Something bad happened to Jo and Claire when they were children, playing in the woods in Scotland. We know it involved a couple of boys, and we know that Claire ended up in a wheelchair, and Jo, well Jo is struggling to cope with everyday life, but exactly what happened is revealed bit-by-bit as the novel progresses.
Our story takes place in the (fictional?) Scottish town of Banktoun, a wee toon were a’body kens a’body’s business (sorry – drifted into my latent Scottish accent that comes from being brought up in a place known as ‘little Scotland’ and living next door to a family of 5 bagpipe players!). I meant a small town where everybody knows everybody’s business, which just increases the overall feeling of claustrophobia that everyone senses.
Banktoun is a quiet town, but when a stalker in a balaclava starts to scare a few people on a lonely woodland path, the locals start to get unsettled. And at the same time, a stranger arrives in town, a man who Jo is convinced was present in the woods all those years ago.
Black Wood is Susi Holliday’s debut novel, which was published on 24 Feb 2015. It is well written, with great atmosphere. Jo is cleverly used as the protagonist, strong, flawed, and keeping secrets from herself. She does things that make the reader want to shout, ‘No!’, which just keeps you wanting to turn the pages. Well done, Susi – great book!