Hi my lovely book friends! I’d love to welcome y’ all on today’s What the Woods Keep blog tour! I’m so excited because this is the first tour I have organized. It was such an honor to have this wonderful experience, since I’ve always been looking forward to read this book. This tour will run starting today up to the 15th of September so, don’t forget to check out on everyone’s tour stops and get a chance to win a finished copy of What the Woods Keep.What the Woods Keep
by Katya de Becerra
Published by: Imprint Macmillan
Publication date: September 18, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Thriller
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Wordery
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.
Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.
As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.
What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.My rating:
If you were like me who thought to watch Supernatural, starting from its pilot episode, and reading this book was the perfect combo, please do me a favor to do it in daylight. Because the moment I picked this book, I quickly sense that eerie atmosphere within the story.
Katya de Becerra lures the readers in with the mystery behind Hayden’s character who has this weird and odd personality. Not only the way how she has different colored eyes because that’s basically had science explained as heterochromia, but how her mom’s strange disappearing a decade ago promised a dark, creepy tale in it.
Every inch there is in this story gave a slice of horror. First, the setting of a quiet, small town with people who looked as if they’ll going to eat you alive for dinner started out predictable. But anything that has to do with the forest and a house in the woods easily creeps me out.
The cryptic messages from Hayden’s mom, blood dials, rituals and images that were vividly described and a bit too outré, I could literally visualize them on my head, didn’t escape my being extra spooked. Even the letters, patient’s appendices of Hayden, Arista Kazan’s notes, findings and Dr. Holland’s journals attached in some of the chapters were pretty spooktacular too.
As Hayden unfolds the mystery and truth about her mother, all things that she could make sense using science and physics changed because her father was right all along. This made the suspense grows steadily and the twist on the Nibelungs absolutely popped up on the pages.
The story also explores Hayden’s need to have that sense of comfort, to belong, where she found on her best friend Del. Even being completely opposite, their friendship became one of the highlights in the story—how Del didn’t leave Hayden knowing every supernatural completely freaks her out or how Hayden will do everything to save her.
And let’s not forget about Shannon, Hayden’s former childhood friend. It’s not easy for her to trust and get along with other people. But with Shannon, she felt that there’s nothing have changed, that’s if he was not using her for the Institute.
When the story nears its end, the scenes went in high gear and completely turned my head in a mind-bending spiral. Hayden, knowing that she’s completely not human and going into a wholly different universe of the Nibelungs? I could have easily heard a pin drop.
Everything became too intense and before I know it, the story ended. Honestly, I want more! I need to know what happens to Abigail, to Hayden’s father and everyone in Promise. So, I asked Katya about this in an interview, which you can read later as you went on in this post.
What the Woods Keep is a plot-driven story about learning one’s true identity while discovering the unknown, punched with a deeply chilling vibe and consistent spine-tingling narrative. From the settings, characters, plot, storytelling, and even the title and cover itself, this book captured an excellent blend of science fiction, fantasy and horror.
I highly recommend this book to everyone. It’s a great addition to your fall TBR.
I received an eARC of What the Woods Keep from the publisher via NetGalley and this in no way influence my rating nor my opinion on this book.
Hi Katya! Welcome again here at Tale Out Loud for the second time and Congratulations to your debut novel, What the Woods Keep!
I’m so excited to return to Tale Out Loud once more! It was super exciting to first guest blog for you earlier this year! You hosted my first very feature dedicated to What The Woods Keep, so it only makes sense that I come back for an interview now that my debut is about hit the shelves!
I’m so thrilled to have you back! When you shared The Anthropology Behind What the Woods Keep months ago, you had mentioned how you were standing in a three-hour line, waiting for your turn to get a book signed and the idea of writing a book hit you. But when exactly was your lightbulb moment and realize that you need to write a story like What the Woods Keep?
It was a strange metamorphosis and it’s not easy to pin down the exact moment. I mean, I did write another book first. It wasn’t very good. But I had to get it out of my system, I guess. So after I wrote that first book and queried it to agents (with zero success), I knew I had to keep writing. So I tried different things. I wrote some stories, and got one published in an online magazine. That story was set in a small forest-locked town and ended with a cliffhanger, and that made me wonder: what happened next? That short story from years ago became a sort-of unofficial prequel to What The Woods Keep (at least in a thematic way), but then the story seemed to evolve naturally and I found myself writing what eventually became What The Woods Keep!
I’m sure you’re talking about Smoke and Mirrors, right? I was actually intrigued the moment you announced it in your pre-order campaign. It is set in Paris and upon reading What the Woods Keep; I realized whom it was all about. Is there any chance that you will develop it into a full manuscript?
I’m smiling deviously as I type this… Smoke and Mirrors is something I’ve written recently to give readers an in-depth insight into Hayden’s bestie Del’s life before the US. I don’t want to give away too much at this stage, but there’s a certain incident from Del’s life that involves her sister – Smoke and Mirrors is about that. On another hand, the story that inspired What The Woods Keep is called The Fetch. It got published in 2012 in Dark Edifice Literary Magazine which likely doesn’t exist anymore. (But I did reprint it on my blog, read here.)
Just to reiterate though, The Fetch is not a true prequel to What the Woods Keep but it did inspire it in a way.
Yes! I know about that particular scene! And now I’m hype to read The Fetch after this. LOL! Going back, What the Woods Keep, even from the title itself definitely has a pinch of horror vibe in it. What particular reason that drawn you to write the story which gave that sense of atmosphere?
I love spooky stories, but not full-on horror, you know. To me the menacing atmosphere and hints or horror is as far as I can comfortably go! I guess it’s just my personal comfort zone.
I agree! That’s why I don’t read or watch full-on horror like Stephen King’s. But your book is definitely not just horror but also a mixture of science fiction and fantasy. Do you consider yourself as a cross-genre writer?
I didn’t know I was a cross-genre writer until I wrote What The Woods Keep! It was when I wrote my query and was about to query agents when it hit me: I needed to define it as one genre to pitch it properly. And I really struggled to define it. I think I settled on “Urban Fantasy with elements of Science Fiction” or something, but really I could’ve chosen anything (fantasy horror, fantasy thriller, fantasy mystery, etc.). Now that I’ve written my first and my second book (Oasis is a standalone set to release in late 2019, and it’s been labelled as “horror adventure”), I can tell that yeah I love to mix different genres together! I just can’t help it!
You’ve done amazing and I love the twists you did for What the Woods Keep! And one of the obvious inspirations you have in this book is Norse mythology, specifically the Nibelung. Is it something you have always known before you decided to include it in your story’s plot?
Thank you! Actually, I didn’t have the Nibelungs in the early drafts of What The Woods Keep. Instead, I was developing the book’s supernatural element completely from scratch. However, as I revised my book I felt like it was missing something. This is where the Nibelungs made a come back from my blurry childhood memories. It was one of the major light bulb moments for this book! I combined a lot of my original world-building with the Nibelungen mythology, with hopes that those who know a little bit about the Nibelungs (even if just the name!) would be intrigued, while others would still enjoy my storytelling regardless.
I don’t know a lot about Norse myth than Thor, Odin and Loki. So, it was really refreshing to learn about the Nibelungs here in your book. Now, let’s talk about Hayden. Is she someone you write and find as a complex character?
When I was writing Hayden, my goal was for her to be realistic but also a bit of a contradiction. Her father is a scientist and she has a sort of allegiance to science. Her logical approach to the world is a bit of an armour for her, a space where she retreats when she encounters something unexplained and mysterious. I hope that readers find her worldview interesting and follow her on her journey from a wannabe sceptic to something else entirely.
Del, one of the characters, grew up moving around with her family. As an expat, did you modeled her character with your own experience?
In a way, yes! Since Hayden hasn’t traveled out of the country, her roommate being more of a cosmopolitan and well-traveled made for interesting dynamics between them. And you’re right, I definitely drew on my own experiences as an expat (and on those of my expat friends, to a degree) when writing Del, though in her case she’s moved a lot throughout her childhood because of her dad’s job. The teen-me hasn’t really traveled that much.
I’m really curious because as one of the readers, we weren’t able to know what happens to the other characters in the story like Abigail, Hayden’s father or to Promise. Can you share to us what could have been the outcome for all of them after What the Woods Keep?
As a writer I like to have a few “loose ends” in the book and leave some things up to readers’ imagination. Having said that, I understand that readers might want more closure on the characters, but also if there’s even a slightest possibility of a sequel I have to be careful not to give out too much at this stage. I’ll tell you this: all is not lost and there’s hope for everyone. Abigail and Hayden’s dad might make an appearance in What The Woods Keep themed short stories and – who knows – one day I might get to write a sequel (fingers crossed!)
I’m actually going to ask if there’s a possibility for a follow-up novella because the story has an open-ending or a cliffhanger which made it seem as if there will be a sequel. And your answer just gave me hope of continuity for the characters. I’ll watch out for that sequel!
Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to write one (but I do love my cliffhangers.)
You made the ending so much more interesting that I personally want more. Where can we read What the Woods Keep themed short stories by the way? I’m sure readers would love to know more about it.
I’m SO GLAD to hear that! As for short stories, Smoke and Mirrors is so far the only one I’ve written that’s set in the world of What The Woods Keep. At the moment, it’s offered as part of my pre-order campaign for What The Woods Keep alongside other cool stuff. (The details of my preorder incentives are here). For future stuff, readers could follow me on social media – I announce things as they happen, so Twitter is probably the best way to keep track.
As a debut author, what are the things you have learned while on the process of writing What the Woods Keep—from your characters and the story as a whole?
In terms of writing process itself, I learned a whole lot about the causation between a character’s motivation and their actions! I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s something I’m still learning as I work on improving my craft.
What I learned from my characters… that friendship is important and can save your life. Literally!
Lastly, what advice would you like to give to new writers, someone who is just starting out?
Read a lot. Read widely. Pay attention to books that appeal to you and ask yourself way: this is a great way to study the craft and develop your own style. Regardless of which way you go, traditional, indie, hybrid, keep in mind that there’s a lot of rejection and it’s rarely personal. Just keep trying. Keep writing. Keep going!
Thank you so much Katya! Lovely to have you here and Congratulations again with your debut!
Thank you so much for having me – again – on your awesome blog! I’m super excited for the book to be out there at last! Thank you and all the wonderful bloggers and early readers for helping me spread the word about What The Woods Keep!
About The Author:
Katya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology. What the Woods Keep is her first novel.
Want to know who joined the blog tour? Don’t forget to visit these amazing book bloggers to learn more about What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra.
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