On first glance, Dread Wood is appealing to look at. The border of each chapter page is attractively (and a little creepily, in keeping with the title) illustrated by Tom Clohosy Cole, the paragraphs and spacing are inviting and uncluttered, and this reviewer felt there was an inclusivity to all types of readers in the book’s presentation.
The premise is a familiar one to all of us: four students from different backgrounds, with various personal challenges have gotten into trouble in school and have been given a Saturday detention. There are challenges thrown at them, they learn to pull together to overcome their situation, and somewhere along the way they become friends. Within this safe familiarity there is a lot of charm and whilst they face horrors and trauma, there is also a lot of warmth there too.
The four main characters are relatable to readers and it would be easy to find representation of oneself within them. From poverty through to parental pressure to achieve, needing to spend time with animals to calm down, the embarrassment of losing your temper and having to come to terms with needing a stoma bag – there's a lot there!
The book is a great read, fast-paced and engaging, with a good mystery/thriller aspect to it and fantastic character relationships.