Title: The Beast of Harwood Forest (The Crooked Oak Mysteries #2)
Author: Dan Smith
Illustrator: Chris King
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Genre: Older children’s/middle grade fiction, Mystery
Book format: Paperback
Sweet Strawberries:  Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

Description:  What’s hiding in Harwood Forest …?
When Pete, Nancy and Krish arrive at Heathland Camp for a school trip, they’re in for an adventure – just not the kind they were expecting.
Nearby sits the abandoned Harwood Institute. The crumbling buildings are out of bounds but strange screams come from the surrounding forest at night. Secrecy surrounds the events that took place at the institute during the war, so Pete and his friends make it their mission to find out the truth.
But the forest is hiding a sinister secret, and the trio could be in real danger … Are some mysteries best left undisturbed?

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  Wow, this is such a good and creepy story!   Friends Pete, Nancy and Krish are on a school trip where they are going to stay at a camp for a few nights.  While on the bus on the way to the camp, Pete spots what looks like some interesting abandoned buildings, and wants to explore them, but everyone tells him that they are strictly out of bounds.  Pete is still curious though, and when he, Nancy and Krish begin to explore the forest to find the buildings it isn’t long before they come across something truly terrifying in the forest!

The Beast of Harwood forest book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

Wow, I just love a creepy story like this one!  When Pete and his friends arrive at the camp, they enjoy some spooky stories and some fun activities, but Pete’s interest in the abandoned buildings won’t go away and he’s soon getting Nancy and Krish to help him explore the area.  I just love what happens in this story and the details of what exactly the beast in Harwood forest is.  The story follows the same three friends that I first read about in ‘The Invasion of Crooked Oak’ but you don’t need to have read that book to read this one and the story here is such a good standalone with a brilliant creepy vibe.

There is something scary lurking within the forest and the three friends soon end up lost in the middle of the dark woods at night.  I won’t reveal the details of what happens but I just love the creepy and eerie feeling in this story and how great the writing and descriptions are that they really helped to bring the scary atmosphere to life in such a vivid way.  I like how this story has some more detail to it than just the scary creature in the forest and there’s actually something interesting revealed about it towards the end.

The ending is a really good one and I like what the three friends do at the end and what happens with the scary thing that lurks in the forest.  It’s such a good story and ending that it felt both creepy and also a little poignant too.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in a good creepy and interesting story.  The book isn’t too long, at just over one hundred pages and is perfect for all readers but being a Barrington Stoke book it’s especially made to be dyslexia friendly with yellowed extra thick pages and a special font that makes it easier to read (and paragraphs spaced out too).

The illustrations in this book are so good, they occur on several pages throughout the story and help to enhance the already creepy vibe of the tale, especially when the three friends enter the woods.  Each picture is in black, white and grey and I just love how all of the characters have such expressive faces and just how scary something appears in the woods, later in the story!

The Beast of Harwood forest book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

Overall this is such a great book for both dyslexics and also anyone who just wants an easy, shorter read, but one that is so creepy and fun!  I really enjoyed reading ‘The Invasion of Crooked Oak’ but after reading this book I think this one is now my favourite in the series so far!  It’s just a brilliant and creepy read and a perfect one for this time of year.  Definitely a book I’d recommend at any time of year but especially now during the spookiest month of the year!

– This review was featured on Twinkl as part of their Great & Ghostly Guide to Halloween.


What do you think of this book?  Do you like books with a creepy atmosphere?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂