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The Lying Woods


The Lying Woods

Ashley Elston is a young adult mystery and thriller writer whose debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, was a 2013 International Thriller Writers Award winner. She has also written a sequel to her debut, THE RULES FOR BREAKING, and a standalone mystery, THIS IS OUR STORY. Her newest novel, THE LYING WOODS, is a November 2018 release from Disney-Hyperion. Elston lives in North Louisiana with her family.

THE LYING WOODS is a mystery novel following Owen Foster, a wealthy student of a New Orleans boarding school. His father’s business practically employs the entirety of his small hometown of Lake Cane. When Owen’s mother shows up at his school and breaks the news that his father has run away after it was discovered that his fortune was fueled by stealing money from those who worked for him, Owen is yanked out of his boarding school and returns to Lake Cane. Owen and his mother are left to deal with the fallout of his father skipping town in a town that can’t stand the sight of them. When an old recluse named Gus offers Owen a job on his farm ways out from town, he takes the job as an escape whenever Lake Cane becomes too much for him.

"I highly recommend THE LYING WOODS to readers of mystery and those who are typically reluctant to pick up the genre....Elston created a masterpiece full of little puzzle pieces that do not come together...until the very end."

Owen’s story is not the only story in THE LYING WOODS. It is told in alternating chapters of Owen’s present-day high school experience in Lake Cane and two other teens’ experience there before Owen was born. THE LYING WOODS is a not a frightening thriller like I had expected, but a slow, calculated mystery. From the start, readers are left to wonder whether Owen’s father is truly guilty of all that he is accused. The dynamics of the small town are fascinating in of themselves, and the attitudes of everyone toward Owen and his mom are shocking. I enjoyed Owen and his mom’s relationship and how it grew throughout the story. I have to commend the entirety of the story for focusing on family, whether in the present or the past.

Even with a mysterious setting and a certain chilling atmosphere to it, THE LYING WOODS showcases many realistic character relationships. The exceptional relationships in this book go beyond Owen and his mom. Owen’s expanding relationship with his childhood best friend, Pippa, was very entertaining to follow throughout the story. Even David and Detective Hill, who began as characters I disliked, grew on me. Owen’s relationship with Gus was adorable and one of my favorite parts of this story. I enjoyed Noah and Maggie together from the past chapters probably more than even Owen and Pippa. Elston did an incredible job making me adore many characters in this book in just about 300 pages.

Mystery is not my genre of choice, and I tend to avoid it. Elston also included alternate timelines which I usually dislike, but it worked out incredibly well in this book. Every once in a while a mystery blows me away, and THE LYING WOODS did just that with its ending. While I found the first two-thirds of the book to be slow yet entertaining, it was the last third that shocked me and made me rethink everything. It is a short enough book that you are never bored, and there is so much that I did not see coming. I highly recommend THE LYING WOODS to readers of mystery and those who are typically reluctant to pick up the genre like I am. I was so invested in this town by the time this book ended. Elston created a masterpiece full of little puzzle pieces that do not come together in your mind until the very end.

Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member on November 14, 2018

The Lying Woods
by Ashley Elston

  • Publication Date: November 13, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 136801478X
  • ISBN-13: 9781368014786