What Lies in the Woods

Kate Alice Marshall

Quick Synopsis

Haunted by a killer lie from their youth, a group of friends begins to unravel when one member starts asking questions.

Publisher’s Synopsis

They were eleven when they sent a killer to prison. They were heroes . . . but they were liars.

Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder. They called it the Goddess Game. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer, wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes.

And they were liars.

For decades, the friends have kept a secret worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods―no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.

What Lies In the Woods is a gorgeous fever dream of a novel about the dangers lurking in the hearts and imaginations of little girls. Kate Alice Marshall deftly charts a winding path through her creepy woods, doubling back and changing course to build a labyrinth of secrets and lies in which I was delighted to lose myself for hours. Hands down, it’s the best thriller I’ve read in a long, long time.”―Chandler Baker, bestselling author of The Husbands 

Book Review

What Lies in the Woods is the story of three friends who survived an attack by a serial killer at age eleven. Although they put the killer behind bars, the lies they told to do so haunt them, particularly Naomi who bears the scars of the attack.

As a thriller lover, I immediately chose this as one of my Book of the Month picks, despite not having heard much about it. While this will likely be a super popular book, I did not find it particularly memorable. I think if you ask me about What Lies in the Woods a month from now, I will not be able to tell you a single thing.

First, I want to mention that that the podcast element is minimal in this story, in case you are avoiding picking it up because every story and their mother seems to need to include a podcast or podcaster.

Since this book was billed as a thriller, I expected it to have a fast pace. However, I found that it was much more of a slow-burn mystery than a thriller. The pace was wildly uneven. While the middle dragged, the ending was the most fast-paced portion of the story.

What Lies in the Woods had quite a few twists – some very obvious while others were less so. But I think they were less so because of poor character development. In addition, this book does not have the most believable or plausible plot. This, in general, does not bother me, but I know it is a deal breaker for many readers.

There were also some parts of What Lies in the Woods that did not add to the story, like the scenes with Naomi’s father and boyfriend, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. In fact, these were some of the only scenes with real character development. I found that the characters were mostly cliches and not fleshed out people. This made it difficult for me to be invested in them or really feel the connections between Naomi, the main character, and the secondary characters. In the end, I think this was one of the elements that really left me feeling underwhelmed by the book.

I do not have much to say about Kate Alice Marshall’s writing. I found it easy to read, but it is otherwise not noteworthy.

Overall, I enjoyed What Lies in the Woods and found it to be a mostly entertaining read. I do recommend it. But if you are a regular thriller reader, you may not be blown away as others seemingly are by this book.


Overall Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Character Development

Rating: 2 out of 5.

What Lies in the Woods



Publication Date
January 17, 2023


Storygraph Rating
4.11 stars

Goodreads Rating
4.17 stars

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One response to “What Lies in the Woods”

  1. Thank you for sharing! This was my BOTM choice as well, though I haven’t started it yet. For some reason, I haven’t been very drawn to it. It’s very interesting to hear your thoughts on it, because I haven’t picked it up yet and I already feel it’s somewhat forgettable lol


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