This spine-tingler plunges into the stuff of nightmares.
“The body was lying in a thicket,” it begins. Fourteen-year-old Maya doesn’t remember why she ran off the path in this dark forest. Two dead bodies lie on the ground, each turning its head with eyes aglow. A shadowy figure bends over a third body. Maya stumbles and screams. Her family finds her and guides her out of this terrifying forest, but when they reach their new home/business—a village hotel called the Rowan Tree—something chilling occurs: A police officer sent to investigate is the same person as the first dead body. Not a twin, not a doppelganger—the same person. Maya just knows. Fright and grisliness escalate. Someone unknown and unseen stalks Maya; a fox has an unnatural power to make her follow it; foxes are turning up disemboweled and decapitated—and not just foxes. The narration stays faithful to Maya’s third-person-limited perspective, so readers don’t know who’s good or bad any earlier than she does. Maya’s warm parents and dedicated older brother can’t shield her or the village from danger, and they become targets too. There’s nothing particularly unique or specific about Maya and her family, which works well here, as if this could happen to anyone. When clarity and answers come, they’re sad, satisfying and less supernatural than they first seemed.
Horror with heart. (Horror. 12-15)