First off I need to say a huge thank you to Light Messages Publishing for accepting my request to review 'Silverwood' on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide.
'Silverwood' is not your typical YA science fiction/paranormal novel; you will find no werewolves, vampires or witches within these pages, but instead a terrifying new creature called the Tromindox. The Tromindox are a species of shape shifter who feed off of brain energy, and the most plentiful source of brain waves are their human prey. Understandably, the humans aren't too happy about this, leading the Tromindox to be nearly driven to extinction - hunted down by agents and bounty hunters.
Which brings us to the Silverwood family. Comprised of Helen, a fourteen year old girl, Henry, her nine year old brother, and Kate and Gabriel, their parents, we follow their family throughout the novel. When we join them, Gabriel is an absent father, Kate is working long shifts late into the night, and Helen and Henry are struggling to settle in to the house they've just moved into. Helen is struggling with terrifying nightmares, where she sees monsters turning into people, and Henry is a nine year old boy with an overactive imagination who claims he can see, and subsequently draw, the events in the future. However, as events unfold we learn that they are not who they seem, and sometimes the monsters under the bed are very, very real.
This novel was a very conflicting one for deciding how I felt. The story was very intriguing: I loved the idea of the Tromindox, because too often in YA the monsters are recycled and it's nothing ground-breaking or utterly creative. Betsy Streeter has done an amazing job at constructing the monsters, giving them back story and describing them in such a terrifying way that they sent shivers down my spine.
However, it does seem to be quite obvious that this is a debut novel. Instead of super polished and refined, areas of the book drag quite heavily, repeating themselves and leaving you wading through some unimportant information in an attempt to pick out the meaningful bits. It wasn't too much of an issue for me, because I did have a good amount of time set aside to read this book, but if I'd been on a tighter schedule I can imagine that it would have wound me up quite a lot.
Similarly, the pacing of the novel is not very well organised. Some of the less important events seem stretched out over multiple pages, however some of the events that are really vital seemed to be packed in quite tightly, leaving a confused and rushed feeling. During a couple of the important scenes towards the end of the novel I had to take the time to re-read the pages, making sure that I actually understood everything that was going on, because it seemed to rush past to speed on to the next scene. This would work really well if it was a movie script, but in a novel there really needs to be more description surrounding events such as these. With all of the time jumping and portals, it's easy to get confused as to which time line we're in, and there isn't a lot of explanation for some of the events that occur, but hopefully that will come through in the future.
However, overall I really enjoyed 'Silverwood'. Helen's voice journals were one of my favourite aspects, being very well written and perfectly encapsulating the voice of a confused and lonely teenage girl. The premise of the novel was very good, and with the right amount of promotion and exposure I'm sure the Silverwood family will soon be on a par with the Grimms or the Winchesters. The second novel in the series is being released next year, and even though the first book wrapped up very nicely and I don't need to continue on with the set, I'll probably look it up - with a brain like Betsy's, it'll be intriguing to see what kind of monsters and difficulties pop up in the second novel.