The lives of teenage twins Maisy and Duncan change forever the night their sick mother is taken to an asylum. Sent to live in the New Forest with their cold-hearted grandmother, Mrs Mitcham, they feel unloved and abandoned.
And when one day Duncan doesn't come home from exploring in the forest, no one - least of all his grandmother - appears to care about his disappearance. The police, who've found the bodies of other missing boys, offer little hope of finding Duncan alive.
Yet Maisy refuses to give up. Though she doesn't know the woods well, she knows someone who does. The strange old woman who lives at their heart.
Dare Maisy enlist the help of the woman in the wood?
Maisy and Duncan were awoken in the night to find their father taking their mother away in the middle of the night to an asylum. She'd been ill since before their birth and was becoming a danger to herself after trying to poison herself, so he takes the decision to send her away. The teenage twins are terribly upset at the seemingly cruel way it's done, and soon after are sent away to live with their cold hearted grandmother in the New Forest.
They don't miss their father terribly as he was as cold as his mother, and gradually they begin to build a life they enjoy with kind housekeeper, Janice, and their tutor, Mr Dove who was injured in the war. They enjoyed the freedom of the forest, and exploring the mysteries of the village. One such being reclusive woman, Grace Deville who lives in a shack deep within the forest, and people say is a killer, among other such rumours.
Soon after Duncan tries to befriend Grace, he goes missing. Are the rumours about her true? Maisy takes it upon herself to find out after it seems the disappearance of Duncan and other boys from around the area aren't being taken that seriously by the police, and she finds herself in the gravest of danger.
I absolutely adored this book and did not want to put it down. I love Lesley Pearse but this is by far my favourite yet.
I loved all the wonderful characters, especially Maisy and Grace Deville, and loved the way the characters developed throughout the story and we found out why certain ones behaved the way they did. Old Mrs Mitcham for one.
The story was gripping and in parts harrowing, but handled as sensitively as possible but even that was a hard read. Incredibly rewarding though and with the most perfect of endings.
As much as I had a clue who was behind the murders and kidnappings, it was very well written and played out beautifully with the perfect pacing to keep you turning the pages.
Highly recommended read!