Black Wood by SJI Holliday
Genre: Crime (Psychological)
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 Davie 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?
As I mentioned last month when I was reading my way through as many of my NetGalley shelved books as I could, this month I am going to read as many friends, and books by people I know. This is the first of those such books. So take this review as slightly biased and I will try and just give it as factually as I can.
This is SJI Holliday’s debut novel and it’s a great start. It’s set in a fictional village in Scotland and between today’s current day chapters are interspersed chapters of the past where you catch glimpses of something dark and sinister from the woods many years past.
The current chapters are from the point of view of Jo as well as the third person point of view of other characters.
Jo…. she’s a strange one. Because it’s quite a dark story and it gets going straight away, you see the effects of past events and how the current situation affects her immediately and it isn’t a great picture, but what do you expect if you think about what she went through? It’s a novel with an already broken protagonist and that’s not an easy task to write, but Black Wood pulls it off. And to balance Jo out there was Sergeant Gray whose calm manner and easy going outlook I really enjoyed.
We watch as the already broken Jo reacts to the new arrival in the village pretty badly and are left guessing about the motives of everyone we meet as the novel progresses.
A dark novel of how events affect lives, with a new threat thrown in, and a great twist of the knife at the end.
With thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of the book.
What a great project – I should do that – read my Netgalley books, read my books by friends… Well done! I’ve got this one on my tablet as well.
Alex J. Cavanaugh (@AlexJCavanaugh) says
A traumatic event in childhood can really mess with someone as an adult.
I’m happy to know that I read another review or mention of this book a while back (can’t remember where) and ordered Black Wood. It came just last week and so I have it here, ready to read soon. So nice. Yay! So looking forward to it.
Margot Kinberg says
It certainly sounds like an interesting treatment of the later effects of childhood trauma, Rebecca. And it’s nice to learn about a police protagonist who’s not a stereotypical drunken, demon-haunted, damaged person.
Jacqui Murray says
It’s easy to see how that would happen. How do you recover from such an egregious lack of justice? I can see this would be dark. Sounds like a great way to exorcise demons.
SJI Holliday says
Thanks for the lovely review, Rebecca 🙂