This is my first Natalie D. Richards book, although I own Kindle versions of her other three novels (and am excited to read them after loving this book so much). I also want to point out that I haven’t read Survive the Night or In a Dark, Dark Wood, although I also have copies of these…but I can’t compare them to this novel. But that’s okay – One Was Lost is a horrifyingly dark, intense thrill ride that I couldn’t put down. The suspense in this novel was incredible, and I found myself not wanting to sleep, even after I finished the book, because it was just that awesome.
Sera and a few kids from her class are setting out on a senior camping trip into the woods. Although Sera isn’t all that excited for it, she figured it was a good way to get away for a while. Until a guy she has a history with shows up on the trip, too – making it super awkward for her. That’s nothing compared to what comes next – a storm that causes the river to flood, separating half of their group from the other. When Sera’s group set up camp, only to wake up to some very odd things the next afternoon (for one, why are they waking up so late, and why are they feeling sick?), such as all of their things being tossed around their camping area, and some of them missing, as well as certain words written on their wrists with marker – Damaged, Dangerous, Deceptive, Darling. All four of them have a word, and they strive to figure out what they mean. But when they go back for the other campers who were stranded on the other side of the river…things take a dark turn. It is then that Sera and her classmates must focus on saving their lives instead of spending a few days having a leisurely camping trip. When things start to get even more creepy (think severed fingers), it’s clear that someone doesn’t want them to get away…and they must work together to figure out who that person is, and what they can do to change the frightening outcome before it’s too late.
I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, because that can really ruin a thriller. This is definitely a thriller of the nail-biting variety (and, okay…a little bit too creeped out to sleep variety), and I had to sit up until three in the morning just to finish it because I HAD to see what happened next. It surprised me, scared the crap out of me, and gave me exactly what I was looking for – an engaging read with creepy twists and an intriguing storyline, backed by characters full of depth who you couldn’t help but love (and hate).
The setting – an outdoor wooded area during and after a rainstorm – gives One Was Lost a great atmospheric boost. It’s only set over a few days, but those few days some of the most eerie days these kids could spend in the woods.
The characters were interesting, and they all seemed to be full of personality and had stories that entwined with each other, and the reason that they were all there. The twist at the end is one that I didn’t see coming, and I’m usually able to piece thrillers together rather quickly to figure out what is going to happen at the end. This took me by surprise, and I loved every minute of it. The writing? It totally drew me in and left me wanting more and more. Ms. Richards definitely has a flair for writing a macabre tale that will trip you up and leave you on the edge of your seat.
I love books that offer me a lot of “scary” elements without actually being a horror novel – and this one does it well. If you aren’t a fan of horror but still enjoy the occasional scare, this is the book for you.