This horror story delivers real scares and the perfect amount of gory detail for its young audience.
Angelo is not impressed to be called to detention on a Saturday, especially when he sees who the other students are that he will be spending the day with. He likes to keep himself to himself. He has secrets about his family that make life hard and he would rather keep them hidden.
Joining him in detention are Gus, Hallie and Naira, who each have their own private reasons for being there. Like The Breakfast Club, the children are totally individual and have no intention of getting along…until their lives depend upon it.
The children’s unbelievably positive headteacher is set on making their detention a learning experience but, when he unexpectedly (and terrifyingly) disappears, Angelo and his reluctant classmates are thrust together to try and uncover the deadly secrets of whatever it is that lurks below the school.
Killick’s horror story is joyously generic. Monsters remain hidden until absolutely necessary and, when they are finally revealed, are just the right mix of original and familiar. Moreover, the intensely creepy husband and wife caretaker team are a perfect introduction to the famous psychopaths of classic horror stories.
Dread Wood is more than just a fright fest, though. Its young characters are very good company. Despite each one carrying his/her own emotional baggage, they are able to see the good in one another. As they grow familiar with one another, the insults and quips they exchange are hilarious, and Killick manages to make the conversation feel natural and easy, and never cringeworthy, like so many grown-up authors do when writing with a teenage voice.
With a fast pace, frequent shocks and moments of genuine terror, Dread Wood is a real treat for readers looking to step into a new genre.