Saturday, 16 July 2016

Book Review - Black Wood by SJI Holliday - #20BooksofSummer

Amazon UK
Title: Black Wood
Author: SJI Holliday
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Black & White Publishing
Publication Date: 24th February 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

He spots the two girls through the cracked screen of beech, sycamore and leg-scratching gorse: a flash of red skirt and a unison of giggles . . . The smaller girl sees him first and she lets out a strange little squeak and jumps back, grabbing onto the other girl’s T-shirt, revealing a flash of milky white shoulder.
He grins.

Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story.

Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant David Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man?

To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?

I'm reeling from the ending of this book, not that I can talk about it, because it would spoil the review and the book for you. Rest assured that what starts as a griping story with quite a few threads, suddenly picks up the pace even more, and leaves you gasping for breath by the end. 

There are a variety of twists and turns in this, one or two bits I did suspect but not to the extent or the exact way things happened. I love it when an author can outfox the reader, and SJI Holliday definitely did that here. 

Claire and Jo are still both suffering since something happened in Black Wood when they were 12. Claire has been left paralysed and Jo has been affected mentally and its not the most reliable of main characters, or people in general. 

They live in Banktoun, which is a small town in Scotland, where everyone knows each others business, and the whole town tries their hardest to help Claire and Jo, even if neither of them can fully move on with their lives. Sergeant David Gray was the policeman who was trying to help solve the case of the Black Wood all those years ago, and now there is a man in a balaclava scaring young women up at the Track. Not to mention Jo thinking she has just come face to face with one of the people that was in the wood with her when they were children. 

From the first few pages I had a sort of creepy sense wash over me as I was reading, and it was at that point I had a good feeling about the book, and that it would live up to my expectations. It was a hard book to put down for any length of time, and I was kept interested in the story the whole time, as small hints of new information were revealed. 

This is the first book that I have read by SJI Holliday and the first thing I did upon finishing Black Wood was purchase the next Banktoun book, Willow Walk, which I am already eager to sit down to read. 


  1. Thanks Rachel, really glad you enjoyed it and hope you enjoy Willow Walk too!

  2. This book sounds fab ....x


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