Book Review: What We Knew by Barbara Stewart

What We Knew by Barbara Stewart


Published: July 14th 2015


When a local myth starts to seem like a dangerous reality, two girls are set on a path that could change their lives forever

“When I was little, I imagined a monster: Scaly hands. Pits for eyes…”

When Tracy and her best friend, Lisa, were kids, stories about a man—a creep who exposes himself to little girls—kept them out of the woods and in their own backyards. But Tracy and Lisa aren’t so little anymore, and the man in the woods is nothing but a stupid legend. Right?

But someone is in the woods. Someone is watching. And he knows all their secrets, secrets they can’t tell anyone—not even each other.

“Monsters don’t exist.”

Lisa’s just being paranoid. At least that’s what Tracy thinks. But when a disturbing “gift” confirms her worst fears, it sets the girls on a dangerous journey that takes them beyond the edge of the woods. But reality is more terrifying than the most chilling myth, and what they find will test the bonds of friendship, loyalty, and love.

“Once upon a time, two girls were lost in the woods.”

In Barbara’s Stewart’s What We Knew, Tracy and Lisa can’t destroy the evil they’ll face, but can they stop it from destroying each other?


Barbara Stewart is an author that delivers. She has an authentic and original narrative voice. Her first book, The In-Between deeply disturbed me. I found myself discussing it with friends months and months after I finished reading it. She is the type of writer whom has the capability to write stories that leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Much like her previous work, What We Knew is not a book that is neatly tied up with a bow. There are many questions that are left unanswered, many situations unresolved and left solely for the reader to interpret for themselves the outcome. Normally, this infuriates me. Stewart makes it work. She makes her readers continue thinking about her characters and their world long after the book has met its end. She makes her readers really and truly think outside of the box…I love that.

I loved the sinister vibe this book gave off. I will admit, when reading the synopsis the idea of a villain named Banana Man had me giggling. I couldn’t help but picture the Banana Guards from Adventure Time.

tumblr_n21oe3irah1sv5dnfo1_500Rest assured, Banana Man is nothing like the Banana Guards. For such a ridiculous name, he redeems himself with his creepy legend.

The reader instantly becomes part of the team of protagonists. This is a YA book where the teens ACTUALLY behave like teens (shocking, I know). Much more than a typical YA spooky story. So many avenues are explored that one would never expect from the albeit vague synopsis. More than a scary story, the book explores so many avenues that I can’t mention without giving away major spoilers.

There is great darkness in this story. Darkness from the structure that is a typical horror story. Even deeper darkness from the underlying humane elements and how we navigate through the things we endure growing up. Again, I will say, without spoilers there is much more to this story than teens running around in terror from a Urban Legend.

This book will make your heart jump, and break your heart. It so much deeper than I expected, and I think that’s why I loved it so much.

Thank you, Raincoast Books for the review copy.

About Maison Moonchild

A Canadian gal that firmly believes words can change the world. An avid reader, writer and Halloween enthusiast. She has a special interest in communications and writes for pleasure and profession. She moonlights as a metaphysical maven with a knack for creating magical crystal jewelry and holiday accessories.
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