Black Wood by SJI Holliday Book Review

Black Wood: A deliciously dark thriller with a shocking secret at its heart (Banktoun Trilogy) by [Holliday, SJI]


He spots the two girls through the cracked screen of beech, sycamore and leg-scratching gorse: a flash of red skirt and a unison of giggles . . . The smaller girl sees him first and she lets out a strange little squeak and jumps back, grabbing onto the other girl’s T-shirt, revealing a flash of milky white shoulder. He grins.

Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story.

Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant David Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man?

To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?


Black Wood is the debut novel by SJI Holliday. Set in a small, fictional town in Scotland, Black Wood is perfect for fans of the television show Broadchurch. As the people of the town come under the spotlight in a serious police investigation, the novel explores the dark side of human nature and what we are all capable of doing if faced with an impossible choice.

Something frightening and abhorrent happened in Banktoun many years ago. Jo and Claire’s lives have been defined by events which happened in the past. Claire has fought hard to move on but Jo has struggled and when a man turns up in the town out of the blue, it brings all the memories flooding back. Is this man responsible for what happened to Jo and Claire all those years ago, and when similar attacks begin to happen in the present, is there anything that Jo can do to stop them?

I’d heard so many great things about SJI Holliday’s books so I was excited when I finally got round to reading the first book in her Banktoun trilogy. I wasn’t disappointed. SJI Holliday has created a gripping mystery which hooks you from the first page. I wanted to find out what had happened to Jo and Claire all those years ago and if, what had happened, was linked to events happening in the present. The atmosphere in this book is brilliant; I thought the setting of the town was perfect for this type of crime as I never could be sure about any of the characters in the book.

A really excellent debut. I’m definitely going to be reading more from SJI Holliday.

Publisher: Black & White Publishing

Publication date: 24th February 2015

Print length: 256 pages



The Accident by S.D. Monaghan blog tour @SeanMonaghan16 @bookouture

The Accident: A gripping psychological thriller that will have you hooked by [Monaghan, S.D.]


One mistake could change your life forever.

Tara has it all. Married and about to move into her dream home, she can’t explain why she is tempted by one last fling with her ex before she settles down.

David would do anything for Tara. So when he finds her with another man, his world starts to crumble around him.

Ryan isn’t prepared to for the punch David throws at him. Stumbling, he slips over the balcony and falls three storeys to the patio below.

In one split second a man will be killed. In one split second David and Tara’s life will change forever.

How far would you go to save everything you have?


The Accident is a tense and claustrophobic read from S.D. Monaghan, once you start reading this, you won’t be able to stop.

David and Tara have everything they could ever want in their life. Tara has made a fortune from her paintings, and they have just completed building work on a luxury new home in a prestigious part of town. David is riding high, a man who originated from the local estate; he sometimes can’t believe his luck that he managed to escape. But in the opening pages of the book, he discovers that his pregnant wife, Tara has slept with her former boyfriend, Ryan, the man who has helped to build their home. David’s world is torn apart, and one wrong move on his part leads to devastating consequences for them both. Is everything David and Tara worked for about to come to a crushing end?

The opening pages of this book had me hooked, I wanted to know how David was going to get himself out of the situation he now found himself in. What follows is a twisty ride as David and Tara’s world begins to spiral out of control. There were some tense scenes in this book, heightened by the fact that Tara was pregnant which came with the fear that she could lose the baby due to the stress and worry this new situation has brought on them.

S.D. Monaghan’s character’s kept me gripped throughout the novel. There were times when I struggled to like both David and Tara, but they were both intriguing. I was interested in learning about their background, particularly as Tara was once David’s student, and it made for fascinating reading to learn how they met and how this subsequently blossomed into a relationship. I also found David’s background interesting, particularly as he had come from a deprived area and had managed to escape.

The Accident is a good debut that I would recommend for thriller lovers. S D Monaghan is a writer that I will be keeping an eye on. Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for the advance reader copy and to Noelle Holton for the place on the blog tour.

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 1st September 2017

Print length: 265 pages