Lucy Christopher

Writer, Teacher, Speaker

The Killing Woods

  • Published

    2013, Chicken House

  • Audience

    Young Adult

  • Awards

    Leeds Book Award (shortlist)
    Carnegie Medal Nomination

“Something was draped across Dad’s outstretched arms. A deer? A fawn that was injured? It was sprawled and long-legged, something that had been caught in a poacher’s trap maybe. A mistake. So this is where Dad had been all this time: in the woods and cutting this creature free.”

Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child?  Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

In essence, the catalyst for this book is the death of a teenage girl, who is found in the woods one hot summer night. The novel is told from two perspectives. A girl and a boy, Emily and Damon – both of who knew the dead girl, Ashlee, in different ways. As they explore the woods and try to discover the clues of what actually happened that night, they discover a whole lot more about the darkness that may exist within them also. Their exploration of the woods becomes an exploration of themselves and each other.

This book was by far the hardest book that I have written. It took me over three years!  I rewrote it many times and I changed the ending even more times than that. I think it was hard because of its dark theme. I also didn’t make it easy for myself by writing a mystery without first knowing how the book would end (and how the mystery would be solved). I learnt a lot about writing through this book though, and it’s the first time that I’ve tried writing in the first person perspective of a teenage boy.


“This taut, psychologically realistic murder mystery knits trauma, danger, tragedy and hope into one cohesive tale … A gripping, heartbreaking, emotionally substantial look at war wounds and the allure of danger.”


“… an utterly absorbing psychological thriller, and one of the best books I’ve read this season.”


“Original and thrilling, this is another cracker from an author to watch.”


“The Killing Woods is a dark, disturbing thriller that pulls no punches … It cements Lucy Christopher’s reputation as one of the brightest rising stars of UK Young Adult fiction.”

© 2021