I will not spoil who Naomi's attacker is; I will simply reference one red herring. In this book, the fact that a character raped someone is used to shroud that character in suspicion. This raises the question, "If X raped someone, does that mean X is cold-blooded enough to commit murder?" The rapist turns out not to be the attacker.

There is even a moment where Naomi thinks the rapist is going to harm her, but he doesn't, and she realizes that he isn't the big bad in her story, after all. It left a bad taste in my mouth. 

What does that say to the reader? That, sure, X is bad, but he can’t be that bad. He’s not a killer, after all. Just a rapist. Do I need to explain how this rhetoric is harmful?

In my opinion, rape was included in this story as a plot device. There is some discussion about how Naomi is in denial about what happened to her and how she thinks that she chose to be raped, but the topic is touched on briefly. The graphic, triggering rape scene had more page time than the discussion about how Naomi dealt with its aftermath. 

I am disappointed that What Lies in the Woods perpetuates a strange, rape-downplaying message.

This is my biggest issue with What Lies in the Woods. Some other gripes I have with it are:

-That the author was clearly trying to bury the mystery breadcrumbs in excessive detail, yet that only made them stick out to me, as, finally, something of interest was being mentioned.

-This led to me figuring out not only the culprit behind Naomi’s attack in the woods, but the motive the culprit had, within the first 30% of the book. I also figured out many of the other twists well before they happened.

-It was difficult to be engaged by this text due to the amount of excessive detail included in it. I feel like I had to read through endless paragraphs that described unimportant matters before anything interesting happened. 

-Even while the climax was happening, it stopped being exciting because Naomi went into a two-page monologue about her feelings toward each of the characters in the book. It seemed like the author was trying to wrap up every single interpersonal conflict that might result from the plot twists in a neat, two-page summary. All that served to do was grind the action to a complete stop and ensure that, even in the denouement, I was going to be bored, because I knew that Naomi had already come to terms with how she felt about everyone. There would be no pulse-pounding confrontation after the climax. 

-The plot of this book is mostly just Naomi talking to the podcaster. She barely interacts with the other characters in the book, except at the very beginning and at the very end. Hardly anything happens in this book, and not in a “slow-burn, tension building” way. In a “you get an entire chapter on Naomi driving back to her apartment, photographing a wedding, then eating Thai food” kind of way. It feels like the author needed to fill pages. I wish this book could have been shorter, so that the inconsequential scenes and mountains of monotonous detail could have been cut.

I will end this review on a positive note, because there are some things I did enjoy about this book. 

-Naomi is described as a blunt character who says what she means, and her dialogue is written well. Too often in books, we either have characters who never say how they feel or characters who are just plain mean. There is not any room for subtlety with those kinds of characters. Naomi, on the other hand, is not openly rude, and every time she calls out another character, her point hits home. Naomi’s dialogue is realistic and it stays consistent throughout the story. It can even be funny! I can’t say that about the dialogue in a lot of other books.

-I was really enjoying this book during the first 10%, because Naomi’s relationship with her boyfriend, Mitch, was written well. Mitch is trying to exploit Naomi for her trauma while pretending to truly understand her, and Naomi knows it. She described him aptly, and it made me really hate him. That was the most emotion I felt toward any character in the book. Also, Naomi's dialogue during their argument made me laugh out loud because of how relatable it was.

-I liked Naomi’s relationship with the podcaster, Ethan. In many other mystery novels, the main character starts spilling their guts out to a random side character without warning. In this book, however, Naomi and Ethan's relationship growth seemed more organic. I understood why she trusted him. 

Overall, I did not like this book as much as I hoped I would. I thought this was going to be a ⅘ stars for me, so I’m disappointed. I didn’t go into this book looking for things to dislike about it, but the number of things I disliked about it kept growing until I had to face the fact that What Lies in the Woods is not for me.

What Lies in the Woods reminds me of Broken Things by Lauren Oliver, which is one of my favorite books. Broken Things follows the story of three best friends, Summer, Mia, and Brynn. Summer gets stabbed to death in the woods, which is where the three girls used to spend all of their time playing and creating a fantasy world based off of their favorite book. Years later, Mia and Brynn work together to solve her murder, using the manuscript of the semi-autobiographical fanfiction Summer had been writing to help them. Broken Things is eerie and twisted, the writing in it is compelling - to the point where even if nothing is happening, you are still totally gripped - and I was shocked by its ending. While Broken Things has a different plot than What Lies in the Woods, the two books tried to accomplish something similar. In my opinion, Broken Things was executed much better. I would recommend that you read Broken Things over What Lies in the Woods if you want a story about toxic, all-consuming friendship, fantasy worlds that turn deadly, and figuring out what really happened in the past before it’s too late.
Was this review helpful?
Naomi, Cass & Liv (Olivia) were three very different girls who became friends in elementary school. They went through something absolutely horrific when they were eleven years old. Then, they testified and put a man away for the rest of his life. I can absolutely see how it bonded them for the rest of their lives.

I enjoyed the story from start to finish. I really liked the way the author explained quite a bit of details from the girl's past. For example, she explained the Goddess Game in pieces as the story went along. It was in a way that was appropraite for that part in the story and you could understand it.  I think if it was explained all at once it would be to much to digest without the other parts of the current story. If that makes sense. I hope it does. There are so many other parts in the story that I enjoyed (hint hint Ethan) but I don't want to give away details. This is a no spoiler page here.

There were a couple of parts during the story I thought were a bit tedious. It didn't really provide details or information to the plotline. They could have been condensed a bit. I just skimmed over those parts to make sure I didn't miss anything important 🤣 I liked almost all of the characters but didn't expect it to end the way that it did. I hope there is a sequel. At least a novella length because I want to know what happens between Naomi and Ethan.

Read this Book if:
🪵 You like a book with the characters full of secrets
🪵 You don't have any trigger warnings. (they aren't overly graffic IMO but they are definately mentioned)
🪵 you like unpredictable endings
Was this review helpful?
For decades, three girls kept a secret that has haunted them ever since. After being brutally attacked in the woods as a child, Naomi and her friends have tried to move on. Going so far as to change her name to get some peace from the notoriety of being a survivor of a serial killer attack, Naomi is trying to carve out a spot for herself in the world. 

 But after shocking news, one of the girls wants to talk and they are all faced with a web of lies that has spun out of control.

A perceptive look at friendship, loyalty, and betrayal awaits you as you race to a shocking conclusion in Marshall's adult debut. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the [publisher] for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
For holiday reading I usually stick to happy romcoms, but sometimes you just want to cozy up to a good, creepy mystery/thriller.

What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall is just the ticket.

This is the story of three 11-year-old girls who survive an incredibly violent attack in their small Pacific NW town, and ID a serial killer and put him in jail. But then find themselves unable to escape either their own notoriety or their web of lies.

A profound look at trust, friendship, and learning to live with your past. A fast read, but one I will be thinking about for many months to come.
Was this review helpful?
What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall

I’ve read all of Marshall’s YA books and I was really excited for her first adult debut. She didn’t let me down. 
Three girls spend a summer exploring the woods, playing the Goddess Game but when a brutal attack occurs, the lines are blurred and the event’s of that fateful summer are brought out into the open. 

This one has a helluva twisty plot and one fierce narrator in Naomi. Secrets and betrayal are at the heart of this chilling thriller and it’s a hard one to put down.

My thanks to Flatiron Books for the gifted copy.
Was this review helpful?
What Lies in the Woods is set in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula. The setting is one of the best parts of What Lies in the Woods.

Our main character’s tragic story left her with scars and with attention, including the interest of true crime podcasters and true crime theorists on the internet.

Violence reached a small town in the Pacific Northwest and three 11-year-old girls found their lives changed forever. The girls’ friendship dynamic is a focus of the story, too.

If you like to read about unsolved crimes, murder mysteries, and the long-term effects of violent crimes and trauma, you may want to try What Lies in the Woods. I wasn’t fully drawn in to the story until about 30%, but I was turning the pages by 50%. There are multiple twists, and I predicted a couple of them, but not all of them.
Was this review helpful?
The premise of this had me hooked. Three young girls head into the woods to play their "Goodess Game," but one is brutally attacked. Is it possible none of them know who the attacker was?  Was it the known serial killer?  When Naomi returns to her hometown, where the attack that disfigured her face occured, she needs to put the pieces together. She meets with Cass & Liv to get closure. But the mystery just begins for Naomi as she is faced with questions about the past from many, including the new Cheif of Police and a Podcaster looking for a story. 
This one had me turning pages to find out who "the bad guy" was. Their were some good misdirects & red herrings that I never guessed. The nod to Greek Goodesses was an interesting bonus that made me wish I knew more about them. 
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
I thought this was a fun one! This is Kate Alice Marshall's debut adult novel and she definitely kept with the atmospheric setting like many of her YA novels. This book is twisty and keeps you guessing the whole book. I consider myself a bit of an armchair detective, but even I didn't put all the pieces together.

If you're looking for a bingeworthy, twisty, dark thriller. Look no further!
Was this review helpful?
I REALLY enjoyed this book. There were several times I actually gasped out loud!! Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, or “who done it”, the book took a new turn and I was shocked every time! A total must read!!
Was this review helpful?
This was chilling and thrilling! I was constantly second guessing myself on how I thought this was going to end. 

Naomi has survived something terrible, but still struggles because she doesn’t know the truth. And the truth is nothing like she expected. 

This was so twisty! Just when I thought I had it all figured out, something crazy would happen. I really enjoyed this and would read more from this author.
Was this review helpful?
LOVED LOVED LOVED What Lies in the Woods. 

Marshall's adult debut is a well crafted thriller full of twists and turns that you'll never see coming. Twenty-two years ago, Naomi Shaw was attacked in the woods while she and her friends, Olivia and Cassidy, played the Goddess game. It was her testimony that out the man away, a serial killer wanted for the murders of six other women. When her attacker dies in prison, Naomi returns to her hometown for the first time in years at the request of Olivia, who has been deeply troubled ever since the incident in the woods. But as she returns home, Naomi begins to question what she remembers of that day and the secret that she and her friends still carry, all as it seems like the past is rapidly catching up to the present. 

Marshall writes a vivid, creepy, atmospheric picture in the Pacific Northwest. The characters are bold and believable, and I found myself completely lost to the mystery in front of me. Absolutely thrilling.
Was this review helpful?
This one started out with a bang for me — I’m immediately jibed with the writing and the author’s voice. There are some plot points that are a little far fetched, so be comfortable with a suspension of disbelief if you pick this one up. Overall this is a solid debut and I recommend it to true crime and crime fiction fans. I can’t wait for the author’s next book.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Flatiron Books, Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for advanced copies in exchange for my honest review. 

𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙚𝙡𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙖 𝙠𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙨𝙤𝙣. 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙤𝙚𝙨...𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙬𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙡𝙞𝙖𝙧𝙨. 

Three little girls, Naomi, Cassidy, and Olivia, would go into the woods to play a made up game called the Goddess Game. One day when they went into the woods, Naomi was attacked, and the three girls put a serial killer away making them heroes. But decades later, when Naomi returns home, Olivia wants to tell the truth while Naomi wants to figure it out. 

This was my first book by Kate Alice Marshall, and I really enjoyed it. I thought the author did a good job with making every character a suspect and none of them trustworthy. I had my suspicions from the beginning. Some of which came true and others I didn’t see coming. The small town vibes where everyone was hiding something were great, and I liked the atmospheric feel of the woods. 

There were a couple of times while I was reading that I couldn’t remember who a character was so there may have been too many secondary characters that weren’t fully developed, but overall I enjoyed this thriller and liked Naomi as a character. 

I listened along to the audiobook as I read this one, and thought Karissa Vacker was a good choice for this book. She does a good job with the voices, differentiating the characters.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars

This is Marshall's debut adult thriller, and while I liked it, I didn't love it. There are some surprises, but I did find it a bit predictable and the explanations for everything were a bit too OTT for me to completely buy into.

Naomi and her two childhood best friends Cass and Liv, created "The Goddess Game" in the woods one summer when they were eleven. Naomi was attacked and stabbed 17 times, she survived and the girls all identified Allan Michael Stahl as the attacker. He was a suspected serial killer so it was a relief when he was put behind bars. Now, twenty-two years later, Naomi receives word that Stahl has died from cancer, and she goes back to her hometown to talk to her friends who still live there and maybe confront the secrets they have been keeping from everyone.

One of the problems I had with this book were the large number of characters and none of them were very well defined. At one point a name was mentioned and I struggled to remember who he was in the scope of the story. There are a few good surprises that I didn't see coming, and everything was thoroughly explained in the end so that's always a positive for me. Yet like I said above, there are some OTT things that left me alternately rolling my eyes and wondering in bafflement how, small town or not, things could be so well covered up and hidden.

The storytelling was a little uneven, long periods of time would go with nothing happening and then bam! everythinghappensallatonce It is a decent mystery/thriller novel, just not one that will be super memorable for me. I know many others have liked it more than I did, so check out their reviews. I listened to the audiobook and Karissa Vacker and her whispering aren't a good match for me, but she does the story justice.
Was this review helpful?
Wow! What a great book. I was riveted by this book from the moment I started. The narrator for the audiobook was fantastic, creating female and male voices. They made it very easy to distinguish between the characters.

I love the storyline. The mystery throughout of what happened in the woods and how. The character development was wonderful. You could easily picture them in your head and see the progression from the past to the present anticipating their personalities as adults.

I highly recommend this book, especially the audiobook version.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC of this book from Flatiron Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest feedback. This is the best book I have read in a while! Kate Alice Marshall is an incredibly talented writer. Her descriptions and characterization are spot on. All the characters are relatable, and you can actually feel the small town vibe: the bored tweens, the political big shots, the outcasts, the high school hero. There are at least three different mysteries going on here (probably more). Though I predicted two twists, I challenge anyone to predict the ending. It is so complex yet makes perfect sense. This book was quite long but absolutely worth it - I don't think anything was superfluous. I would like to see Naomi in a sequel!
Was this review helpful?