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Young Adult Fiction 135
atmospheric YA horror
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DIREWOOD is an intriguing YA fantasy/horror about sisterhood and emotion. Aja is a younger sister to the completely perfect Fiona. She has a lot of feelings about it, quite complicated at heart, but she does care for Fiona deeply. Shortly after her birthday, Fiona disappears, and when Aja is approached by a deadly creature named Padraic at night, she bargains with him for a week when she will be safe in his realm, hoping to find her sister and destroy him before returning home.

However, once she travels with him through the deadly fog, she finds a strange church and the missing teens from her town who have been enthralled by Padraic and his fellow vampire, Kate. Finding the answers she needs and her sister seem more impossible than she imagined, as her own survival is anything but certain.

What I loved: This is a really atmospheric read that pulls the reader in at the start. Aja has always seen things a bit differently, and she recognizes the strange omens that everyone else brushes off. She has strong emotions regarding her sister, the town where she lives and their microaggressions, the feelings of importance that being the favorite give her, and complicated emotions around the other teens who have been enthralled. That feeling of wanting something more and to be better/more powerful is one that will resonate with teens and feeds into the reason why so many have gone with the vampires.

While Aja originally goes to find her sister, she begins to realize the things she did not know about her, understanding her better after she left than she had when they were together. The element of sisterhood lies underneath the surface of the story, but is a strong theme regardless. The truth of the vampires is not at all pretty, and Aja sees the flaws that those enthralled do not. There is an interesting element of what she experiences vs those around her that persists during the time there, making it seem dreamlike and endlessly mysterious. It all adds into the atmosphere of suspense/horror at what is happening and what has maybe happened to Fiona.

Aja is a compelling character who is beginning to understand who she is, what she wants, and more about the world around her. During her time with Padraic, she remains skeptical, while at the same time, though she wants to destroy them and return home quickly, she finds herself staying past her original plan. It all adds up into something that keeps the readers on their toes.

Final verdict: DIREWOOD is an atmospheric and enthralling YA horror/fantasy that pulls the reader into this mysterious world of vampires and the dark.
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