24779481
Rating: 9/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 
Title: Silent Woods
Author: Ofelia Gränd
Genre: M/M romance
URL: Beaten Track Publishing
Price: £1.25
Summary [from the publisher]:
When Daniel’s husband Anders takes the family camping in the woods, Daniel can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t right.

He almost dismisses his fears as nothing more than his dislike of the great outdoors, but when the couple’s five-year-old son Axel goes missing, his worst fears are confirmed.

A search party reveals something more sinister than either man could ever have dreamed of encountering in the woods. Can they find Axel and save him before it’s too late?

My review:
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read this story, as I am really pleased so far with the offerings from Beaten Track Publishing.

This lovely, haunting, and tense story kept me riveted and wormed its way into my dreams.

Anders and Daniel are parents to two adopted children, Maya and Axel, who are biological siblings from Argentina. Though they have been together for thirteen years and have a very loving relationship, the two men are like night and day in many ways. Daniel loves the comfort and convenience of urban life, while Anders is an active, adventurous nature lover. Despite Daniel’s dislike of bugs, creepy wildlife, and the eerie solitude of the forest, he agrees to a two-day camping trip with his husband and children in their home of Sweden rather than visiting a foreign country, as Daniel would have preferred. Anders is knowledgeable about the forest, its plants and inhabitants, and its mythical landscape and also wants his children to love and respect nature. His confidence in their adventure reassures Daniel.

What starts out being a peaceful exploration of their new surroundings and quality family time gradually turns into a nightmare. Daniel and Anders are uneasy about the lack of forest sounds – no leaves moving, no chirping birds, and the unsettling feeling of being watched. They keep their anxiety to themselves, not wanting to worry Axel and Maya. In spite of their vigilance, a parent’s worst nightmare comes true and Axel goes missing.

The police come to investigate, and it is obvious to Anders and Daniel that important information is being withheld from them, like details about past drowning incidents. The tension continues to build up as the two men cope with their guilt, fear, and frustration at the lack of resolution in their case. Daniel’s and Anders’ fear, emotional intensity, and desperation are palpable and made me break out into a sweat.

As the inspector in charge becomes more forthcoming about the drowning incidents, the men learn there is some truth in folklore. I loved the mystery, the tension, the creepy ending, and the very believable portrayal of a loving family that shies away from excess sentimentality.

Ofelia Gränd is a new author to me, but you can bet I’ll be on the lookout for more of her stories.

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