It's as if The Breakfast Club turned around and said "make it spooky". Angelo, Hallie, Gustav, and Naira have been thrown together for Saturday detention and as soon as they arrive at school something doesn't feel right. The ground rumbles, their teacher goes missing, and one of the class piglets is nowhere to be seen, can they find their way out of danger?
Thank you to The Write Reads and Farshore for arranging this excellent blog tour and sharing this outstanding middle-grade horror with me! My fellow reviewers are already posting excellent reviews and you can find them via The Write Reads on Twitter!
Middle-grade novels are always such an endorphin booster for me because the underlying message just hits me right in the heart, and even though Dread Wood is based in horror it still gave me such a warm, fuzzy feeling. I'm not sure if that was Killick's intention but the friendship that developed between the four main characters was written so well that it was actually my main takeaway from the novel itself. As with 'The Breakfast Club' the characters started not really involved with each other and ended up (spoiler) bonding under intense pressure and creating what will clearly become life-long friendships. With that being said, the way Killick has written a book intended for middle-grade children that actually creeped me, a 24-year-old, out is incredible. In our blog tour group chat we could all agree that this was beyond creepy and it made my skin crawl whilst reading.
Killick created an exceptional atmosphere from the first sentence, I have always loved a single setting story that doesn't extend past the world created and this just reinforced that love for me. By using an immersive writing style that is ideal for transporting children into the story Killick manages to bring a whole new world to life in this book. Whilst it is a tad scary in places the comedic relief that the characters provide was exceptionally well timed and incorporated into the narrative.
Creating an intense villain backstory was perhaps a touch too far for a middle-grade novel just for the level of understanding from the target audience. Without giving it away it is one thing to play on the fear of spiders, and another to involve the complex matter of experimental science on animals.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it was a quick read for me and that was purely based on the fact I couldn't stop without reading just one more chapter, and before I knew it I had finished the final page! If you know a middle-grade-aged child that wants a bit more of a thrill with their books then this is definitely one to pick up for them! Just make sure you're prepared to buy them a nightlight...