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Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick - Book Tour and Review

Friday, April 1, 2022

Hello and welcome to my blog for my stop on the blog tour for Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick. It is a pleasure to welcome you! I don't read a lot of middle grade but I was so intrigued by the premise of this book that I just had to sign up for the tour. I know I've got another of Jennifer's books somewhere, so I'll have to dig it out soon as I enjoyed this one so much. 

The book is suitable for ten year olds and older, but be aware there are parts that are genuinely scary and horrific - I am very much a grown up and still found some parts shocking! I want to warn as well for some parts of animal cruelty, which I know some people and kids especially can find difficult to read. 

So, the book is narrated by Angelo. He has got into trouble at school, and must now serve a Saturday detention. Joining him are Naira, Hallie, and Gustav. The four of them had some kind of riot in the dining room, and have to serve their punishment with Mr Canton. Mr Canton insists on taking their phones from them, but before he can get them to start doing what they're doing, he disappears. 

The school has some animals on site, including some pigs and their piglets, and chickens, as well as lots of insects, spiders, reptiles and all kinds of others inside the school. Angelo, who is a bit of a loner, particularly likes the pigs and spends a lot of time with them. 

The kids see some strange behaviour from the caretaker, Mr Latchitt, and his wife, and go to their house to see what's happening. They shockingly see Mrs Latchitt throw a live chicken down the well, and realise that she is feeding something down there. They start back towards the school and find Mr Canton - only then a hole opens up on the field below him and he disappears. Angelo tries his best to save him, but can't. The hole then reseals itself, taking Mr Canton with it. But Angelo is pretty sure that there was something else in the hole with Mr Canton, something with hairy legs, something which is kind of familiar...?

The kids realise something funny is going on. They try to unravel it, getting themselves into quite some danger as they do. They each have a secret too. Angelo doesn't have many friends; his parents work two jobs each to keep the family afloat and Angelo doesn't always have enough food to feed himself and his brother properly. I loved this bit - I really appreciate it when working class families are shown in books because that's reality for a lot of kids. The four aren't particularly friends at the start of the book but they definitely are by the end. I loved how tough the girls were too, how they got stuck in to every fight and showed no fear. I also really liked Gus' secret, but I won't spoil it. 

I think this book left itself open to a sequel, which I would love to see! I am giving this five out of five as I thoroughly enjoyed it! 

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