Firstly, a huge thank you to Titan Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 13/04/2021
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Gothic Horror
CW: domestic violence, mentions of sexual assault, graphic depictions of death
Mattie can’t remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that they’re not alone after all.GoodReads
There’s something in the woods that wasn’t there before, something that makes strange cries in the night, something with sharp teeth and claws.
When three strangers appear on the mountaintop looking for the creature in the woods, Mattie knows their presence will anger William. Terrible things happen when William is angry.
Just a heads up before we get into the review, this is going to be fairly brief (in my terms, at least) as there are a lot of points to this novel which I would consider spoilers and part of why I enjoyed this novel so much was because I had no idea of the complexities of the plot going into the novel.
We’re introduced to Mattie (Martha) as she stumbles across the sight of a dead fox in the woods, however, we quickly discover that it isn’t just whatever killed and left the fox that is the most dangerous creature in the woods. I loved Mattie and was rooting for her throughout the novel. I felt her fear and survival instinct were very believable, especially when you learn more about her life with William. Henry has a brilliant ability to convey so much in so few pages, which gets you to the heart of the action much quicker and you have a sense of urgency and tension right from the start.
I loved the way Henry would slowly reveal more and more information about Mattie’s life, as well as the world she has found herself in. Every time I thought I had pieced things together, something else would be thrown my way whether it be something major or just a minor comment which would cause me to question everything I had read so far – whether it was Mattie’s life with William or the creature in the woods. Henry has a brilliant command of language as she tells the story. I was addicted from the first chapter and finished the novel in one morning as I just had to get answers. There was so much to be worried about for Mattie that it was impossible to know what to give more attention to, which made the novel even more enjoyable and chaotic.
Whilst I did love this novel and how gripping it was, I’m slightly conflicted around the ending. Although the final line was incredibly powerful and most people will love where it ended, I was hoping for a little more (which is just entirely selfish on my part). Without going into specifics and spoilers, I would have liked more clarification over a couple of things towards the end and certain revelations. I have my theories, and again for some readers that will be enough to completely satisfy them, I would have just preferred something a little more concrete.
Overall, this was a wonderful way to spend a grey October morning and it has further cemented Henry as one of my favourite writers. There aren’t many other authors that can explore whether the women in fairy tales should be more afraid of the chilling creature they’re warned about, or the men that are warning them as brilliantly as Henry, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.