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The Little Woods

The Little Woods is a YA contemporary mystery by McCormick Templeman.

Ten years ago, Cally Woods sister and her sister’s friend went missing from a camp at a boarding school named St. Bede’s. Never found, the two girls were presumed dead.

Since then, Cally’s home life has gone off the rails. So she jumps at the opportunity for a full ride at St. Bede’s, even if it is the middle of her junior year. It’s a great opportunity, education-wise, if a bit morbid. But she requests that no one be told of her dark history with the place.

Suddenly Cally is thrust into a world of parties, secret romances, and that unsettling feeling of being part of crowd inundated with privilege and prestige since birth without speaking the same language. But it doesn’t take long for Cally to feel like maybe she’s making friends – maybe.

Quickly she finds out, though, that just a few months ago a gifted student named Iris vanished – and it floods Cally’s mind with memories of her sister. She desperately wants to solve the disappearance, and deep down knows she wants to link it with her sister’s case.

Not before long, Cally finds that beneath the façade of studious, playful perfection St. Bede’s is full of secrets…

As I said when I read/reviewed Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield (review here), I have always been a fan of a well-plotted, well-delivered YA mysteries. Historical mysteries and Agatha Christie’s have always been fun for me, too.

Again here, though, The Little Woods just never became a fully developed novel – in my opinion. I really wanted to care about what was going on, but I wasn’t amused enough, creeped out enough, or invested enough.

Cally, as our heroine, didn’t connect with me either. Her way of talking (more often than I’d prefer she used “like” in what was, I think, supposed to be a humorous manner) and general personality did nothing for me, except perhaps grate a bit. And since The Little Woods is first person voice narrated, it gave the novel a bland vibe.

Descriptions were heavy for secondary characters, possibly distractingly so, but none of them were really likable. As the mystery finally began to accelerate, after a lot of (sorry to say) uninteresting jibber jabber from my view, there is some incomprehensible reasoning for not going to the authorities. Sadly, it was just one of those times that you realize you do not gel with a book. Doesn’t mean YOU won’t though!!!

Because The Little Woods clearly was not for me, I ended up heavily skimming most of the end portion of it. I did want to see how it all turned out.

Many readers will appreciate The Little Woods, I’m sure. What didn’t come across as titillating to me, most definitely could for you! I can see what the author was going for – a gritty boarding school murder mystery.

Unfortunately, it just did not capture my attention – hopefully it will yours!


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