Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Book Review: The Woman in the Woods

By Sara Steven

I am safe here, in my cottage in the woods where no one knows me or my real name. All is peaceful and calm and the real world can’t hurt me – because I know how cruel it can be. But then I see her again. I see her pale, white face. Watching me. Taunting me. And then the notes begin to appear. I know who you really are… I know what you did… All of a sudden, the walls of my cottage feel like a prison, the peaceful woods around me a maze that will trap me forever. Who is this woman? What does she want? Does she know what happened during that boiling hot summer of 1976 when I made my terrible mistake. And if so, how? So many questions paralysing me with fear. One thing I do know. She must be stopped. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

This is the second book I’ve read by author J.A. Baker–and it won’t be my last! The Woman in the Woods really was the perfect psychological thriller. I can appreciate a mystery that has a slow burn. The kind that doesn’t immediately throw the answers at you. Where you have to wait and watch for the truth to unravel a little at a time. 

I.L. Lawrence is one of the primary characters, an up and coming author who had recently been in a hit and run accident, suffering from amnesia afterwards. She can’t remember what her life had been like before the accident, particularly any of the memories from her childhood. It seems in some ways, what had happened to her lends into her ability to create unique stories, as though the plotlines could have come straight from her own past. It feels that way to her when she begins to see a random stranger show up to her book readings–a woman she doesn’t recognize but seems to know, all at once.

Mary has had a rough life. Events in her own childhood have forced her to recreate herself entirely, so no one really knows who she is. She has a strong vendetta against I.L., one that has stuck around with her for decades. There are plenty of reasons to choose not to act on the impulses she has to give payback to the one person who Mary feels has ruined her, but sometimes when you hold a grudge for that long, nothing can stop you from seeing it through. 

The story is told from both I.L.'s perspective, as well as Mary’s, but is Mary the stranger who has been going to the book readings, or is that someone else entirely? I seriously had no clue! As I’d read each chapter, I tried to figure out who was who, which was pretty thrilling considering it was something I had to suss out for myself. Each moment was expertly paced out, so nothing was rushed–until it needed to be. The setting was the right backdrop, too. A lonely cottage in the woods, secluded by forest and darkness. It added to the overall tone of the book. A true thriller from start to finish. A definite five-star experience!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

J. A. Baker is a successful psychological thriller writer of numerous books, previously published by Bloodhound. Born and brought up in Middlesbrough, she still lives in the North East, which inspires the settings for her books. Her first title for Boldwood was published in December 2022.

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1 comment:

penney said...

Sounds very good! Thank you