“Everyone has an unlucky day and today is going to be mine. I feel it as soon as I open my eyes and hobble over to the window in my bedroom. My stomach is tight and twisty, and my mouth is dry.” So begins Sana Rasoul’s spooky debut that puts a new spin on the timeless “don’t go down to the woods alone” trope, with an opening that sparks curiosity – how, exactly, will Ari’s day turn out to be unlucky?

Ari’s family certainly hasn’t had much luck lately. A year has passed since his older sister ran away. Except Ari knows the truth – Lana didn’t run, she was taken by the Twig Man, a tree monster of terrifying repute. While all the local kids chant, “Beware the Twig Man, the Twig Man’s hex. Beware the Twig Man, or you’ll be NEXT!”, Ari can’t not go into the woods, he can’t not try to rescue his sister. And so a spooky, atmospheric mystery snakes (literally…) to a gripping finale.

With an engagingly strident narrative voice, this is aimed at pre-teen readers who are edging towards more grown-up perspectives, with wonderful details about the family’s Kurdish heritage (and a glossary of Kurdish terms) threaded through the haunting tale.



Author, Sana Rasoul

What the Shortlist Committee Say...

"A tantalisingly twisty mystery with spine-tingling atmosphere"