In the Heart of the Dark Wood   -     By: Billy Coffey
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In the Heart of the Dark Wood

Thomas Nelson / 2014 / Paperback

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Product Description

Mary Granderson's body was never found after a tornado swept through the town of Mattingly. For her daughter Allie, each of the 542 days since have robbed her of a bit more hope that her mother will come home. Allie's father has turned to drink in a failed effort to contain his grief. What light still shines in Allie's life comes from three things: her best friend Zach, the broken compass Mary gave her just before the tornado struck, and the nativity scene that has sat in their front yard ever since-mother, father, and child together.

Allie wakes one morning to find Mary missing from the nativity-taken, she believes, by her father in an attempt to force Allie to move on. Amidst her panic and grief, Allie discovers that the compass on her wrist-broken since the tornado-is now functioning, and the needle points not north, but to Mary.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 384
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 8.38 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1401690092
ISBN-13: 9781401690090
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

A motherless girl hungry for hope . . . and the dream that could be leading her astray.

Almost two years have passed since twelve-year-old Allie Granderson’s beloved mother, Mary, disappeared into the wild tornado winds. Her body has never been found.

Allie clings to memories of her mother, just as she clings to the broken compass she left behind, the makeshift Nativity scene in the front yard, and her best friend Zach. But even with Zach at her side, the compass on her wrist, and the Nativity right outside the window, Allie cannot help but feel lost in all the growing up that must get done.

When the Holy Mother disappears from the yard, Allie’s bewilderment is compounded by the sudden movement of her mother’s compass.

Following the needle, Allie and Zach leave the city behind and push into the inky forest on the outskirts of Mattingly. For Allie, the journey is more than a ghost hunt: she is rejoining the mother she lost—and finding herself with each step deeper into the heart of the dark wood.

Brimming with lyrical prose and unexpected discoveries, In the Heart of the Dark Wood illustrates the steep transition we all must undergo—the moment we shed our childlike selves and step into the strange territory of adulthood.

Editorial Reviews

“Coffey pens a coming-of-age story about the tribulations of the heart that is profoundly believable. The dialogues between characters are intensely rewarding to follow, and readers will anticipate the danger ahead; they will not pull away from the novel until it is finished. Suspense and mysteries of spirit make for a winning combination for any reader.”

Product Reviews

4.2 Stars Out Of 5
4.2 out of 5
4.2 out Of 5
(4.2 out of 5)
4.4 out Of 5
(4.4 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Displaying items 1-5 of 5
Page 1 of 1
  1. Indiana
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    February 5, 2015
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Billy Coffey once again has written a brilliant masterpiece which captures both the heart and mind of readers everywhere. One never knows exactly what mystery waits in the pages of his novels; yet, anticipation always runs high when first opening the book. In other novels written by the author, I experienced mystery that is spiritual and yet palpable in the deepest part of my soul. All of the authors novels are set in the town of Mattingly where the woods have been the focus of many stories and adventures.

    When opening the story with the character Allie Granderson and her fixation on the plastic figure of Mary in her nativity which she leaves on display year round, readers will soon get lost in the heart-gripping tale. Allies father, Marshall, brings an all too true and realistic way some deal with lifes tragedies along with Allies response to Marshall. The story is set five days before Christmas. Allie along with her best friend Tommy set out to find the plastic figure Mary that was blown away in a storm.

    The tale brings out the themes of unresolved grief, community support, faith, puberty and discovery. The novel begins with the kids in school before break and then leads readers on a heart-tugging adventure all the way to Christmas. As the two main characters, Tommy and Allie, set out for the woods to find the missing Mary, they discover along the way something heart-stopping. The author takes readers to what is happening with the two kids to what is also occurring at the same time in the town of Mattingly. The way the author wrote it was wonderful and reminds us of the multi-faceted way life happens which only God can see and we tend to forget is happening.

    Grab a copy and then sit down and be prepared for an adventure in Billy Coffeys novel, In the Heart of the Dark Wood!
  2. Columbus, GA
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Recommended with Caution, Maybe
    February 3, 2015
    Columbus, GA
    Gender: female
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3
    "In the Heart of the Dark Wood" is a coming of age story about two eleven-year-olds, a boy and a girl who've been best friends for pretty much all of their lives, who get lost in the woods and struggle to survive. Unfortunately, they have different goals apart from surviving. Zach wants to do the responsible and manly thing, to get himself, the girl, and her dog safely home. Allie wants to complete the mission that brought them to the woods in the first place. She wants to find her mother, who disappeared 18 months earlier when a tornado devastated their town. The author tells us one day into their ordeal exactly how long it will last; he just doesn't tell us whether or not they will get home alive . . . and he really keeps readers guessing about that.

    As fascinating as the book was, in a just-can't-look-away-from-the-wreck sort of way, I recommend it with caution, if I recommend it at all. I can't make up my mind. If I hadn't promised to read it for review, I probably would have put it down before the 10th page. Even then, I almost set it aside at about page 80; I'd just had enough of the author's focus on all the unpleasant details of life. A lot of it seemed unnecessary and irrelevant, too much. I did keep reading, though, and once the kids were lost in the woods, I wanted to know their fate. Now that I know, I'm not sure I believe their story ended the way it did. And I'm not sure I get the message of the book, other than that, in order to grow up, we have to let go of the past and move as bravely as we can into the future, and that God, Who is more mysterious than we can comprehend, is watching over us and directing our steps even though He sometimes leads us into painful or unpleasant places for our ultimate good and growth.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for this honest review.
  3. Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Not the best from Coffey
    January 8, 2015
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 3
    Coffey's books have that haunting sense of magical realism, where the spiritual intersects the natural. Such is the case with this one.

    While the first two novels about Mattingly grabbed me, this one was harder for me to read. I thought the opening scenes when Allie begins to menstruate were just odd. I realize this is part of the coming of age aspect of the novel but, as a woman, I just did not feel good about this part of the novel.

    An aspect of the novel I found limiting was the emphasis on two characters. Allie and Zach are kids and there is only so much character development that can be framed within the experiences the two had. The setting of being in the wild limited the outer influences upon them. Having them come across an old mountain man could have added variety to their growth experiences.

    And that leads to another area. I felt the book was just too long and repetitious. After a while I had to push myself to continue reading. I got tired of yet another near death experience. I almost felt like Coffey was aiming for quantity of words rather than quality. I did not find many memorable sentences like I did in his previous books.

    The novel is an interesting representation of good and evil and would generate good discussion. Does God use evil and disaster to direct us to where He wants us to go? Why does God have sharp edges?

    A good novel, just not his best.

    I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
  4. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    Full of wonder
    November 25, 2014
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    This is a story that slowly unravels and once you are in the heart of it you wont want to turn back.

    Allie is like so many students I see come into my classroom everyday. She is lost but wants hope. She clings to hope that might not be real and walks away from the One hope the can save her.

    I loved how real Allie felt. The book begins with a very real situation that every woman has experienced and Allie must deal with without a mother. I cant even imagine how hard that would be.

    Then there is the fear of how grown men are looking at her. The feeling is a like snake curled up in my belly.

    Once Allie decides to go after her missing Mary things get very interesting and scary. I could feel the woods wrapped around me, the cold in my toes and nose.

    Billy did a great job of making this story feel real even though there is some very supernatural stuff going on.

    This is the second book and I did not read the first one. I felt like I could understand what was going on but I also felt like I wanted to know what happened before, like I was missing something. But I dont think you need to read the first book to appreciate and enjoy this one.

    An e-copy of this book was given to me by the publisher through in exchange for an honest review.
  5. Victorville, CA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A 12-year-old girls faith is put to the ultimate test!
    November 2, 2014
    Victorville, CA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "Everyone was lost somehow, turned around in their own darkwood, looking for something that would help them go on. Everyone just wanted to find their way home."

    It's been eighteen months since the Carnival Day Storm when life in Mattingly would be defined as "Old" or "New" based on where you were when you arrived in town. For one young 12-year-old girl, Allie Gunderson has been marking it off in days. 542 when the novel opens. Allie has been holding on to her version of faith, refusing to accept that the tornado that tore her mother from her life, had taken her away for good. Allie was the only one in town who believed that somehow, somewhere, her mother was still out there, waiting to find her way back home. It was why she believed in her daily rituals that began each morning, and offered her a hope that she might just make it through this day.

    "It started with prayer, nothing extravagant or drawn out like the speeches in church; a simply hello and thank-you were usually enough, and were expressed more through Allie's mouth than her heart."(41).

    It was simply a way to mark off the time until her mother, Mary made her way home. Tornadoes were like that some times, picking people up and setting them down miles away from home. But no matter how logical some might argue their point with Allie, her faith remained. The only thing she had left of that day was a compass from the Carnival that her mother had given her. It stopped working long ago, and the strap that held it to her wrist like a watch, was once a bright red, had worn to a faded pink. In fact, she would have lost it several times, had Zach Barnett, not reminded her to keep an eye on it. Zach was one of those parts of her life, where Allie would deny she had feelings for, much like her dog Sam, because Allie knew if you loved someone, God would take them away from you. So she kept them both at arms lengths refusing to acknowledge her feelings for them.

    Until the day her compass began working again. It was the day her faith would be put to the test when Allie believed her mother had found a way to communicate with her. She was simply pointing the way for Allie to come find her and help her find her way home. Now all she needed was to convince Zach to come with her and help prove once and for all that her mother was not dead. She was simply lost and needed help to find her way home, back to Allie and her father Marshall. Zach knew that Allie was barely hanging on by a thread, but he wasn't about to let her set off in search of her mother by herself. They both promised themselves that they would only be gone for a few hours, home by dark, he promised his parents. That would be four days from the day they entered the woods.

    I received In the Heart of the Dark Wood by Billy Coffey compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and Billy Coffey for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions mentioned here are strictly my own unless otherwise notated. This is the third book in this series, and as the author mentions at the beginning, they can be read in any order, but I have to say the way they were written is the best way to begin them. This is a novel in my opinion that explores what faith means in the midst of our darkest times. It is where we face our greatest fears and find our truest strengths. It is where we are tested by fire to see what remains and in this case it is the greatest gift of all, love.

    This isn't one of those novels that is wrapped up in a pretty bow at the end, but will cause you to reflect on the journey you find yourself on where you begin reading it. It's not meant to be rushed but savored, explored, and questioned as you the pages not only of Allie's faith, but Zach's character. It is a coming of age story in a different way because each of them has held on to something they have believed in, but hasn't been tested until they day the enter the woods and it will forever change them, not just Allie and Zach, but the entire town of Mattingly. Hands down, one of my favorites by Billy Coffey and I hope that this is not the end of Mattingly. Many more questions remain but perhaps the answers lie buried until another time. Well deserved 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion. A Reading Group Guide is included at the conclusion of this novel.
Displaying items 1-5 of 5
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