Reviews /

Dread Wood

Authored by Jennifer Killick
Published by HarperCollins Publishers

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If you are often asked for a horror book, something really scary, from the class or school library, but struggle to recommend anything primary age appropriate other than Goosebumps, then the first of the Dread Wood series will be ideal. Jennifer Killick takes familiar tropes of the horror genre and weaves them into a frighteningly good adventure, ensnaring readers in a web of danger and excitement. As you might guess, this is not a story for arachnophobes!

Attending Saturday detention at Dread Wood High should be straightforward for the four classmates, a boring punishment for their misbehaviour. However Angelo, Hallie, Gustav and Naira find themselves in a battle to survive, when they realise they are under attack from giant spiders. Their teacher disappears, dragged underground, and the sinister caretaker and his wife are stalking them, all the time whistling ‘Incy Wincy Spider’. As the day unfolds, the reason that they have been targeted gradually becomes horrifyingly clear. They discover a link between the actions which led to them being in detention, with blackmail and manipulation for revenge at the heart of it. Each has their problems which have led to isolation, loneliness and a sense of being at odds with the world. However, working together and utilising their strengths is the only way to overcome this monstrous enemy.

Written with panache, this is a pacy mix of humour and horror, with likeable characters. The developing empathy between them gives added depth to the story and the background issues are handled sensitively. Horror story fans from Year 5 up will love this.