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Stranger in the Woods  By  cover art

Stranger in the Woods

By: Anni Taylor
Narrated by: Harriet Gordon-Anderson
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Publisher's Summary

Photographer Isla Wilson is thrilled she's landed her dream job, but the clients who hired her are getting stranger by the day.

It sounded so perfect—a month's assignment at the lush Scottish Highlands property of architect Alban McGregor, and his wife, Jessica.

But in the woods, there's a playhouse with a chilling history.

Two years ago, the McGregors' daughter Elodie was abducted and then died in that playhouse. The townspeople insist her abductor had to be a stranger in their town. Alban refuses to knock the playhouse down, even keeping a picture of it on his wall.

Sensing the McGregors and townspeople are keeping terrible secrets, Isla plans to discover the truth.

But the closer Isla comes to uncovering answers, the more the danger mounts. And with a dense cover of snow now blanketing the town, all chance of escape might already be gone.

©2018 Anni Taylor (P)2022 Audible Australia Pty Ltd.

What listeners say about Stranger in the Woods

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good book!

You never know what you’re getting when you pick a free book. This one was a pleasant surprise. Kept me guessing and had an unexpected twist!

16 people found this helpful

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  • Me
  • 09-09-22

Love this book!

This book was absolutely amazing. Great story!!! Twists and turns…. I love this book and this author!

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The end has twist you won't see coming!!

I loved this book. I loved the narrator. And the ending twist was great!

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not good pick another book

I hate the main character, I listened for what seem loke eternity and absolutely nothing happens to the point I just gave up (and I work nights alone I have all the time in the world to listen) this just sucked

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Far-fetched

So many things about this story strike me as odd. The ending though…was a complete disappointment. The level of coincidence required to make this story work is laughable.

7 people found this helpful

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Started out well, then I was perplexed

The brilliance of author Anni Taylor and narrator Harriet Gordon-Anderson shine through. Anderson’s narrative skills are spot-on. Following Australian photographer, Isla. on a work-related trip to the Highlands in Scotland, she is confronted by unusual and quirky townspeople and mysterious happenings. Midway through, i was confused, lost interest and jumped to the end. Maybe it was me. As my editor, dear friend and mentor wisely told me in 1979, “If everyone liked the same things, the world would indeed be a boring one.” RIP Dan Di Leo

7 people found this helpful

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whew!

Dang! I went into this book kind of blind and I was not prepared for it at all! A top 10 book for me. You keep thinking you know what's happening, but I will tell you, you do not!! Holy plot twist and SURPRISE!! Just read it!

7 people found this helpful

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Wow!

Honestly I'd give this story 7 or 8 stars out of 5. From beginning to end, my jaw kept dropping. I thought I knew who dunnit, but I was wrong.

5 people found this helpful

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Oh dear! (SPOILERS)

It's hard to know where to begin critiquing this novel. But maybe I should start with the title, which is misleading. Because it isn't about a stranger in the woods, but a man that's well-known in the community, including to the children he has been abusing and grooming.

But now let's turn to the plot, such as it is. For the first half of this book nothing much seems to be happening. Yes, the reader is drawn in by the first chapter in which we learn that an 8-year old girl, left alone in a house in a remote part of northern Scotland, decides to wander the woods at night and is captured by a man who demands respect and love from her. We soon learn that the girl is so drugged up by him she goes into a coma. She dies. Very convenient for the perpetrator.

Then the story changes tack and we learn that award-winning photographer, Isla Wilson, has accepted a commission to take a series of photos for a portfolio celebrating the work of local architect, Alban McGregor. Isla lives in Sydney, Australia and the architect lives near Inverness in Scotland (seems there isn't sufficient talent in the UK for this job!). But when Isla arrives at Greenmire it's obvious that neither Alban nor his wife, Jessica, are thrilled at the prospect. Even though this was Jessica's idea and Alban's assistant, Greer, executes on it, it's as if Isla's appearance is one huge inconvenience. Or worse.

For page after page we're told about the development of "the portfolio" and introduced to such a huge cast of characters that I found myself having to write them all down to keep track of who belonged to which of four families, each with a plot of land abutting the others.

Then everything, at least as far as the plot is concerned, goes haywire. If I had the chance to interview anyone involved in the production of this book I'd want to know how realistic they think it is that an amnesiac (brought on by a grand mal seizure two years previously) would have forgotten a) that she'd already been to Scotland as a student, b) had gotten pregnant, and c) given the baby up, without any inclination that any of this had happened.

The aftermath of this event (including giving birth in a rat-infested ruin of a church in the middle of nowhere) was so bad that Isla's mother had had to fly to Scotland to collect her screwed up daughter. But when Isla announces that she's going back to that very same, remote location, the mother -- who has never uttered a word about what really happened in Scotland to her daughter -- seems to offer no more objection than, "Is that really a good idea?" Seriously? Isla took months to recover and was so traumatised by her experience that she can't remember a thing about it but her mother lets her go back there, completely ignorant, without raising any major objections? Or telling her the truth? It had been two years, after all.

Then, of course, having traveled half way around the world Isla comes across a guy she once dated briefly, a fellow Australian. Of course she can't remember him and he's mighty ticked off that she dumped him (according to his version of events). How coincidental is that? But it's the author's way of obliquely hinting that perhaps Isla has been here before. Which I would have thought a quick look through her passport could have confirmed, since presumably as a foreigner with a student visa she would have needed to have had it stamped in some way,

Then there are the two women in the village (Camille and Jessica) who are having a relationship - sexual or "just friends - with the pedophile. Sadly, women's intuition seems to have failed them on this occasion as neither seem to realize that he likes little girls, including both of their daughters. But Taylor only gives up that Hamish, the 20-something brother, could be the perp since he "mistakenly" dated a 15-year old girl. Peyton is barely mentioned in the story, other than being described as good-looking, so we are given no sense of motivation for his actions or how he managed to keep his sickness under wraps from his family.

Don't even get me started on the ridiculousness of the pregnancy plot. An estranged husband (Alban) meets Isla in a nightclub, not knowing that she's the woman his wife has paid thirty grand to be a surrogate and is secretly using his sperm to impregnate. I may have missed this bit - to be honest, I listened to much of this before bed and fell asleep in parts -- but if Jessica was having sex with Alban in order to have another child, wouldn't it have been simpler to put needle holes in his condoms rather than fake a pregancy with a prosthetic? As if having another baby when your marriage is all but over is ever a good way to stay together! Oh, and I don't know if the author is a mother herself, but in my experience carrying a child has many more physical signs that a swollen belly. So how come Jessica was able to pull off the fake pregnancy in such a small town when her ankles weren't swollen, for example, or her face fatter? Why didn't isla or her mother figure out she'd had a baby in Scotland when presumably she must have been lactating after giving birth to Rhiannon (sp?)?

I could go on and on but I think you get my drift. As many other reviewers have pointed out, this novel is just so bizarre and convoluted that I'm amazed it has garnered as many five stars as it has. But each to his/her own.

For my part I thought this was both a boring and preposterous story that's overwritten in parts ("tears glistened wetly on her face"). Maybe you'll enjoy it. I thought it was dreadful.

4 people found this helpful

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Soooooo boring!

This book was a huge disappointment! What a waste of time. I literally skipped whole chapters and nothing happened! Ugh don’t waste your time!

4 people found this helpful

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  • K Mac
  • 10-06-22

Could have been told in half the time.

This book felt heavily padded. So many sentences that didn't need to be there. I thought the book was over about 3 different times but it kept going. I'm all for willing suspension of disbelief but this was so far fetched that I laughed out loud on occasion. It's a shame because the original premise was good but the reader is expected to believe too many unbelievable things.

5 people found this helpful

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  • August74
  • 10-03-22

Hmmm

It listened to the end because the writer continues to create new twists and intrigue throughout. Things she does well include creating a quite gothic feel and lots of mystery.
The big problem, for me, is that she has created some very far-fetched plot devices that simply don’t pay off. It is as though she has decided on the events and then crammed the logic and reasoning at the end with some very tenuous explanations. In fact there are a lot of examples of telling rather than showing which are fundamental mistakes an experienced writer shouldn’t make. The heroine’s reasoning and logic is very flawed, she ignores some very obvious clues and then finds tenuous reasons not to trust her instincts. I kept finding the writer justifying her choices through the main character and it became very annoying.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew Stonehouse
  • 10-23-22

Far fetched, not overly thrillery.

The plot is not well thought out and relies on the reader believing in alot of very unlikely coincidences happening. The main character is wishy washy. Also alot of the characters have no reason for doing things and apparently don't notice major plot points because they need not to for the story. Overall very meh. Also the author has never visited Scotland or Inverness (where the story is set) Performance was good.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • AmandaQuirky
  • 09-30-22

Odd Story, Not Bad, Not Great

I listened to this after enjoying another book from this author, but this was a bit of a disappointment. The twist at the end was more like bad fanfiction than a novel, and it made everything else less believable by extension.

The narrator did a great job and was very pleasant to listen to, which helped me make it to the end, but the story itself just wasn't up to this author's usual standard.

In addition to the contrived plot twist, I found most of the characters unlikable or unbelievable. Liking the characters is not a requirement--I actively want a good villain to loathe from time to time--but believing they could exist, is. I simply can't enjoy a story if I feel like I neither know nor care for any of the characters.

Interesting at points, but ultimately a struggle to finish, is my final take on this unwieldy tale.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-02-22

different

a bit long winded at parts and could have been shorter and held interest better

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • ula
  • 09-29-22

What a whole lot of drivel!

I kept listening hoping it will turn around but it didn’t. No idea where all the good reviews came from. The only positive thing is that it was for free otherwise a waste of credit and waste of time

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Boz
  • 09-19-22

I found this story gripping.

I found this story gripping. It's not offen I don't know what's going to happen or where a story is leading but this one got me. Never guessed it. They book is well written in my opinion. The pronouncing of Aviemore really got my goat. The rest I could just about over look. It real is worth a listen or maybe a read.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr WSD
  • 12-03-22

Very much enjoyed

Some great twists and turns, some easier to predict than others. Overall really enjoyed and would recommend.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Louise Panton
  • 12-02-22

Couldn’t get past the terrible Scottish accents

And storyline was dull - gave up on this one by about a third of the way through

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-02-22

A good listen

Really enjoyed this book. Lots of good plot twists I didn't see coming. Worth listening to.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-19-22

Another hit!

This is my second book by this author and she’s fantastic I really enjoyed this book and the last one I’ll be listing to the rest of the books from her definitely recommend this!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Chrissie
  • 09-22-22

A Brilliant Read

This is the first book I have read by Anni Taylor and it was a really good read. I had this book as a freebie on my Audible plus, so I wasnt expecting something this good. A LOT of twists and turns I had no ideas of what the outcomes were going to be. The narrator does a good accent but I think Aviemore is the only word pronounced wrong!! Or it could be a new suburb or town in Scotland hahaha Anyway I am off to actually purchase the first in "The Tallman's Valley" series by same author, thanks Anni & Audible for making this available (Audible plus is a great way to listen to new authors) Regards Chrissie

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-20-22

Great story, loads of twists

Great story - fast paced, engaging. Masterfully narrated - a pleasure to listen to. definitely recommend

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jenifer Djukich
  • 11-20-22

fantastic story

absolutely loved this story so many twists and turns I highly recommend this story!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-18-22

Great story!

Loved the story and the choice of narrator was perfect, I loved the character voicing. What a great twist at the end.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-18-22

A long story

Good listen, some moments that drag but the twist are good and the story unfolds in an interesting way.
Would make an excellent miniseries- the settings, the characters are all clearly painted.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-18-22

really good

normally you can kinda predict where a story is going but this was twisty

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christaki
  • 11-17-22

More twists and turns than Donald Trump

I really enjoyed this book. It was cleverly written and well performed. Each time I though to myself "aha! He is the villain" I would be proven wrong. There were more twists and turns in this book than a certain politician trying to invent the truth (Forgive me, Republicans, for I am but a simple Aussie). There is NO WAY you could guess the outcome.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amy
  • 11-14-22

Excellent book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this title, becoming very hooked quite early on in the story.
I was unsure initially about the two intertwining plots, feeling as though it overly complicated things.
The connection between the two was executed wonderfully though. A job very well done. I will explore more from this author and the narrator also.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-14-22

Awesome

Loved this book so much, lots of twists didn’t want it to finish.
Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful