A Walk in the Dark – Jane Godwin

Otway Community School isn’t like other schools, with an approach that’s more collaborative than prescriptive. Head Teacher Johan has even managed to get the parents on board for the Year 9 students to participate in the Dutch tradition of dropping.

‘So, you know the arrangement. We drop you in the forest at four pm, and you must find your way back to school by midnight’

Teams of five will work together to negotiate the 27km (over 16.5 miles) of bushland between the drop location and school. They’re given some instructions, a map, first-aid kit, head torches, compass and a phone (for emergencies only) before they’re sent off into the woods.

We tag along with one of the teams:
🦉 Fred, who has a chip on his shoulder, is the new kid.
🦉 Ash always smiles and is friends with everyone.
🦉 Chrystal is an exchange student who carries a Snoopy stuffed toy everywhere she goes.
🦉 Elle’s an all-rounder who has needed to adapt each time her family have moved.
🦉 Laila, Elle’s friend, lives in a treehouse and is into yoga. Nothing really bothers her.

What the team initially thinks will be a walk in the park becomes anything but. This is a night that will change all of their lives.

I loved seeing Fred’s artistic side find its way to the surface each time he identified a colour by its corresponding Derwent pencil name. Chrystal’s idiosyncrasies made me want to get to know her better.

While the main storyline is resolved, I have some unanswered questions and wish I’d gotten to know some of the characters better. I’m most interested in finding out what changes take place in Fred’s life as a result of the dropping.

Thank you so much to Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

‘It’s just a walk in the dark. What is there to worry about?’

That’s what the head teacher, Johan, says. And so the Year Nines from Otway Community School set out on an overnight hike, with no adults.

But doesn’t Johan know that a storm is coming?

When five teenagers head in to the forest that late afternoon, none of them is aware what the night will bring. Each will have to draw on their particular strengths to survive. Each will have to face the unknown, battling the elements, events beyond their control, and their own demons. It’s a night that will change everything.

Set in the rainforest of Victoria’s Otway Ranges, A Walk in the Dark is about friendship, trust, identity and family, consent and boundaries, wrapped in a compulsively readable, suspense-filled adventure.

Five head into the forest, but will all five make it out?

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