Book Reviews · Thrillers · Young Adult

What Waits in the Woods

I have never been described as a person who enjoys the so-called “great outdoors.” I do appreciate the beauty of nature, but when you’re allergic to every type of grass and tree on the planet, the idea of being out in it doesn’t hold a tremendous amount of appeal. While I do enjoy the occasional walk or hike, I am very much what my family would call “an indoor cat.”

When I was a child, nothing caused me more agony than hearing the words, “We’re going on a camping trip.” There were a few reasons for this. First, bugs. Second, scary outdoor noises. Third, my family’s idea of a “normal” camping trip was what a lot of campers today would call “roughing it.” As an adult, I’ve been on camping trips with friends at some really nice campgrounds where there were actual bathrooms (complete with showers) available for your use. That was not my experience growing up.

My family would go up into the Rocky Mountains to camp; setting up our tent in the kinds of places you had to have four-wheel-drive to get to. I’ll never forget my dad telling us on our very first camping trip that if a mountain lion or bear got into the camp, we had, and I quote, “six shots to get to the car.” Needless to say, I spent most of our trips hiding in the tent with a book and wishing I was at home.

We never did have any trouble with mountain lions or bears, though some friends and I were stalked by some raccoons who were a little too interested in our campsite. The worst things we ever dealt with were mosquito bites and poison ivy, but I have pretty much sworn off camping at this point in my life.

But even if I was a fan of camping, reading Kieran Scott’s What Waits in the Woods would certainly make me think twice about going on a camping trip.

What Waits in the Woods is a young adult (YA) novel about a girl named Callie Velasquez. Like me, Callie is not a fan of the idea of spending her time in the woods. But as anyone who has ever gone to school knows, peer pressure can cause a person to step way outside their comfort zone in order to fit in. That’s exactly what happens to Callie, who is hoping that agreeing to go camping will help cement her relationships with her new friends. Of course, that’s before the group gets lost and starts to hear creepy laughter coming from the woods. And then there’s the dead body that Callie finds…

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, intense read, What Waits in the Woods is a good option. I had a very hard time putting this book down, and read it cover-to-cover in the space of about two continuous hours. While the book does contain a decent amount of teenage relationship drama (not to mention some extremely questionable decision making on the part of the characters), it also includes a lot of suspense and genuinely creepy moments. What Waits in the Woods is one of those books that switches perspectives between chapters, bouncing between the main narrative and a “Recovery Journal” that is being written after the events of the camping trip. The journal ramps up the suspense very quickly, and I spent most of the book trying to figure out who was writing it.

If you decide to check out What Waits in the Woods, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. I would suggest that you not try to read it on your next camping trip though…

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