Name– Big Woods
Author– May Cobb
Genre– Thriller, Mystery-Thriller, Crime
Katie’s case– 4.5/5
It’s 1989 in the sleepy town of Longview, Texas, when ten-year-old Lucy disappears. Her parents, the police, and the community all brace for the worst, assuming her body will soon be found in Big Woods. Just like the other unsolved kidnappings.
But then Lucy’s fourteen-year-old sister, Leah, starts having dreams about Lucy—dreams that reveal startling clues as to what happened. Leah begins her own investigation, and soon she meets a reclusive widow who may hold the key to finding Lucy . . . if only she can find the courage to come forward.
Delving into the paranoia surrounding satanic cults in the 1980s, Big Woods is an emotionally wrought, propulsive thriller about the enormity of grief, the magical bond between sisters, and a small town’s dark secrets.
May Cobb’s debut novel is a fantastic look on not only growing up in the 80’s, but also the inseparable bonds of sisterhood. Big Woods stands out for me amongst recent mystery-thriller novels, and had everything I love in a book: small town secrets, cult-y overtones, some great blast-from-the-past references, and a little sisterly magic.
Told by two incredibly fresh voices, a elderly woman and a young teenager, Cobb skillfully connects the reader to both of the differing personalities. I loved getting into the minds of two characters who were not of my relatable age or setting, but still felt like I could get to know them. As readers, we get to watch Leah grow through some of the classic weird teenage friendships, but also some dark adversaries. I felt Leah’s emotions and pain throughout the novel, thanks to vivid details and very relatable human emotion. And we get to know Sylvia’s past through twists and turns that made my jaw drop at times. I loved getting into the mind of an older woman, I felt this was a very new and fresh perspective for me and admired her story. Cobb also gives life to the setting itself, a small town completely consumed in Satanic Panic and the mysteries of the missing children. Although I would say some of the writing- particularly the metaphors and similes- didn’t completely land for me, I liked how I could practically hear the metal music and smell the pine trees from Cobb’s vivid descriptions throughout the book.
Without revealing too much, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has fascinations with small town mysteries paired with a little bit of cult secrets and finally some sisterhood magic. It encompasses so much depth to the characters, the town, and the writing. This novel stands out from a lot of the other thrillers on my bookshelf and doesn’t follow any sort of overdone formula, so it kept me guessing until the very last chapter and I couldn’t put it down. Great debut May!
Thank you Midnight Ink and NetGalley!
AUTHOR MAY COBB: