I read my ARC that received from Bookishfirst in two days. I couldn’t put it down. I snuck it in at work, in the car before driving from work to daycare, into dinner, and late into the night. It was so haunting and alluring. Once I started I couldn’t put it down. The world building that Kate Alice Marshall creates is spellbinding. It gives me "The Hazel Wood" vibes (By Melissa Albert) and I’m here for it.
Urban legend has it that a road can be found in the woods and it calls to some people. If you find the road, you have to follow the rules it sets or else you die, or worse, you become a permanent and grotesque figure on the road warning or helping people who keep stumbling upon the road out of curiosity and stupidity. The rod takes you into another world, one where nothing is as it seems and rules must be followed and memories can not be trusted. Fortunately, several of the main group people that the story focuses on, were able to record video while on the road, which helps to clear things up afterwards when the memory tries to block or change.
This book was spooky but not horrory. Her descriptions didn’t totally convince you what the horrors looked like and so, as a reader, you couldn’t really imagine them. The first time I was like "oh shit-- This is spooky--" was when the main character breaks one of the rules and goes to make it right but she is in the dark. She reaches for her friend’s hand and grabs it only to hear his voice behind her looking for her in the dark. Who the F's hand did she grab?! Eek.
I got super confused with all the characters and trying to keep up with who was who and who was "with" who. But I realize that’s probably the point so that you feel like the characters do— mixed up and not realizing if you left someone behind or if they were even there to begin with. That being said, it would be hard to read this book and pick back up after several days and repeat that pattern; you would have to do a lot of rereading to figure out where you were in the story.
The ending left me unsatisfied. It was rather choppy and I felt like Marshall threw the ending together so it could just be finished. Am I missing something that other people are catching? I kept thinking that everything was going to be answered and some huge reveal was coming, but then nothing-- and then the end-- in a bad way too, like not looking forward to a sequel kind of way.