Sunday, 18 September 2016

Review - The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer

I started reading this book one Saturday evening and before I knew it I was shocked to look down and realise that not only was I over halfway through it but it was also very, very late. This book, The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer was a compelling, addictive and haunting tale that completely astounded me. Having never read anything written by Helen before I went into this novel not knowing what to expect but was left feeling so incredibly impressed by this extraordinary novel. 

When the book opens it’s 1895 and we read of someone’s creepy and unhealthy fascination with photos to do with death. However, soon jumping to the present day although sometimes giving us a glimpse into the year of 1995 when two girls disappeared without a trace, we meet Annie. A member of the police force, Annie is pregnant and has been ordered to stay away from work and focus on looking after herself. Restless and bored with having to stay at home, she struggles with not being allowed to get involved with police work particularly when her husband Will - also a member of the police force - is asked to investigate the discovery of a skeleton in the local woods. When a second skeleton is discovered and Annie’s niece then goes missing, Annie cannot stop herself from getting involved even if that does mean putting her life in danger more than once. 

For me, this is the sort of book that could very easily be made into a television programme with great success. Although I understand that this is part of a series and I’ve not read any of the previous books, for me this really wasn’t an issue. I very quickly became involved with the characters and the problems they were facing and I thought the book worked really well being told from the perspective of several different characters. Thanks to this I was able to build a picture for myself and try and figure out what was going to happen before the big reveal took place. All of the different narratives that were taking place throughout seemed to flow effortlessly into one another and I really felt a range of different emotions for each of the characters involved. 

One thing that this book does is deal with the paranormal which I’m going to be completely honest and say did take me by surprise at first and freaked me out a little bit. However, having now finished the novel and thought about it I can see how important these paranormal scenes were and how expertly they had been blended into the story by Helen. I found this novel to be fast-paced throughout, one where I always found myself having to read just one more chapter to find out what would happen next until before I knew it I’d reached the end. It constantly kept me on my toes and I have to say that I could not predict the massive twist that came right at the end. 

The ending of this book left me feeling entirely satisfied, although also regretful of the fact that I’ve missed out on the previous books in this series by Helen. Her style of writing was so incredible throughout this novel and I just know I would have enjoyed getting to know the characters previously. On this note, I’m not sure what Helen has for us all next but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it. If you’re looking for a spooky read this October, The Girls in the Woods is the book for you.