In an unending, horrific forest, there is a village full of people terrified of being hunted by Grabbers. Each Grabber uniquely corresponds to its victim, building its body in the image of its victim's greatest fear before killing them. Twelve-year-old Kestrel is a huntress who is despised by the village, but the people's fear of her witch weaver mother keeps the human monsters at bay. Kestrel searches for her grandmother's Grabber so she can redeem herself in her mother's eyes and finally find a way out of the woods forever. Salter's fictionalized setting is deliciously detailed with its variety of monsters and claustrophobic forest. Kestrel is presented as a feral yet relatable character for whom readers will feel both admiration and fear as she moves forward in her quest. Kestrel is not alone in her journey. Pippit, a talking weasel, and Finn, a boy who creates treetop passages, bring enough lightheartedness so that the suspense and supernatural moments aren't overwhelming. Kestrel's mother and her grandmother are as terrifying as the monsters Kestrel fights, but are solidly three dimensional. The originality of the journey, the monsters, the living forest, the strong atmosphere of supernatural horror, and the characters lead this book to the top of the pack of fantasy horror for tween readers. Give this to readers of Neil Gaiman and Joseph Delaney's The Last Apprentice series.
Where the Woods End
Author(s): Charlotte Salter
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Young Readers Group))
Copyright Year: 2018
Reviewer: Kristin Fletcher-Spear
Rating: Highly Recommended
Grade (as stated by Reviewer/SLC): 6-8
Review Date: November 1, 2018
Kestrel, a young huntress, lives in a seemingly endless forest crawling with dangerous beasts. But the most dangerous beasts of all are the Grabbers--beings that are born when you are and stalk you throughout your life, waiting for the perfect moment to snatch and eat you. No one has ever defeated their Grabber once attacked, and those that die from accidents or other creatures are considered "lucky." Kestrel has been tasked by her mother, a powerful and controlling spell-caster, to hunt down the Grabbers in an effort to protect their village in the forest. Accompanied by Pippit, a hilariously bloodthirsty weasel, she hones her skills as she searches for a way out of the forest--and away from the judgmental villagers who despise her. But her own Grabber is creeping ever closer, and nothing in this forest is what it seems...including her mother's true motivations.
Media Type: Book, eBook