Wednesday, April 5, 2023

How Did "What Lies in the Woods" by Kate Alice Marshall End? What was the Twist? Spoilers!

Ending Explained "What Lies in the Woods" by Kate Alice Marshall with spoilers

How did "What Lies In the Woods" by Kate Alice Marshall end? Looking for an explanation for all those twists and turns because this thriller was super twisty! 
"What Lies in the Woods" by Kate Alice Marshall had more twists than most and if like me you have a hard time a week later remembering all of those twists and turns - or maybe you just want to skip straight to the twists, keep reading - but remember - - spoilers ahead!

What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice MarshallWhat Lies in the Woods

by Kate Alice Marshall

goodreads // amazon // library

Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder. They called it the Goddess Game. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer, wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes. And they were liars. For decades, the friends have kept a secret worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods―no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be. ( from

How Did "What Lies in the Woods" by Kate Alice Marshall End?

What Are the Twists and Spoilers?

First things first, the person who stabbed Naomi was not Stahl after all! 

Stahl being the main criminal in this story is a total red herring that is settled pretty early into the mystery. While Stahl was certainly a murderer, he did not attack Naomi in the woods when she was a child. He also did not kill Jessi, the skeletal remains that the young girls called Persephone.

Ethan is actually Stahl's son!

Naomi befriends a podcaster named Ethan who is investigating the stabbing and trial. She confides in him about the case. That trust is broken though when Cass and her father, Jim Green, reveal to Naomi that her trusted friend, Ethan, is actually the son of the man who allegedly tried to murder her.

Cody Benham isn't so trustworthy after all!

Several times during "What Lies in the Woods" Cody had come to Naomi's rescue. When she was a child and assaulted by Oscar, in the woods when she was being stabbed, and he reassured her when she was in town that if she needed help he would be there for her. 

Cody's wife made an aside to Naomi at Liv's funeral that Cody was slightly obsessed with Naomi, and that they owned prints of her photography as home decor. This felt weird and was definitely a hint from the author.

So, it wasn't a huge surprise to me when Naomi's call to Cody for help turned sinister. Naomi tells Cody about the skeleton they found in the woods. Cody leaves saying that he is going to "take care of this". While he is out of the car Naomi finds her stolen cell phone in Cody's glove compartment. When Cody returns he asks Naomi to take him to where she found Jessi's body and begins driving there.

Cody was the last person with Jessi when she died

When they arrive Naomi leads him towards the pond saying that they are headed to the body, but hoping they will run into anyone else. On the way she confronts Cody, asking if he was the one that was following her and stole her cellphone. She then asks if he was somehow involved in Jessi's murder. At this point, Cody snaps, and tells Naomi about the "accident" involving Jessi. 

Jessi and Mayor Jim were having an affair. Mayor Jim had called Cody when Jessi figured out that Jim was not going to leave his wife. She was drunk and becoming out of control, so Jim asked Cody to come and get her. After Cody picked Jessi up they also had an altercation outside and when Cody grabbed her she fell backward and hit her head on a rock. He was upset and left to cool down. When he came back to check on her she was nowhere to be found. Naomi theorizes that Jessi wandered away with a head injury and died in the woods where the girls eventually found her.

Cody murdered Liv and tries to also kill Naomi

After Cody admits to being involved in Jessi's death, Naomi continues to probe asking about Liv's death and how he was involved. Confronted again, Cody reaches into his jacket and grabs a gun. Cody admits that Liv came to talk to him about Persephone and that he killed Liv, to defend himself, but really just to defend his reputation.

Cass is the ringleader and has been blackmailing Cody

Cody doesn't immediately kill Naomi but instead says they need to wait for someone - and that is when Cass shows up. Turns out - all those years ago, Cass had known that Persephone was Jessi and that her dad was in a relationship with her. When Cass found Jessi's body, she also found Cody's name tag on the jacket near the dead body. Cass used her knowledge about Cody's involvement to blackmail him into helping her over the years. For example, when Cass needed money for her hotel project, she blackmailed him into investing. Cass had warned Cody that Liv was about to spill their secrets and helped plant a suicide note and steal their family home gun to make the death appear to be a suicide. 

So, who stabbed Naomi in "What Lies in the Woods"? Cass told Liv to stab Naomi, and she did - but Cass is the one who tried to finish the job

Frustrated that Naomi and Liv were becoming better friends with each other than with Cass. Cass convinced Liv that stabbing Naomi was what "Persephone wanted" her to do and would be a way to prove to Cass that Liv really wanted to be her friend and not Naomi's. Unfortunately, because Liv was not mentally well at the time she believed Cass and went along with the plan. Liv stabbed Naomi once, but she panicked, realizing what she did - so Cass took over. Cass tries to spin the story as actually being a good thing because it tied the girls together and made them stronger people in the end and heroes in the eyes of the community.

After Naomi was stabbed, Cass told her father about the skeleton they found in the woods and pinned the stabbing solely on Liv. Knowing that the skeleton's discovery would spell trouble for himself, Green instead pinned the crime on Stahl, knowing he was guilty of other crimes. The girls continued to keep Persephone a secret.

Cody shoots and kills Cass, and Naomi offers to help him cover it up

Cody, after hearing about all of the crazy things Cass has done, offers to be the one to kill Naomi. He takes the gun from Cass but shoots Cass instead. Relieved and grateful to Cody, Naomi then suggests that they pin Liv's death on Cass. Cody instead makes the choice to kill Naomi too, to try and keep everything quiet. Naomi attempts to escape but Cody does manage to shoot her from a distance and catches up to her. When Cody crutches down, Naomi grabs the gun and when the shot goes off it hurts her hand and then hits Cody's leg. Naomi tries to run away again and hides where they found Persephone. 

Hiding from Cody, Naomi calls Ethan for help   

Ethan is able to track Naomi's phone because she logged into his computer previously. Naomi is found and survives. The end!

And that's a wrap on "What Lies in the Woods" by Kate Alice Marshall! Let me know below if I missed any twists! Did you figure out this thriller early or did it take you by surprise? Thanks for reading, readers!


  1. I’m confused as to why Cody said “I wish I didn’t know what a liar you are” and then her flashbacks are muddled. Was Cody there for the stabbing too?

    1. I think he just knows from over the years that she was a liar. Like Cass says. Like Naomi says throughout the whole book. Her memories are muddled together in the end, when she’s laying there dying.

  2. How old was Persephone/Jessi? And eleven year old Cass planned all of this?

  3. Thank you for putting it all together!!

  4. How can Persephone become a skeleton in one month- when did she die and when did they find her
    I’m missing something…


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