Tess Cooper, in her mid-twenties, is a teacher. She does not enjoy her work or the teenagers who are in her class. She lashes out at one teenager which effectively ends her teaching career. It is no coincidence that her loss of control coincides with a phone call from her father asking her to come home… her stepmother is dying.
Tess never really had a vocation to be a teacher, that was her sister’s wish. All Tess ever wanted was to be a gardener and she is happiest when digging in the earth.
Tess is conflicted. She doesn’t want to return home because of the dark memories of losing her elder sister Arabella when she was just sixteen. But return home she must to support her poor father who has endured much too much loss already.
Her return sets in motion a traumatic time for her, her family, and her friends.
She has repressed memories of the disastrous summer of 2008 and now they are creeping back. She suffers from debilitating insomnia and has nightmares in the short spells that she does manage to sleep.
Then, weird events begin to torment her further. The most disturbing of which is the discovery of her late sister’s camera, and her Converse sneakers which were never found after her death…
Almost exactly a year ago, I read Vanessa Savage’s debut novel “Woman in the Dark“. Ever since then I’ve been eager to read more of her work.
This psychological thriller, set in an atmospheric locale on the borders of a forest in the Vale of Glamorgan, in Wales, proved to be another enjoyable read.
The novel explores themes of loss, jealousy, lies, secrets, sibling relationships, betrayal, and yes… murder. The author seems to have an innate knowledge and understanding of the insecurities of teenagers. Their mercurial mood swings, their crushes, and their angst.
I recommended this novel to anyone who enjoys thrillers with unstable characters who have grave and burdensome secrets.
Vanessa Savage is a graphic designer and illustrator. She lives in South Wales with her husband and two daughters.
Her debut novel, The Woman in the Dark, was published in January 2019. The Woods is her second novel.
Follow Vanessa Savage on Twitter.