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Savage Woods

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Bram Stoker award-nominated author Mary SanGiovanni returns with a terrifying tale of madness, murder, and mind-shattering evil . . .

Nilhollow—six-hundred-plus acres of haunted woods in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens—is the stuff of urban legend. Amid tales of tree spirits and all-powerful forest gods are frightening accounts of hikers who went insane right before taking their
Kindle Edition, 204 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Lyrical Underground
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
In New Jersey’s Pine Barrens lies Nilhollow, a woods that some say just may be haunted and most have heard the rumors or legends that surround the area. Among the tales of missing hikers come stories of tree spirits and all powerful forest gods that have driven some insane before taking their own lives.

Julia Russo lives near the area of Nilhollow and when she is forced to run for her life from her violent ex-boyfriend she finds herself deep in the woods. After Julia has vanished without a trace
Armand Rosamilia
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm a New Jersey guy and love reading horror stories set in the state of my birth. This was a great character-driven story and I loved it. I've read a couple of other books from this author and will eventually read all of the rest.

The history of Nilhollow was fascinating and gave it such a real feel to the overall plot.
Malina Skrobosinski
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The woods are alive! The trees told me. They are whispering about it. I can hear them still...

I rather enjoyed this novel. It was a fast paced entertaining horror novel. It's imaginative, suspenseful, and best of all, gory! That's right folks, it's packed with lots of descriptive scenes with blood and guts, so if you're not a fan of the gore, then keep moving.

This novel definitely has that cheesy horror movie quality about it, but I think what makes it work is the writing. I was very
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5 stars.

SAVAGE WOODS, by Mary SanGiovanni, is a horror novel that combines elements of Folklore and "Elementals" in a forest setting. The Nilhollow area in Pine Barrens is a part of the forest that locals--and even those new to the area--instinctively shun. A source of countless rumors among the people in town, some regarded the area as nothing more than an urban legend, whereas others could only articulate that something about it was simply....wrong.

". . . this place in the woods where they
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
The woods are savage indeed. Possible pissed off sacrificing their lives to mediocre books. Such as this one...and mine is the first review of it on GR, so there'll be some positive things too for a balanced opinion. I'm familiar with SanGiovanni's work since her Leisure days and later Darkfuse, there's a certain quality that maintains throughout, but nothing really wows. She can tell a story, she got all the basics down, likeable to semi likeable characters, pacing, etc. and she can appease ...more
Kenneth McKinley
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, own-kindle
The woods are alive. At least that's what Mary SanGiovanni would like you to believe in her latest offering, Savage Woods. The Nilhollow section of New Jersey's Pine Barrens has had its history of weird happenings. People tend to go missing here. Think of it as New Jersey's answer to the Bermuda Triangle. This has dated back tens of thousands of years. The Native Americans knew this and avoided this area like the plague. But what causes it? SanGiovanni attempts to explain it by introducing us to ...more
Tyler J [They/He] Gray
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read the full review and more on my book blog!

Actual Rating: 3.5

TW: Blood, Gore, Language, Fire, Abuse, Death, Suicide, Self-Harm, Murder, Rape

This was an entertaining horror novel that kept me turning the pages fast. Julia has an abusive ex. One that made me able to relate to her in that way because i've been what she has been through, to a degree. Her ex goes completely off the rails to say the least but before that, the way he made her feel, the thoughts she had, i've been there. It felt real
Michael Hicks
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, netgalley
After reading Chills last year, my first Mary SanGiovanni book, the author immediately shot to my must-read list and I’d been patiently waiting for her next release since finishing that prior story. Chills was a great introduction to Mary’s work, so I dove right into Savage Woods at the first opportunity.

Unfortunately, Savage Woods didn’t entirely work for me – mostly due to personal hurdles, rather than the author’s work. As much as I love horror and this genre’s tropes, I’m not real big on
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Pine Barrens in New Jersey has long been steeped in stories about the supernatural and bizarre occurrences, most infamously being stories about the Jersey Devil. In this lean and mean horror novel, Mary Sangiovanni brings a mix of Pagan lore and mythology mixed liberally with plenty of horror. When a young woman goes missing after an altercation with her abusive ex, NJ State Trooper Pete Grainger feels compelled to investigate. He knows her, has worked her abuse case, and in spite of his ...more
A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol)
DNF @54%

I really wanted to like this story about a creepy forest that comes to evil life. But I couldn’t. It started out ok, it was scary and shudder–worthy, even more so because I actually live in the woods. Yes. I do. *gasps* But then, it just…got stupid. And the writing is nothing to, well, write home about. So, I gave it the ol’ college try, but ultimately scrapped it at the 54% mark. Cool concept, execution fail.
Tracy Robinson
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. There were some definite moments that had me looking over my shoulder as I went on a few of my hikes. I'm looking forward to getting into other works by Sangiovanni.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Once again, I have been drawn into a perfectly written synopsis only to have the book turn out to be less than stellar. I've had this issue before with this author, but I decided to give her another chance specifically because this story was centered in the Pine Barrens.

I live in the Pine Barrens. And let me tell you, there is definitely something creepy about these woods at night. Yes, people go missing in the Pines, yes it is rumored that the Mafia used it for a dumping ground years ago, and
Kevin Lucia
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To be covered soon on CDonline.
Janet Robel
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I always enjoy a good horror where everyone drops like flies. This wasn't as good as a previous one I've read by this author but still entertaining. The tree spirits theme is a nice change from most scary novels. This is imaginative and I liked the concept of it all. You certainly don't want to be in these woods either day or night. If you like to be scared, then this fits the bill nicely.
In this scary story, evil lurks in the woods. Including wood spirits and an ancient evil, the woods turn against everybody who dares entering...with bloody consequences.

Creepy woods and lots of gore, B-movie style - the summary immediately caught my interest, but unfortunately I lost it almost immediately when I strated reading. The prologue, which explains the wood spirits and the reason why the Nilhollow area is doomed, was somewhat irritating - unspeakable spirit names which I constantly
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: e-books, netgalley
This horror novel was just okay for me. It had plenty of gore in it but lacked the "edge of your seat", "look over your shoulder" sensation to it.

I was given an eARC by the publisher through NetGalley.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
“Savage Woods” is the latest novel by Bram Stoker Award nominated author Mary SanGiovanni who has a wide ranging back-catalogue as both a novelist and short story writer of supernatural fiction spanning the last decade. However, although “Savage Woods” was a solid enough tale, predominately set in a very dangerous forest, it offered little which was particularly new and had a plot which was pretty familiar to the genre. Although there are positives to highlight, ultimately there just wasn’t ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
New Jersey's Pine Barrens sounds like the kind of place I would want to visit. Being a West Coaster I find it hard to think of New Jersey having forests but I guess they do. The Pines Barrens is a place of legends known mostly as a perennial burial ground for mafia type clean-ups and the stomping ground for The Jersey Devil. In Savage Woods, Mary SanGiovanni by the stroke of a pen visits the Pine Barrens, particularly a fictional (I presume) seven hundred acres part of it called the Nilhollow. ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Would you go to a haunted woods? In a woods called Nilhollow, it is well know that once you go in, one seldom comes out. What happens to them? Some believe the Native American legends and others believe that it is haunted. The rangers of the forest seem to believe there are tree spirits and powerful forest gods. Julia is lost in the forest trying to escape her ex-boyfriend who beats her when he doesn't like something she did. Julia is saved from him by the forest until finally he finds her. He ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Best horror book ever? Meh. Fairly fun, spooky scary story with some above average writing thrown in? Yes. So, for the good: It's fast paced, it has wonderfully detailed goriness from a fairly original evil boogie in the woods, and the characters are overall likeable. I read this story fairly quickly, and am very glad NetGalley gave me the opportunity to have an ARC of this book.

I probably would have enjoyed this story more, but there were some strange moments thrown in that kind of veered off
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview Savage Woods by Mary SanGiovanni.
This book will have you scared as you drive down the NJ turnpike looking for the infamous Pine Barrens.
Nilhollow is nestled in the Pine Barrens area of NJ. There is much fokelore about this area including missing persons, crazed rants from those who had been there, and mysterious happenings. Most people avoid this location, but not everyone.
The story begins when two brothers are out camping in Nilhollow and one
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Part horror, part mystery...this book will keep you guessing and feeling the mounting terror as you read. If you like the kind of classic horror where the enemy is not sen right away and the kind of novel that makes you believe real evil could exist, then this should be a perfect choice for you.

This book begins with a bit of an explanation about what is going on, but it doesn't really make a lot of sense until you get further into the novel and the pieces start fitting together. I liked the way
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
“The Nilhollow Chasm”

All the stories I've read in the past about the New Jersey Pine Barrens area were centered on the legendary Jersey Devil. This story is different. This story is about a small sub-section of the Pine Barrens called Nilhollow. It has a Bermuda Triangle mystique about it. Hikers, campers, rangers, all sorts of people have gone into Nilhollow in the past and have never come out.

It is a story of a living aware forest:

"The lesser, the elemental spirits of the trees, were restless
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
*Copy provided through Netgalley*

Possible light SPOILERS!!!

The Good: I enjoyed the forest setting, which lent a great deal to the nice creepy atmosphere that held throughout most of the book. The inclusion of the Native American myths was well done. That could have easily gone the other way and I'm please it didn't. As a horror lover, this book had some nice touches and I quite enjoyed those pieces.

The Not-So-Good: I've read countless Kensington and Lyrical books, and I must say, this book
Douglas Castagna
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Pine Barrens have always been surrounded in mystery and folklore, and SanGiovanni has created a new folklore within an already rich locale. Firstly, a subset of the Barrens is chosen, a fictitious Nilhollow, that has some very powerful Native American juju attached to it. Soon the trees are imbued with a supernatural power and are literally tearing people apart. The violence and gore are on point if that is what you are looking for, and the story is well constructed. The characterization is ...more
Patrice Leonard
I received an ARC of this title from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Well, I have to sadly say that I didn't enjoy this one. The writing was really good, please don't get me wrong. It was the story in general. I used to live close to the Pine Barrens so I'm familiar with the area and let me tell is absolutely terrifying, day or night. SO that's what drew me to this title. I liked the characters enough to finish the book. But, at the end of the day it
Somer Canon
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read enough of this author's work that I can end up in knots wondering if the end will be happy or royally effed up. It makes reading her books so damn fun and this book has earned me chewed nubs in place of fingernails. The ending was a satisfying finish to a great ride of a story, and I cannot help but be giddy with love over one of the main characters comforting herself by talking to her purse. It's sweet, relatable, and one of those startlingly real details that keeps me coming back to ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Savage Woods by Mary Sangiovanni.

This is old school horror - and it works. The story is gory, violent, and just fun.

You might need to stretch your imagination just a touch. I try not do many spoilers, so I’ll just tell you that what’s behind our horrors is fun, but it never truly rises to believable for me.

I did love our characters. Our likable ones were extremely likable and our not-so-likable ones were – let’s just say fun – especially when some of them bleed.

This is a fast,
Sarah Davies
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have never read any Mary SanGiovanni stories before but now I will look out for her books.

Savage Woods is a good horror / fantasy story, with the woods having many stories about it in the past and people known to have gone missing before why would you going camping there??

But this a well rounded and fast paced story that keeps you interested until the last page.

Good mix of characters with a good interaction to their storylines.

Good descriptive story and not too horrific!!! Well worth a read.
Illustrious Illusions
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Savage Woods was ok...I don't much go for the fantasy, but there were some good descriptions and information given. While the blurb drew me in with the promise of some terror and horror, which I took for an edge of your seat type read, there are some descriptive scenes but nothing that kept me turning each page wanting to see what happened. It was so well laid out that it left little for a reader to get invested in.
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Mary SanGiovanni is the author of over twenty books, most recently SAVAGE WOODS, NIGHT MOVES, and the forthcoming THE SKIN WE'RE IN. Her fiction has appeared in periodicals and anthologies for the last decade. She has a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Pittsburgh, where she studied under genre greats. She is currently a member of The Authors Guild, The ...more
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