Publisher's Note:  

Kestrel, a young huntress, lives in a seemingly endless forest crawling with dangerous beasts. But the most dangerous beasts of all are the Grabbers--beings that are born when you are and stalk you throughout your life, waiting for the perfect moment to snatch and eat you. No one has ever defeated their Grabber once attacked, and those that die from accidents or other creatures are considered "lucky." Kestrel has been tasked by her mother, a powerful and controlling spell-caster, to hunt down the Grabbers in an effort to protect their village in the forest. Accompanied by Pippit, a hilariously bloodthirsty weasel, she hones her skills as she searches for a way out of the forest--and away from the judgmental villagers who despise her. But her own Grabber is creeping ever closer, and nothing in this forest is what it seems...including her mother's true motivations.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Dial Books for Young Readers

Where the Woods End

by Charlotte Salter

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Overall Review:  

This was an odd little book by Charlotte Salter. Where the Woods End contains plenty of twists, action, and horror, and features a plucky female lead in Kestrel, a young girl raised in a village where the surrounding woods are filled with more than just wolves, and a person's worst nightmare is to be targeted by a grabber.

Grabbers are monstrous beasts that steal articles from their targeted victims, building a body that reflects that person's worst fear. Once they've built their body, their victim's days are numbered, for a grabber will hunt them until they are caught. Kestrel has spent her entire childhood learning how to hunt these monsters, relentlessly trained by her grandmother to reach her full potential. Now, with her grandmother dead by a grabber, Kestrel lives alone with her mother, a horrible witch who is feared by the villages, and who takes out her spite on Kestrel. Tormented and bullied by the village children, Kestrel's only refuge is the forest, and her only friends are feral boy Finn, and a talking weasel named Pippit.

Kestrel wants to leave her village and make her way through the forest to the other side, away from her horrible mother. But first, she has to find and destroy the grabber that killed her grandmother before she will be able to escape the forest. But there are things about the grabbers she doesn't know, things her mother hasn't told her. 

And Kestrel's world might not contain the whole truth. 

There was a lot I liked about this novel:  the main character was well written, and the worldbuilding was pretty unique. Also, the grabbers were a pretty cool monster the author created. They were really creepy. That being said, I was also a little disturbed at the horror elements. I'm not hugely into the grisly or gross, and parts of this book were both. People die pretty off-handedly, and a young girl hunts monsters and kills them, and the verbiage can be a bit perturbing. There was a particular area at the end where there's a description of dead animals that gave me a shudder all the way up my spine. But, I'm the kind of person who gets unsettled if there's a description about live creatures getting bitten in half, or having their heads ripped off. Since this book did contain some descriptions similar to that, I did think it should be a bit more upper middle grade than straight-across-the-board middle grade. It's good for readers who enjoy horror fantasy.

Review of an Advance Reader's Copy

Content Analysis:  


Violence/Gore:  Many instances of violence and gore, including but not limited to: Frequent descriptions of an eerie forest and the monsters that live in it; a character often is alone in a forest, hunting monsters;  a girl confronts a monster and uses a slingshot to punch a hole through its head; mention of monsters known as grabbers; a girl is bullied by village children and gets rocks thrown at her; a character has scars from harsh training lessons; mention of a grandparent's death; a girl is frequently coerced into helping her cruel mother; a girl goes after a grabber and its victim; in an extended scene, a girl catches up with a grabber and battles it, inflicting damage on the monster while suffering her own injuries, and eventually kills it by shooting a rock down a monster's throat and then stabbing it through the heart; a girl sees something move in a dead monster's stomach; a weasel plays with a dismembered finger; a girl often has nightmares about her grandmother; a girl is confronted by a dead saltwater witch; report of someone willing to commit suicide rather than face their grabber; a girl is sometimes attacked, nipped and/or bitten by her mother's mean dog; a girl is often threatened by villagers; a woman threatens to kill her daughter's friend; a mother uses a spell to injure her daughter and uses the same kind of magic to almost kill a boy; a girl is attacked by a saltwater witch, falls into a salt bog where she sees the preserved remains of dozens of animals, fights a witch to stop him from stealing her eyes and puts her hand through his body into his chest; a girls sees dead animals impaled on stakes; a girl has frequent flashbacks of when she was little and was put through cruel training sessions to become a hunter; a girl ends up in an orchard with fruits consisting of human-like organs; a girl finds a certain berry in a tree surrounded by the bodies of dead animals; a girl is attacked by, and defeats, a bird-like monster; a girl sees a dead fish, torn open and its bones scattered; a girl tries to poison her mother; a girl feeds a poison berry to an attacking dog; a girl realizes a relative has been long dead; a boy is struck by a monster.

Sex/Nudity:  A boy hugs a girl; a girl confesses she cares for someone; a girl feels a surge of love for a boy.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Physical and emotional child abuse, death of a family member, child endangerment, considered suicide, separation of parents, bullying.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

A grandmother smokes a pipe; a character hordes a bottle of poison for potential suicide; a girl plots to poison a family member.

Reviewed By Katrina
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