Hi guys! What the Woods Keep Blog Tour had officially started yesterday, September 10th. This tour is hosted by Cherry Karlita from Tale Out Loud. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this tour, Karlita! ❤ Below is the schedule of the blog tour:
Check out these goodies you will get when you preorder! 😉
Today I have a guest post from the author of What the Woods Keep about her ideal fantasy world, some of her struggles with writing WTWK, and some of her inspirations for the book. Please take your time to read it. As a lover of fantasy myself, I think it is very insightful and heart-warming. Here it is:
Writing the Supernatural into the Ordinary by Katya de Becerra
My favorite kind of fantasy has always been the one where our ordinary world merges with the fantastical one, where the supernatural comes out of the shadows and interacts with the mundane, the consequences of such an interaction strange and unsettling. From my earliest memories of childhood games to my very first attempts at writing down my fantastical stories, I’ve always set my imagined tales in the real world, but with a twist. In those stories, there were magical beings in the forest, but deforestation pushed them out and they had to leave home, blending in with humans in the cities. And almost always there was a portal to another world but only those pure of heart could find it. Needless to say, the Narnia Chronicles were some of my favorite books growing up.
When I set out to finally write my own fantasy world into a book, I had to ask myself two questions: what are the rules of this world and how much is the protagonist aware of the magic in it? As far as the first question was concerned, I wanted to ensure my science-minded protagonist felt just safe enough and in her element in this world for her to be shocked when I tripped her, sending her headfirst off the deep end. To make that work, the world of What The Woods Keep had to resemble our own, at least at first glance, so the difficult part for me was to hide everything supernatural away into the shadows, leaving just enough of a foreboding to hint at bad things to come. I drew on mythology and various portal magic stories, like Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (to a certain degree) and, of course, the aforementioned Narnia Chronicles.
As for the question of how much my protagonist knew… Because of her peculiar backstory and the way her character developed over time, Hayden was mostly unaware of this fantastical world hiding in plain sight but she definitely suspected something was off. Revealing this world to her one bit at a time and writing her reactions and rationalization of it all was among my favorite things of creating What The Woods Keep. This book is pretty much my love letter to all the “magic haunts the ordinary world” stories out there and I hope it will appeal to readers who like to be enchanted – and spooked – by magic, and to everyone else too.
I hope I can write my own fantasy story one day too (but alas, I know I’m not a creative writer). Now for the review!
Title: What the Woods Keep
Author: Katya de Becerra
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy (Paranormal), Mystery, Science Fiction
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Imprint McMillan
What the Woods Keep is a story I am not used to reading. I read a lot of fantasy but not a lot of urban fantasy, especially ones that are heavy on German mythology. This was unexpected and surprising for me by but my interest was still piqued!
The story focuses on Hayden Holland who had gone through several traumatic events throughout her childhood. When she was just eight years old, her mother disappeared- that is not a spoiler; it’s technically the driving point of the story. She is now living a normal life in New York after her father made them move them following mother Ella’s disappearance. She lives in an apartment with her now best friend, Del. On her eighteenth birthday, she receives a call from her family’s lawyer which led her to return to her hometown Promise. Then the story starts from there.
I will be tackling three weak points and three strong points of this story so you can decide whether this book is something you should pick up. The first weak point is that the story is heavy with scientific explanations. (I consider it a weak point since going into the story, I had expected it to be very heavy on paranormal fantasy.
I should have checked the synopsis a hundred times so it would sink into me that it also falls under the scifi genre.) You may not find this a bad thing and it certainly is not irrelevant since Hayden is studying science and she had grown up surrounded with science since her father is also a scientist. However, when I was reading the book, I would suddenly get overwhelmed with all the scientific information that would be thrown in the story.
The second weak point for me is the start of each chapter, and this is also related to the first weak point I mentioned. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger that put me on the edge of my seat but the momentum would die when the next chapter starts with Hayden explaining some scientific phenomenon to describe her current situation.
The last weak point I found is that I felt like the supernatural aspect of the story was lacking. I wanted to see more of the Nibelungs or Nibelungen and the other fantastical world but I only got some glimpses of it throughout the story, except for the last 20%, I would say. Again, that may not be a bad thing since it creates an anticipation for the next book and boy, did it create one for me! I can’t wait to read the next one to know more!
Now the strong points. The first strong point of the story is the main protagonist- Hayden. She is a likeable character. She is very human- very real. As I’ve mentioned, she had gone through several traumatic life events during her childhood and she had to go through therapy basically her whole life. The only way she could cope was to immerse herself with all the natural ways she could explain all the otherworldly things that had happened in her life. She had definitely grown so much as a character throughout the story and I really liked that.
The second strong point is the romance. I really like romance in the books I read. Two types of romance I live for are childhood-turned-lovers and some angst. I really liked that aspect of the story. Hayden was suddenly swept off of Promise by her father after her mother’s disappearance and was not able to say goodbye to her only friend, Shannon. When they were reunited, you could expect Shannon to be angry at Hayden because of it. Well, I’d say more bitter than angry. I really want to see more of their relationship in the next installment!
The last strong point is the mystery revolving around the story. The story is written in first point of view so as a reader, I got to unveil the mystery behind mother’s disappearance and her “legacy” she left with Hayden along with her.
Despite the faults I found in the book, I still enjoyed reading it! If you are a fan of urban fantasy and stories with supernatural worlds and beings like Narnia, for example, you would definitely enjoy this too!
Don’t go yet! Make sure to enter the giveaway to win a printed copy of What the Woods Keep! Just click this link!
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. Her stories tend to be set in strange locales where it rains a lot and odd things go bump in the night. Katya is a short version of her real name, which is very long and gets mispronounced a lot. On her blog, she muses about pop culture, urban fantasy, science fiction, and monsters. What The Woods Keep is her first novel. Katya’s second book, Oasis, is forthcoming in 2019.