Stranger Danger

Stranger Danger
Age Range
Release Date
May 02, 2023
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From horror powerhouse author Maren Stoffels comes the next pulse-quickening read! There's nowhere to hide when three teens find themselves in the middle of nowhere, with no internet and a killer hunting them down.

Don't think you can get rid of me so fast. . . .

No phones. No internet. No social media at all. That's what it's going to take to finally get serious about school and focus on exams. Nova, Vin, and Lotus even rented a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere so they won't get distracted. After that, everything can go back to normal.

But they aren't alone. Someone is watching them from the forest. Someone who knows their secrets. Someone who wants revenge. And things will never be the same again.

Editor review

1 review
If you go out in the woods today...
Overall rating
Writing Style
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Lotus and her friends Vin and Nova (who are dating) decide to spend a weekend at a cabin in a remote part of West Virginia so that they can study for their final exams for high school without distractions. They aren't supposed to bring phones, but Lotus has a secret, and brings her phone along because she is getting threatening messages on it. Nova's sister Romy drives the three teens, as well as Lotus' dog, Spot, to the cabin, and drops them off. Vin knows a little of Lotus' secret, but Nova does not, and Vin keeps trying to talk to Lotus alone. There's not a lot of studying going on; that first night, they all go skinny dipping in the cabin's pool, although Lotus feels awkward about it. The threatening messages continue, and at one point, Lotus confesses to one of her secrets to prevent Nova from finding out something about Vin. Lotus has been having an affair with a teacher at school, Reid Hunter, who in fact suggested the study trip for the three. To make matters more complicated, Reid is married to another teacher named Karen who is pregnant.

In alternate chapters, we hear from the point of view of a new person at Lotus' high school who is having problems with a student she names "Bittersweet". It's bullying, and it's relentless, but this person is planning revenge. Lotus begins to suspect that this person is the one sending messages, but since the only person who had that phone number was Reid, she is very confused.

We all know that teens in a remote cabin is going to equal problems, and soon Nova has stepped on a bear trap and gravely injured her leg, Vin is attacked and hit in the head with a branch by an unseed assailant, and since Nova doesn't want to admit to her sister that they are having trouble, Lotus decides to reach out to Reid for help. He says he'll drive up the next day to retrieve them, but will he be in time to save them from the unhappy stalker?

Good Points
This was a bit hard to follow, since the characters were vaguely portrayed on purpose, and we as readers are lead to believe things that are not what actually is happening. It's not the case of an unreliable narrator, but the information is imparted in a way that deliberately obscures some of the facts.

Stoffels definitely writes Young Adult fiction, and there are a few cases of more mature language, as well as the topic of inappropriate relationships, but all that is talked about is Reid and Lotus getting caught kissing and caressing each other in a classroom. There's some black mail, and a general air of the thrill of doing things that are taboo.

The threatening is mostly psychological; this is not a book full of blood and gore, and thankfully Spot is spared any menace! The most interesting thing about this is the way the characters are revealed in the end, and the unsuspected intertwining of the relationships. I don't want to spoil any of that by saying too much!

Readers who like darker, psychological thrillers like the work of Natasha Preston or April Henry, or books like Krovatin's Ablaze or Alender's The Companion will enjoy this taut thriller about why teens should not travel alone into the woods, even with their dogs along!
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